Tag Archives: Credit Valley Railroad

Bruce Trail – Olde Base to The Forks

Saturday, October 20, 2018

In a previous post we had looked at The Devil’s Pulpit having approached from the Forks of the Credit road.  Thinking that the fall colours might still hold some charm we decided to hike to the pulpit from the south.  When possible, we like to hike longer sections of the Bruce Trail using two cars.  We met on the Forks of the Credit Road near the end of Chisholm Street where we left one car.  We drove east to McLaughlin Road and then two concessions south through the historic community of Inglewood to Olde Base Line.  There is parking for a few cars west of here where Chinguacousey Road dead-ends.  The Bruce Trail roughly follows the old road allowance north from here.  It was an ideal morning for a hike in the woods with the sun shining and the smell of fall in the air.

The remains of an old split rail fence snake their way through the woods.  These fences were often the first method a farmer employed to divide his fields.  They were easy to build and could be made from material cut from the property.  They also provided the farmer with the option to reconfigure his fields, changing the size and shape of them quite easily. Their biggest drawback came in the amount of land that was used in their construction.  In later years when farming techniques improved and productivity was sought from the greatest amount of land possible.  The wooden snake fence was often replaced with flat wire fencing.

There are several ponds along the side of the trail that appear to have formerly been aggregate extraction sites.  Many of these former quarries along the Niagara Escarpment are now flooded and have become important wildlife habitats.  Mother nature reclaims her own.

Original property owners found that land grants along the top of the Niagara Escarpment were often not the best farmland.   The climax forests provided an initial resource in wood but this was soon exhausted.  Many land owners then sought to make money off the natural resources on the escarpment.  Transportation costs meant that many small quarries could no longer be profitable when local road building projects were completed and the market moved farther from the quarry.  Other uses for the property then had to be developed.  Grants have been offered at various times over the years for property that is reforested.  The production of maple syrup can turn a forest into a profit centre for a few weeks each spring and there are remains of sugar shacks in the woods.

Eventually the trail emerges onto a small section of Chinguacousey Road that provides access to one of these aggregate extraction sites.  Deforest Brothers Quarries is licenced to operate a quarry that is just over 10 hectares in size.  They are allowed to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of material per year.  How ironic that the Deforest Brothers have been cutting down trees to reveal their product.

The trail follows the Grange Side Road west for one concession until it reaches the third line, now known as Creditview Road. Once again, the Bruce Trail heads north along the old right of way for the road.  The road was never completed through to connect with the Forks of the Credit Road because the Devil’s Pulpit lies in the way.

The fall colours are still quite vivid on some of the trees but most of them are past their prime.

White Baneberry grows in a small patch along the trail.  Birds will eat the berries and the seeds pass through their digestive system and are deposited somewhere else to start a new plant.  Toxins in the seeds are known to have a sedative effect on the human heart muscle and ingestion can lead to cardiac arrest and possibly death.

This beautiful pond is one of several along this stretch of the trail.

When you reach the top of The Devil’s Pulpit the view is quite spectacular at any time of the year.

Stairs and a guide wire help you up or down the side of the escarpment.

The rock face at The Devil’s Pulpit must have been an interesting place to work every day.  Workplace standards have changed considerably in the last 150 years.

The trail continues to descend and passes the Ring Kiln Side Trail that leads to the Hoffman Lime Kilns.  This 0.6 kilometre trail leads to a dozen set kilns built in a ring for the burning of limestone.  As the trail descends to the former Credit Valley Railway it uses another set of stairs.

On the way back to the car near Olde Base Line we decided to check out the one-lane rail bridge where the CVR was built over The Grange Sideroad.

We encountered very few people for such a nice fall day on the Bruce Trail.

Google Maps link: Forks of the Credit

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Inglewood

Saturday, December 3, 2016

By the time that Inglewood was getting started a lot of small communities in Ontario had already faded from prominence, including nearby Sligo.  Inglewood got started directly from the arrival of two railways.  To investigate this area, we left one car on Chingaucousy Road just north of Boston Mills Road where the Caledon Trailway (yellow below) crosses.  A second car was taken to Ken Whillans Resource Management Area where there is free Trailway parking and access.  The hike took roughly the green trail including wandering around in what would become Inglewood.

