||May 5, 2000
Trout Creek Logging Railway played key role
|The Trout Creek Logging Railway’s Heisler locomotive, logging cars
and crew, 1915. (photo courtesy of Jack Trussler)
Logging railroads are a fascinating part of our heritage.
The Trout Creek Logging Railroad (1911-1925) was typical of several
such operations throughout the north in the early part of the century,
before trucks became available. These railways were usually established
after the logs near the sawmills were cut and other logs were too far away
to be hauled conveniently with sleighs.
In 1911 three struggling logging companies in Trout Creek (Kaufman,
Ballantyne and Trussler Brothers) amalgamated to form the Dominion Wood
and Lumber Company. The new company soon established a subsidiary
company called the Trout Creek Logging Railway to haul their logs and work
A standard gauge railway, that eventually went 24 km east into Algonquin
Park, was established. Hartley Trussler wrote about the railway and
his experience working on it in his “Reflections” column in the North Bay
Nugget in 1974.
Brian Westhouse also did a story on the railway in the Bytown Railway
Society’s Branchline news magazine in 1990. Westhouse interviewed
Mr. Trussler and quoted his early diaries. Westhouse noted that the
railway’s builder was W.J Foster “who was something of an engineer, improviser
This is the same W.J. Foster who had several operations in nearby Chisholm
Township during this era, and who the Fassett Lumber Corporation’s Foster’s
Mill—or Fossmill —operation was named after.
Foster’s men hacked out the railbed with pickaxes, shovels and two-handed
horse drawn scrapers. Dynamite was used when necessary. After
the rails were laid and an engine and steam loader purchased, ballast cars
were built and holes and soft spots were filled.
Their first rolling stock was a new Heisler, two-truck, twenty-six ton
locomotive, purchased new from the factory in Pennsylvania.
The locomotive could handle four loaded log cars but sometimes had to
take two at a time over hills. Hartley Trussler worked on the railway
as a millwright, blacksmith and carman. In his diary Hartley wrote
that “there is something alluring about railways, though it’s hard and
In 1917, at the age of 20, he had his chance to drive the Heisler when
the regular engineer became ill. Even though as Hartley wrote in
his diary: “I thought I was going to have a steady job,” a new engineer
was soon found and he went on to other work for the company.
In a 1974 Nugget article, Hartley remembered that: “Working on the Trout
Creek Logging Railway was the most interesting, most enjoyable time of
my life. Truly the good old days.”
The locomotive did all kinds of work in the mill yards in Trout Creek,
and often made three trips a day for logs at the end of the steel.
By the end of 1917 the company had purchased a used Shay locomotive to
help with the workload.
Worked with brother
Hartley, in his diary on December 24, 1917 noted: “Worked all day with
Rollie [his brother] fixing the Shay locomotive. We babbited the
valve gear and put it together. Nearly everything wants overhauling.
I like working on such jobs.”
Space does not allow for more details about the many problems they had
with the Shay over the next few months. One thing that is obvious
from the diaries is that Hartley had a real natural writing skill—a skill
that would recreate the story of the railway, and many of the other events
of that era, half a century later.
The Trout Creek Logging Railway did its job until 1925, when the log
supply diminished and the company was dissolved and its assets transferred
to the parent company.
The Dominion Wood and Lumber Company closed down in 1929, ending a fascinating
era in Trout Creek history.
The rails were lifted in the mid-1930s and the railbed is now the road
bed for a road leading toward Algonquin Park. This road joins another
road on another old railbed from the Standard Chemical Company in South
River, completing a circuit from Trout Creek to South River through the
bush, allowing access for cottagers, Project DARE and others.
||Automobile adapted to ride the rails on company business.
In this case, sightseers out for a drive. (photo courtesy of Eileen Thompson)
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