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.