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A short trail connects the resource area with the former Hamilton & North Western Railway (H&NW) that was built through here in 1877.  The Trailway crosses the Credit River on the same bridge that the railway once used.

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A close look at the H&NW crossing reveals several railway construction methods.  Wood pilings can still be seen in the river from the earliest crossing.  Cut limestone has been used for the abutments and a central pier that supports the current steel bridge.  The upstream side of the central pier has been given a newer concrete facing and point to act as a spring ice breaker to reduce damage to the bridge.

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The Trailway heads west from here toward Inglewood.  The railway junction was created when the Credit Valley Railway (CVR) arrived in 1878.  The historical atlas above shows the junction as well as the woolen mills but the town was yet to get started.  Early names for the community were Sligo and Sligo Junction but these name didn’t last because it had already been used in the area.  The original Sligo had a post office which was located on Thomas Bell’s property a couple of concessions north.  I’ve indicated the location on the map with an arrow.  There was also a switchback on Centre Street (marked on the map) where a community named Sligo had once housed a population of 50.  The name was changed to Riverdale but when the post office was opened a new name was needed and Inglewood was chosen.

The two railway lines crossed on the west side of the street where you will also see the old General Store.  Built in 1886 by George Merry it has an interesting and highly decorative chimney.  The rear of the store housed a bake oven that outgrew the location and, after moving, supplied bread to the local towns until it was destroyed by fire in 1940.

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South of the railway junction is the railway hotel which now serves as a general store.  It was built around 1881.  The original industry predates the town and is still to be found on Maple Lane in the form of several stone buildings.  A short laneway, lined with mature trees, leads to the mill.  In 1834 the property was purchased by Thomas Corbett who built a dam, mill race and a small frame woolen mill known as Riverside Woolen Mills.  A larger mill was built downstream a few years later so that the work of fulling and spinning the wool could be done in the mill instead of in the local farmer’s homes by their wives.  In 1871 the mill was rebuilt in stone by Corbett’s son-in-law, David Graham.  That building is seen in the photo below.

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Just four years later the building was gutted by fire and leased to Ward and Algie who rebuilt the mill.  It grew and in 1890 the Grahams returned to running the mill.  The building seen below was added by them in 1896.

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The head race carried water from the river to the mill to power the machinery.  The Riverwood Mill raceway is an obvious trench that the local farmer now cuts for a crop of hay.  The cover photo shows the raceway with the farmer’s old steel bridge allowing him access to his property on the other side.

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At the upper end of the raceway is  a section of the river that has been protected with gabion baskets filled with rock.  There are at least two phases of the gabion as a lower one is badly corroded.  There are no signs of any original dam construction here.

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Inglewood is a good place for a short walk through town to observe some of its architectural heritage.  The house below is in the correct place to be the David Graham house on the historical atlas above.  The Cultural Heritage Landscapes Inventory suggests that it could be his home.  If so, it predates the building of the village.  This five-bay, one and a half story Regency Cottage has the elaborate doorway and large ceiling to floor windows that were popular between 1810 and 1840.  If this is the original Graham house, as it appears to be, then it contains a mystery.  It faces Louise Street and not 1st line west (McLaughlin Road) as one would expect.

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This house is also on David Graham’s property  and dates to around 1870 making it contemporary with the mill and not the town.  There is a stone building behind this house that was most likely used by workers at the mill.

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The Methodist Church was built in 1889 with a grand opening in 1890.  The Graham family was a key employer in the town and was also instrumental in the construction of this church building.  In 1925 the Methodist Church merged into the United Church.  This building is interesting in that it has a weathervane instead of a cross.

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The Trailway continues west out of Inglewood to where it crosses Old Base Line. Continuing, it passes through The Caledon Golf and Country Club.  Near Chingaucousy Road you will see a series of decaying chalets that used to belong to the country club.  They have been described in greater detail in a post called Caledon Country Club Chalets.

