December 6, 2021
Overcoming great obstacles can have unforeseen benefits
Many railways routes were surveyed with a view to capturing the commerce of a district or hinterland for a particular city. For instance, promoters from Port Hope and Cobourg jockeyed over which port would control the commerce of Peterborough. Though in hindsight it might have been sensible to have built it earlier (it instantly became a busy line and was one of the last to be abandoned), a direct line from Lindsay to Peterborough was constructed late in the development of local railways. When this line opened to commercial traffic on January 1, 1884, just over 26 years had passed since the railway came to Lindsay. By then it was a “missing link” in an otherwise fairly complete rail network.
A direct route from Lindsay to Peterborough crossed a drumlin field, which would tend to create a roller coaster. Since trains cannot climb hills (grades are typically kept below 1%) even though the route was carefully chosen, engineering marvels were still necessary. Without the heavy machinery we now take for granted, filling to create embankments was extremely laborious, so it was actually less expensive to build enormous trestles. The original wooden Doube’s Trestle was 1500 feet long and 70 feet high. In 1920 it was rebuilt as a much smaller 700-foot steel trestle, but requiring much more embankment.
Once it was abandoned after a century of railway service and converted into a hiking trail, Doube’s Trestle became a local landmark. The structure is itself spectacular and one of the most popular lookouts in the Kawartha Lakes. Thousands of visitors make the trek annually and enjoy the view of farm fields and a creek meandering through its valley.