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Rediscovering Huntsville, Ontario

July 25, 2015

This weekend has taken our family to Huntsville, Ontario, for our elder son's baseball tournament. In between games, there has been time to kill. Naturally, some of that was devoted to fishing. Our younger son caught a smallmouth bass off a town dock.

And... I also made time to check out the local railway yard. It's nice to visit a small community in Ontario that still has a railway line. In a short-sighted move, my home city of Orillia lost its chance to save their railway connection two decades ago. Anyhow, Huntsville was a breath of fresh air in that regard. This colour photograph shows the local "Switcher" near the preserved station.

A few days a week, this locomotive sets out and lifts cars from industries in and around Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, and Longford. I haven't devoted any time to railway modelling in a few years, but the scene got me thinking about possibilities in that regard, recreating the Huntsville yard in miniature.

I don't think I'd model the present, however. Probably, the era as depicted in this black & white picture from my Steam Scenes of Allandale, would be more likely. The caption from the book, covering that image and a couple of others from the CN Collection, is as follows:

Cradling the shore of Lake Vernon, the CNR yard at Huntsville serves a community steeped in lumbering history. Two principal industries, the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company (largest in the British Empire) and Muskoka Wood Manufacturing, makers of hardwood flooring, dominate the local economy and workforce. A succession of oil company spurs have been constructed to receive tank car loads from marine terminals. There is enough industrial track to keep the Ten Wheeler assigned to the Huntsville Switcher busy six days per week. Until the early 1940s there was a turntable and servicing area near the freight shed. Thereafter, the locomotive has been maintained at Gravenhurst and/or Scotia.

Mountain 6005 arrives with a heavy wartime consist of train 44 in the summer of 1944. A small locomotive employed by the Muskoka Wood Manufacturing mill lounges near the lakeside platform which provides an embarkation point for the steamship Algonquin, which in turn provides a connection to the Huntsville & Lake of Bays portage railway and thence Lake of Bays via another steamboat.

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