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The historic town of Inglewood and the Caledon Trailway make a great place to explore.

Google Maps Link: Inglewood

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Melville

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caledon Township was surveyed between 1819 and 1820 with settlements beginning shortly after.  The town of Melville was founded in 1831 but was originally known as West Caledon after the church that was located on the southwest corner of Highpoint Sideroad (25th s.r.) and Willoughby Road (1st line west).

Jesse Ketchum Jr. saw the possibility for a mill and a town was born.  He built a dam on his property creating the mill pond that still exists today.  The concrete dam in the cover photo replaces an earlier wood structure that would have required constant maintenance. His father, Jesse Ketchum, had been a tanner in Toronto and had gotten rich selling leather to the government, whom he silently opposed in the rebellion of 1837.  In 1831 he had donated property for a school and a park in Yorkville, both named in his honour.  Jesse Jr. laid out the north part of Orangeville on lands owned by the family in 1856.  Then in 1859 he laid out an ambitious town plan for Melville on his property there.  Soon there was a tannery, possibly connected to the Ketchums, as well as a saw mill and an oat mill.  The town never grew the way Ketchum Jr. envisioned and eventually the tannery and mills all closed.

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There is an Upper Credit Conservation Parking lot on Porterfield Road (2nd line west) south of town, near the train tracks.  From here a trail leads east following the Credit River.  A footbridge is provided to cross the river and then the trail divides but we followed it to the north, toward Melville.  As we made our way along the trail we could hear the approach of the Credit Valley Explorer as it was making a short run through Melville.  The picture below shows the engine as it is emerging from behind a small ridge.  The Explorer runs on the old Credit Valley Railway (CVR) right of way south of town.

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To the early settlers a fence had no practical value.  Pigs and cows were left to forage all summer and were slaughtered in the fall.  By the middle of the 19th century farms were opened up enough that property lines needed to be marked and cedar rails were used, often in a zig-zag pattern.  These snaking fence lines wasted a lot of productive land and eventually they were replaced with straight fences. Fence wire was introduced in the 1890’s and steel poles came after WWII.  Snaking fences had one major advantage that kept them in use even after more advanced methods became available.  They were the only truly portable fences and farmers could move them to reconfigure their fields to meet changing needs.

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Following the trail east along the river, you will come to a new fence where the trail loops back around.  This fence is running along the top of a berm in the field.  This berm is the former right of way for the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway (TG&B) that ran through Melville starting in 1871.  This section of the line has been closed for nearly a century but the berm is still visible from Google Earth.  There isn’t much to see other than an obviously man-made hill in the field.  There are interpretive signs in the park but none about the railway. Yet, one can stand here and almost see the steam engines rolling into town.  The farmer has created a stone fence along the edge of his field where he sold a strip of land for the railway.  Every spring the frost lifts a new crop of stones to the surface of the fields so that the farmers have to clear the rocks before planting.  Stone fence lines across Ontario are the result of needing to dispose of these stones.

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The CVR came into town in 1879 and it intersected with the TG&B just south of Highpoint Sideroad.  Known as Melville Junction it contained the station and freight buildings.  Today the junction has reverted to a farmer’s field and the old right of way for the TG&B is being kept open by a lawn mower.

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In 1932 the CPR closed the section of TG&B line from Bolton to Melville.  A little south of Melville is the site of the Horseshoe Curve Rail Disaster where a train left the tracks in 1907 killing 7 and injuring 114.  From there the line passed through Cardwell Junction.  The portion of track between Melville Junction and Orangeville is still in use as part of the CPR line through town.  Between Highpoint Sideroad and Willoughby Road the tracks cross the Credit River on a bridge that replaced the original trestle.

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This one and a half story cottage is the oldest remaining home in the village.  It was built around 1850 in what is known as the Georgian Style.  The 2 over 2 windows are likely replacements as most of the homes in this era had 6 over 6 windows.  The smaller panes of glass were easier to produce and transport without breakage.

