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Big Chute Marine Railway, Coldwater

Categories: Landmarks, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.6/5 based on 85 reviews on the web
Big Chute Marine Railway is a boat lift at lock 44 of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario, Canada. It works on an inclined plane to carry boats in individual cradles over a change of height of about 60ft. It is the only marine railway (or canal inclined plane) of its kind in North America still in use, and is overseen by federally operated Parks Canada.HistoryIn 1914 contracts were let to have 3 locks built to connect the Severn River to Georgian Bay at Port Severn, Big Chute, and Swift Rapids. With the start of World War I, however, there was a shortage of manpower and resources. Lock 45 at Port Severn was nearing completion, so it was finished as a small, "temporary" lock. (It remains in use to this day.) The locks at Big Chute and Swift Rapids were not completed, with "temporary" marine railways being built instead. The original Big Chute Marine Railway was completed in 1917, and could only carry boats up to 35ft long, preventing navigation by large commercial vessels. The Swift Rapids Marine Railway was completed in 1919, using the same plans as the Big Chute railway.In 1921 plans were once again made to build three locks at Big Chute, to be part of a new section of canal which would take boats from Big Chute and rejoin the existing waterway downstream from the Little Chute, avoiding the fast water in the Little Chute. However because of the post-war recession the scheme was put on hold once more, although remains of the beginning of the dams required to maintain the water levels can still be found in the surrounding forest. In 1923 the original railway at Big Chute was replaced, as the size and number of boats had increased, with the second carriage being able to carry boats up to 60ft long. The 1923 carriage was used up until around 2003, on days of extremely heavy traffic, or as a backup for the new carriage. Although the old carriage is no longer used, it remains on display.
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  • A worthwhile stop and good exercise climbing the steps.lots of parking and a small snack bar nearby. 
  • I have been past it many times in the winter but this is the first time when it was open. It is definitely worth the time to take a side trip here. We arrived just as a boat was approaching, getting t...  read more »
  • This is a unique engineering marvel allowing boats to pass up or down past a high water falls in the Trent Severn Waterway. Well worth the side trip by road or the water trip on the waterway to see it...  read more »
  • PLEASE NOTE that the Big Chute Marine Railway is in Big Chute, Ontario, not in Honey Harbour!!!
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