File:Mazinaw Tramway - Gilmour Logging Built 1850s (26125786196).jpg

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English: This view of the Mazinaw Tramway was recorded from the South Mazinaw Height Road. N44,487, W77 11.543

Of the many lumber firms that operated in the Cloyne area in the mid to late 1800s, the Gilmour Lumber Company was prominent. Based in Trenton, Ontario at the outlet of the Moira River, the large Gilmour mill had a voracious appetite for logs. In 1888 it was reputed that the Trenton mill had perhaps the largest cutting capacity in the world although it never had run at full capacity. This need for lumber necessitated the firm’s purchase of timber rights in the Algonquin area and to a lesser extent around the current Bon Echo Park area in an effort to keep feeding the mammoth mill.
In the case of Bon Echo, Gilmour constructed a magnificent rail system that enabled the company to traverse two water systems- the Mississippi in the East on Mazinaw Lake to Pringle Lake on the West, a tributary of the Moira River running south to his huge mill in Trenton. This was an engineering marvel of its time, a way Gilmour could sell Mazinaw white pine and transport it by a completely different water system.
The embankment that held the railway can still be seen today as it travels through the forest between Mazinaw and Pringle Lakes (on predominantly private land) in an amazingly straight line - a direction of 240 degrees SW. An embankment of earth and stone was built by hand to elevate the rails above the swamps in some areas nearly 2 metres high and 2 metres wide.
Most of the railway can be seen as a hump on both sides of the South Mazinaw Heights Road continuing across Highway #41 on its way to Pringle Lake. Pringle Lake is 43 metres higher than the Mazinaw and over 2 kilometres to the west. Starting at the Mazinaw, Gilmour devised a jack ladder - a steam powered hoist to lift the logs up the steep 70 metre embankment from the lake, a full 28 metres vertically. Then on a system of steel rails, horse drawn carriages transported the logs up another 25 metres vertically (an average grade of 2%) before descending 13 metres to Pringle Lake. The terrain was rough and swampy.
The hoist was located on the Mazinaw to provide maximum lift in the minimum distance while also minimizing the uphill grade on the tramway line. Even though the Mazinaw tramway could move fewer logs per day than Gilmour’s much larger Dorest, Ontario tramway which could move an average of 2400 logs per day, the Mazinaw tramway had an advantage. It was not dependent upon water and therefore could operate more months per year. This seasonality was ultimately one of the main causes of failure for the Dorset operation and Gilmour Logging. The Mazinaw tramway was used as early as the 1850s and continued for about 40 years.
Today the tramway is a hidden memorial to our lumbering era 150 years ago and a testament to the ingenuity of the engineers of the day.
The above is sourced from the 'Addington Highlands - North Frontenac Historic CD Audio Driving Tour' available from the CDHS Bookstore:
Part of the Ken and Cathy Hook Collection
Note: All CDHS Flickr content is available for the public use (non-commercial) providing our Rights Statement is followed:
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Flickr sets
  • Ken and Cathy Hook
Flickr tags
  • Mazinaw
  • tramway
  • Gilmour Lumber
  • Gilmour Logging
  • vintage
  • railway
  • 1850s
  • lumber
  • logging
  • Pringle Lake
  • Mazinaw Lake
  • horse carriage
  • white
  • pine
  • engineering


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current14:14, 6 November 2016Thumbnail for version as of 14:14, 6 November 20164,240 × 2,384 (3.98 MB) (talk | contribs)Cloyne and District Historical Society, Set 72157644482959862, ID 26125786196, Original title Mazinaw Tramway - Gilmour Logging Built 1850s
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