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Like all small towns, Melville had at least one hotel.  The large building on the northeast corner of town was also the post office.

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According to the date stone, Caledon School Section 12 in Melville got a new building in 1871. Melville’s saw mill was doing a good business in decorative brackets for eaves and the local tradesmen liked to use them in pairs.

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Italianate architecture was popular in Ontario between 1840 and 1890.  This style also tends to have the round headed windows and doors that can be seen in this example below from 1875.  Like many Italianate houses,  George Hillock’s home has heavy bracketing under the eaves with the ornamentation being paired.  Another interesting feature of the style is the Widow’s Walk.  This platform on the rooftop was often railed with highly detailed wrought iron.  The name comes from their frequent location on homes built near water and the suggestion that women would walk there looking out for their husbands to return from sea.  The fact that they often didn’t return made them widows.  It is, in fact, a variation on the cupola which is common to the Italianate style.

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At the intersection of highway 10 and Highpoint Sideroad stands an abandoned house (red arrow on map). The preceding two buildings from the 1870’s were made of red brick with buff trim.  Typical of many homes in the 1850’s, this one is buff with red trim.  This farmhouse was built in 1859 by David Watson and has been covered in greater detail in a separate post which can be found here.

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Google Maps link:  Melville

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Kelso’s Kilns

Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015

Near Kelso are several abandoned lime production facilities that preserve part of our industrial heritage regarding the extraction and processing of construction materials.  We decided to look for evidence of two of these plants that operated between the south side of the Credit Valley Railway (CVR) and the edge of the escarpment.  We parked on Kelso Road and set off to make our way to the foot of the escarpment with our eyes set on the vertical cliff face that shows up in archive photos of the kilns.

The area around Milton has always been known for aggregate extraction and the production of lime, limestone and bricks.  It was settled beginning in 1819 by Scottish immigrants to the extent that the area became known as the Scotch Block.  In 1844 Alexander Robertson settled in the area of Milton and began raising his 8 children.  His son, David, started Milton Pressed Brick and Sewer Company as seen in Pine Point Park.  Another son, Duncan started the Robertson Lime Company in the 1880’s on a strip of land between Kelso Road and the escarpment.  The company was operated by him and then his son Donald until 1929 when they sold the business to Gypsum Lime and Alabaster Limited.  Robertson built his company on the embankment along side the CVR (now CPR).  Original stone construction and later concrete additions and repairs remain near track level while the remains of kilns stand slightly uphill.

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Gypsum Lime and Alabaster Limited sold to Dominion Tar (Domtar) in 1959 and they closed the facility a few years later.  Two concrete silos stood on the west end of the structure joined by a bridge across the top.  Birch trees are growing in and around the structures, which look like a giant pair of sunglasses.  These were possibly used in the production of quick lime by adding water to the burnt lime from the kilns.

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The picture below is credited to Robert Sandusky and is from 1957.  It shows the Gypsum Lime and Alabaster Limited facility in the background.  The three lime kilns are in operation and one of the two silos can be seen on the right.  The location of this bridge on Sixteen Mile Creek is now lost under Lake Kelso.

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The view from near the foundations of the Robertson Lime Company.  Lake Kelso can be seen between here and the 401.  A dam and flood control facility for Sixteen Mile Creek created this lake in 1962.  It was a mostly cloudy day which gave way to light rain toward the end of our hike. There is still some colour left in the trees but mostly in the willows and oak trees.

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We ended up on the wrong side of the fence and had to walk down the tracks to Appleby Line. This isn’t recommended.  From here we made our way south and found an entrance behind the site of the Christie lime kilns.  David Christie built two draw kilns each 55 feet tall on the site. The first was completed in 1883 and the second in 1886.  The cover photo shows the view up inside one of these kilns.

