Chignecto Marine Transport Railway
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Arvense
N 45° 59.836 W 064° 00.524
20T E 421887 N 5094238
Located near Tidnish Cross Roads, Cumberland County, Tidnish Dock Provincial Park marks the eastern terminus of the historic Chignecto Marine Transport Railway - one of Nova Scotia’s most ambitious engineering projects.
Waymark Code: WM4883
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Date Posted: 07/20/2008
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
Views: 69

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are connected by the Isthmus of Chignecto, a flat, low-lying area largely covered by marsh and swamp. In 1686, the Governor of New France reported that a ship canal could easily be cut across the isthmus, greatly reducing the sailing distance between Port Royal, the French capital of Acadia, and Quebec City. The Governor’s report was to be the first of many proposals advanced over the next 200 years to move vessels across the isthmus.

Chignecto Marine Transport Railway

In 1875, Henry G.C. Ketchum, a brilliant engineer from New Brunswick, first suggested the idea of transporting vessels across the isthmus by railway as a means of reducing the sailing distance between ports on the St. Lawrence River and those on the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Ketchum’s proposal called for the construction of a 28 kilometre (17 mile) long double-tracked railway from Fort Lawrence, on the Bay of Fundy, across the isthmus to Tidnish Dock, on the Northumberland Strait. Docks at either end of the marine railway would allow vessels to be floated over huge wheeled cradles which would be lifted by hydraulic presses to the level of the railway. The vessel, secured within the cradle, would then be hauled across the isthmus by two locomotives. On reaching the other side, vessel and cradle would be lowered into the water until the vessel floated free.

In 1888, after several years of negotiation and study, the federal government agreed to subsidize the operation of the marine railway on the condition that Ketchum complete the project within a fixed time frame.

Ketchum’s firm, the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company, promptly hired a contractor who, in October, 1888, commenced work on the project. A miniature city quickly sprang up near Amherst to house and feed the 4000 men employed on this mammoth undertaking. Almost as soon as construction began, unforeseen difficulties arose. Unusually heavy rains created near-flood conditions over much of the line, delaying work for several months. One boggy section, over 1.6 kilometres in length, had to be excavated and filled with rocks to a depth of 18 metres (60 feet) to form a solid footing. Even the flow of the Tidnish River had to be altered. Despite these challenges, work progressed on the marine railway and, by 1891, a majority of the project had been completed. In that year, however, work was suspended when both the company and the contractor experienced financial difficulties. Unable to complete the project within the prescribed time-frame, the company’s charter and subsidy were cancelled by Parliament.

For several years Ketchum tried unsuccessfully to complete the work. Without the subsidy, however, it was impossible to attract additional funds. The marine railway was subsequently dismantled and sold to pay creditors. Among the few remains which stand tribute to Ketchum’s grand scheme are the railbed, a stone culvert over the Tidnish River, and remnants of the dock at Tidnish Dock Provincial Park.

SOURCE: link

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Tidnish Dock Provincial Park is located 0.4 km (1/4 mile) north of Route 366 at Tidnish Cross Roads, Cumberland County. It is approximately 18 kilometres (11 miles) northeast of Amherst.

Type of structure/site: Ship Transport Railway

Date of Construction: 1888-1891

Engineer/Architect/Builder etc.: Henry G.C. Ketchum

Engineering Organization Listing: Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE)

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Web Site: [Web Link]

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DND.Fireman visited Chignecto Marine Transport Railway 07/10/2021 DND.Fireman visited it
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