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Big Chute Marine Railway
On sunny weekends, my husband and I often jump in the car and spend the day touring around Ontario.

Yesterday, we found ourselves North of Barrie and remembered that the Big Chute Marine Railway was up that way.  I've wanted to go see it since I was about 5 and first read about it in a textbook.  Being a mechanical designer, it obviously holds an attraction!  Here are some photos and videos I shot.

The most impressive aspect of the system to me is the ropeway system.  There are 4 separate electric winches in the machine room, each spooling a large rope which passes through stationary pulleys, and the other end is fixed permanently to the bottom of the carriage.  The track is an inverted "U" shape if looking from the side, and at either side, all 4 ropes are in tension.  So at 2 points during the more horizontal section of track, pairs of ropes pass over pulleys that change the direction of tension - so while the carriage is moving, 2 of the huge winches slow down, stop, and change direction... all perfectly synchronized.  From a modern day controls standpoint, that's relatively easy to do... but 30+ years ago, when it was built, it would have been almost unthinkable.

Just such a cool setup.  It's the only one in North America.  There is an absolutely massive one in Russia that moves 1500 ton ships over a generating station, and a big inclined plane in Belgium I want to see someday, too.





For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain




For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
I've been a few times to watch it and it's always fascinating to see what looks like a low level platform rise out of the water to tower over you as you follow it up/down the stairs to the other lake.

I also enjoy watching the lift locks in Kirkfield. There's a set in Peterborough too, but I haven't seen them in action yet.
I've always thought it is unfortunate that the lift locks aren't actually in Kirkfield. I imagine the community would blossom if they were.
How so? I wouldn't imagine that Lift Locks would have any impact on urban development...
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
I think it's more that a pedestrian connection from the locks to the town isn't formally there diminishing any canal related bump in the local economy. The locks are about 3 km north of Kirkfield, thus making it seem unlikely that users of the canal would go into town to refill on supplies. There is a restaurant right across the street from the locks (which thankfully makes change for those who don't have exact change when trying to leave the locks lot), but had they routed the canal closer to the town, it might be more feasible for canal users to meander down the road if they want some time off the boat.
Locks are often places where boats stop overnight and can be tourist attractions in their own right. If the canal went right through Kirkfield, you would likely have seen more urban cottages built their over the years, more people spending time there, and therefore more restaurants and services located there.

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