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The picture below shows the furnace where the wood was burnt to provide heat to break down the limestone.  Temperatures in the oven could reach as high as 1800 degrees F.  The person who filled the furnace was known as a fireman and he made $1.00 per day.  He had to load about 8 cord of wood into the two kilns each day.  The four quarry workers each made $1.25 daily.  The foreman was paid $400 per year.  Workers got Sunday off and many of them attended the church building on the corner of the Christie Homestead.  It has since been converted into a house.

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Chunks of limestone were moved from the quarry behind the kilns to the kiln site.  From here they were dumped into the top of the kiln to be burnt into lime.  The picture below shows the top abutment for the bridge that carried the limestone to the kiln.  There are still pieces of the log supports in the holes in the side of the abutment.

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The archive photo below shows the Christie Kilns in 1911.  Notice the bridge running from the top of the kiln to the embankment behind. The supports and trusses for the bridge can be seen behind the kiln.

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A small tramway was installed to bring limestone to the kilns and it was opened in July 1922.  Rock could be brought from the quarry to the kiln in under 2 minutes via a steel rope half the size of the one we found on The Cox Property.  This was a marked improvement over the previous method using horses to haul the stone to the kiln.  The horses were suitably impressed too!

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Between the two draw kilns and slightly to the rear are the remains of a third kiln.  This kiln is shorter and of a different construction.  This set kiln was used by loading limestone in and packing firewood around it.  The method was slow and required a cool down period before the product could be removed.  This kiln was likely abandoned when the draw kilns were installed.

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There is a footbridge to get across the CPR tracks and so we took it back into the park.  From here we could see the vertical cliff face that we had been close to after exploring the Robertson Lime Company foundations.

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Growing along the side of Kelso Road are some wild grapes.  Care should be taken to ensure that you are in fact looking at wild grapes and not moonseed, which is poisonous.  One way to tell is to look at the seed shape which predictably looks like a moon in the moonseed plant.

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Google Maps Link: Kelso

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The Caledon Aerial Tramway – The Cox Property

Saturday Oct. 24, 2015

For over 100 years a steam powered aerial tramway has been hidden away in the Caledon hills. It was 8 degrees when we set out and it started lightly raining almost as soon as we found the west end of the tramway.  Having parked on The Forks Road near Dominion Street we walked up the hill to the hairpin turn.  This is where the Credit Valley Railroad (CVR) built their station.  The CVR was absorbed into the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) who took over transportation for the mineral extraction activities in the area.  The embankment on the side of the railway has been reinforced by driving steel rails into the ground to support boards.

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The medina sandstone in the Caledon hills had not been exploited with much success until the coming of the CVR.  McLaren’s Castle was built in 1864 and is a rare example of local stone prior to the arrival of the railway in 1879.  For the next thirty years quarries mined all the easily accessed deposits until one by one they were closed.  In 1900 an aerial tramway was built to bring stone from the eastern embankment of the Credit River to the railway line.  This avoided bringing it down to Dominion Street and then back up the hill on the Forks of the Credit Road. McLaren’s castle is shown in the archive photo below but it was destroyed in a series of fires in the 1960’s.

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The Cox Property is the east half of lot 9 concession 4 while the west half of lot 9 is the Willoughby Property which features the Stonecutter’s Dam.  Both properties are owned by the Credit Valley Conservation Authority.  The CVC has taken a “hands off” approach to managing the Cox property.  No formal trails have been established and the area is being allowed to return to it’s naturally vegetated condition.  Almost immediately we found an area of disturbed rocks where steel rails could be seen underneath.  After a brief investigation we located the two inch steel cable from the tramway running through a chamber below ground.

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A little farther along several steel railway rails have been exposed.  These rails support chunks of stone that hide the chamber below where the cable runs.  Inside, the curving end of the tramway cable can be seen.

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I climbed into the chamber that the cable ran through.  After cleaning a bit of debris away I still couldn’t see where the cable went as it curved around a large block of cut stone and down deeper into the underground chamber.  Without preparations, or permission, it wasn’t possible to dig all the stone fill out of the chamber and discover if the cable turns on a hidden drive below.  The cover photo shows the cable from inside the chamber looking to the east where it entered this end of it’s route.  The walls are lined with cut stone and the roof is supported on a series of steel rails.  Above ground the rails are covered with a layer of stone that has been spread over the top.

