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What do you do when a train gets stuck in a snowbank? Get out the shovels!

March 19, 2023

Digging out the rail line, thought to be the Victoria Railway south of Fenelon Falls

Can you imagine travelling on a train, only to have it grind to a halt when it hit a snowdrift? And then how much shovelling it would take to get the iron horse rolling again?

Turn of the century locomotives were fitted with snowplows, which usually allowed them to clear the tracks as they travelled. But every once in a while, they would hit a drift that was so big it could stop a train (literally). A train stuck in a massive snowdrift would be quite the sight, and then practically everyone around would get their shovel and help dig out the track, which often entailed moving massive amounts of snow—a task that would be unthinkable today. In those days, everyone would chip in for the common good—it was the only way that society could get by. People were not phased by hard physical labour—it was an everyday reality. Much like the bees where farmers came together to pull stumps or thresh grain, neighbours often had a great time when they worked together.

This set of photographs was taken by Harry Littleton of Fenelon Falls, who was one of the few village residents at the time who had a camera.

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