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The steel wire rope used on the tramway had a two inch diameter as can be seen relative to the 28mm (1.1 inch) coin in the picture below.  The rope appears to have a 6 X 7 construction which means that it has 6 strands made of 7 wires each.  The six strands are wrapped around a central core. Without seeing a cross section it isn’t possible to determine of there is a 7th strand in the core making it a 7 X 7 rope.  Using 7 wires per strand allows for larger outer wire diameter which greatly improves abrasion resistance but reduces flexibility.  The wires in the strands of this rope run in the same direction as the stands and this is known as a “lang lay”. Depending on the exact construction this wire rope should have a breaking strength somewhere between 175 and 200 tons.

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Other evidence of past industrial use of the land is seen in the remains of a steel ladder.

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There is a small patch of horsetail growing on the side of the hill and most of it has been chewed off.  White tail deer will sometimes eat horsetail and we saw the departing end of a deer as we came through this part of the woods.

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Stone was brought from the quarry on the other end of the tramway and unloaded to waiting train cars on the CPR.  A large steel spike is seen protruding out of the side of the hill near where the tramway ended. This spike is similar to the ones I saw on the 1855 Gore and Vaughn Plank Road I reported in Dufferin Creek.

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The Cox Property was the site of quarry number two as well as several smaller quarries.  The picture below shows the face of one of the smaller quarries.  We found various metal and wire scraps in this overgrown quarry.

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Turkey tail fungus is known by the scientific name Trametes Versicolor and it grows on fallen hardwood and stumps.  This fungus contains a protein called PSK which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties.  It inhibits growth of breast and lung cancers as well various ones in the digestive system.  Treatment with turkey tail proteins has shown very little negative side effects.

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The eastern end of the tramway was at a much higher elevation than the western end and I could see that cable making an excellent zip-line across the Credit River valley.  This picture looks from near the terminus on the Cox Property across the valley to where the steam boiler that powered it hides at the other end.

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The Caledon aerial tramway has given up some of the secrets it guarded for the past century but I suspect that there is even more buried in that underground chamber.  The Cox property also contains a couple more quarries and access roads but after a couple of hours of non-stop rain, we decided to call it a day, leaving the rest for another time.

Please note that the Credit Valley Conservation considers this property to be private and as noted above, no trails are maintained on it.  Access to the property is by permission only.

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Forks of the Credit – Caledon Ski Club

Saturday Aug. 1, 2015

It started off much cooler than the last couple of weeks at only 17 degrees as we returned to the Forks of the Credit.  Once again we parked near Dominion Road, this time in search of an old tramway associated with two of the quarries around the Forks of the Credit.  Research suggested that it may have passed across the CVR tracks and reached between Quarry no. 2 on the Cox Property and the Big Hill Quarry on the east side of Dominion Road.

We set off along Forks of the Credit road and passed under the rail bridge.  As featured in the Devil’s Pulpit post, this bridge was the longest curved wooden trestle bridge in Ontario at the time of it’s construction.  Safety concerns led to it being filled in to form a more stable berm.  Of the 1,146 feet of trestle only the three sections crossing the road and river were left open.  The picture below looks up at the 85 foot high bridge and north to the berm it rests upon.  Inside this berm hides the original wooden trestle that was basically buried alive.  Special rail cars were loaded with gravel excavated locally and pulled out onto the trestle.  The gravel would pour through the trestle until it filled up the space to the rails above making this what is known as a fill trestle.

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In the valley stands one of the original 33 homes from the village of Forks of the Credit.  Not much remains of the little village that grew up around the quarry industry.

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The first bridge over the Credit River was replaced with a newer one near the bottom of the hairpin curve.  Near this second bridge over the Credit stands the former Post Office and General Store.

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The Credit Valley Railway station stood in the small open space near the hairpin turn.

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On the crest of the next curve stands the Cox house after which this piece of property is named. As far as the township is concerned this is also part of the Willoughby Property which features the unique and barely accessible Stonecutter’s Dam.  While the Willoughby Property has several maintained trails the Cox Property is being managed with a “hands off” approach.

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The spider in the centre of this web is quite possibly an orchard orb weaver spider although there are several different varieties.  She was sitting out taking in the sunshine and watching for breakfast to come along.

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Just north of the former railway station was a brick manufacturing plant that we weren’t able to locate in the heavy undergrowth.  We got onto a yellow marked trail that eventually led us to the Caledon Ski Club.  The Toronto Ski Club was formed in 1924 near Richmond Hill and by 1930 had 2000 members. They started expansion including in the Collingwood and  Caledon areas. In 1934 they hosted the Ontario Ski championships with some of the racing taking place in Caledon.  The picture below shows the top of one of the ski lifts while the cover photo shows the bottom of the lift.

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Svend Jepson had won a silver medal for Denmark in gymnastics at the Olympics before emigrating to Canada.  He bought a property on the top of the escarpment overlooking the Forks of the Credit.  He cut a ski run down the side of the hill and by the 1930’s he was running a sort of ski resort on his property.  People would come to Inglewood by train where he would pick them up and bring them to his home.  He charged $2 for a bed and breakfast and the use of his 600 foot ski runs.  By the late 1930’s the Toronto Ski Club was moving it’s competitive racing to Collingwood and the runs in Caledon reverted to their natural state.  In 1957 Jepson’s daughter Helen bought the property next door.  Her and her husband used the two properties to start the Caledon Ski Club.

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In December 1961 a new location was purchased on lot 11 where the slopes were twice as tall and there was challenging rocks to ski around.  A roadway was cleared to the site and a parking lot was cleared.  Soon some runs were cut and the first nylon tow rope was installed.  Caledon Ski Club now has 23 runs and 8 lifts.  The picture below shows one of the ponds where water is collected for use in snow making for the following season.

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From the Dominion Street bridge the actual forks of the Credit can be seen where the East Branch meets up with the main Credit River.  We walked up Dominion Road to Brimstone were a small community of quarry workers lived.  Just before the town is a place where a mudslide in 2005 closed part of the roadway.  A series of concrete blocks has been installed to prevent further damage but a clear strip of hillside reveals the site of the landslide.  Near the village of Brimstone the two inch cable of the aerial tramway used to cross the valley.  The picture below shows the actual Forks of the Credit.

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Along the east Credit river patches of Blue Vervain grow.  These slender purple spikes blossom from the bottom to the top.  The plant has been used for centuries as a pain reliever and stimulant.  It is also known to relieve headache and rheumatism.

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The ski tramways we found were not the aerial tramways were were looking for but not being found isn’t the same as not being there.  Some places need to be explored in the spring or fall when there is no vegetation to hide the relics.  Or, perhaps someone who has been there will read this and comment.

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Forks Of The Credit – The Stonecutter’s Dam

Saturday July 18, 2015

It was the hottest, stickiest day so far this year.  It was already 22 degrees, feeling like 30 at 9:00 in the morning.  By the time we got back to the car the humidity was making it feel like 39 degrees.  You need to carry a lot of water on days like this to avoid dehydration and possible heat stroke.

Peel County was surveyed in 1818-1819 with settlement starting the following year.  Settlers found a rugged terrain that was difficult to farm.  Lot 9 concession 4 was typical of the area and included a stretch of the escarpment where the Credit River cascades through a ravine.  The property didn’t suit farming but there was plenty of Queenston shale and limestone as well as gravel deposits.  It would be used for quarry purposes from the mid 1800’s until the 1930’s.  In 1986 the Ontario Heritage Foundation acquired the property in a combined purchase and donation from Bert Willoughby. Now known as the Willboughby Property it is west of the Devil’s Pulpit which we visited last week. Historical research conducted in 1988 identified several items of cultural heritage significance, a few of which are presented below.

We parked on the end of Scott street and entered the park near the old gravel pit.  As we entered the laneway to the former caretaker’s house we found a single yellow daylily.  These plants usually grow in small clusters so finding a single flower is unusual.  They get their name from the fact that the flowers only last for a single day.  They bloom overnight or in the morning and wither up the following night.  A new flower may grow on the same stem and if the flower is cut off it will continue to bloom for several days.  They come in many brilliant colours with this one having brown stamen which are the male parts and a yellow carpel, or female part.  This example is known as a lemon lily.

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At the west end of the property a  gravel pit operated until the 1930’s.  Nearby stood a barn and workshop as well as the caretaker’s house and a windmill.  The gravel pit has started to grow over with trees as can be seen in the picture below.  We found evidence of the the other structures but they appear to have all been removed.

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As you follow the trail along you will come to the Crow’s Nest side trail.  To the left this trail runs past the Hillis Quarry overlooking the Forks road.  To the right it runs past Crows Nest Quarry and several smaller pits where limestone and sandstone were cut from the hill side.  We took the side of the trail along the Hillis Quarry which eventually loops back toward the river.  Along here an old pump house stands.

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Behind the pump house stand two old bridge abutments made from blocks of cut stone.  These supported a siding from the Credit Valley Railway (CVR) that ran to the quarries.  The cut stone from these quarries was used to build some of the grandest buildings in Ontario in the late 1800’s.

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What we call Old City Hall in Toronto was actually the third city hall.  It was completed in 1899 using 1,360 train car loads of cut stone.  The grey stone came from the Credit River Valley and may have crossed the bridge shown in the previous picture.  The brown stone was brought from New Brunswick.  The picture below shows the water colour that was created to promote the idea of building a new city hall.

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The CVR retaining wall along the siding is part of the built or human heritage on the property. With the rails pulled up and trees growing on the former rail bed this almost appears to be a random wall built in the woods.  The retaining wall is yet another example of the use of cut stone on the property.

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The rail siding to the quarries on the Willoughby property joined the CVR near the train station. The train station sat in the clearing at the hairpin turn on the Forks of the Credit road.

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The Willoughby dam is about 100 metres upstream from the Forks of the Credit road along a Bruce Trail blue side trail in the bottom of the valley.  With a rise of 1.5 metres it is a migratory obstacle to all but jumping species of fish such as salmon and trout.

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Along the side of the river we found a recently hatched nest of Eastern Snapping Turtle eggs. This turtle is considered to be of Special Concern in Canada.  The empty shells look like little curled up strips of paper running down into the hole.

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Up river from the concrete dam is a mid 1800’s structure made of blocks of cut stone.  The stonecutter’s dam has a unique stone penstock that can be seen in the cover photo.  The penstock is a stone tunnel extending from the downstream side of the dam.  The intake in the wall of the dam was higher than the exit causing the water to fall through the penstock to deliver energy to turn a turbine or water wheel.  The picture below shows the back side of the dam where a large amount of wood has been washed up over the years.  Many dams were washed out in the major floods of 1878 and 1954 but the stonecutter’s dam has survived. When the Willoughby property was acquired and a conservation plan was developed the restoration of this dam and it’s associated mill structures was reviewed but unfortunately dismissed.

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The mill pond behind the stonecutter’s dam is filling up with silt and weeds.  The dam was considered to be impassable to migratory fish but a single salmon was recently caught upstream and this suggests that some can go through (or get tossed over by fishermen).

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If you follow the trail past the dam you will have to continue into Belfountain. The Willoughby property has been used for farming, quarrying and has now been turned into a park that hides it’s abundant history among the new growth forest.

The Black-Crowned Heron in the picture below was photographed a couple of days earlier but this bird was auditioning for a spot in the blog by posing for pictures.  This stocky little heron stands up to two feet tall and can weight two pounds.  Unlike the great blue heron, night herons do not have long necks and legs.

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The Forks of the Credit contains ample space for future explorations of it’s natural beauty and historical artifacts.

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