Sunday, March 28, 2010

Port Wade Pier

When I first moved to this part of Nova Scotia we were living in a house in Granville Beach with a wonderful view of the Annapolis Basin. The adjoining property ran down toward the water and the dyked Dentabella Marsh. This was an interesting pasture to walk since there were many birds as well as some old stone fences to discover. On one of my first hikes to explore the land I discovered a long disused feature on the landscape. Knowing that I was in the region that Acadians had fought so hard to reclaim from the Bay of Fundy's tides, I figured that this was an early dyke. The fact that the current dyke was much further out did not seem to register with me. When I mentioned my discovery to one of the long time residents I received a somewhat bemused smile. I was politely told that these were not the remains of an old dyke but the bed for a long defunct railway. I am sure that my friend left wondering about the new guy at the museum. While I had not previously known about the railway, I had no idea about what was found at the end of the line.

The railway in question did have passenger service but, it was established to deliver iron ore from Torbrook to Port Wade on the shores of the Annapolis Basin. To export the ore in a cost effective manner a deep water port was needed. In 1909, the T.J. Drummond Company from Montreal began to expand the existing port Wade Pier. A steam powered winch was brought in to widen the wooden pier and to build a 50 foot loading tower. When trains arrived the ore was loaded into hoppers which were taken to waiting ships via an endless chain. At peak operation, the facility was said to be able to load 1000 tons of ore per hour.

Sadly, the facility was only used for three years. In 1913, there was a dip in the price of iron ore and the mines in Torbrook closed. By 1927, the rails and the ore loading facility had been removed. The Port Wade Pier was demolished in 1985. Today, the visible signs of this endeavour are the remains of the rail bed running along the side of the Annapolis Basin and the freight car turntable slowly being taken over by grass and roses in Port Wade. At some point in the future, I will try to get some pictures for a post on the turntable.

All for now,

*Note (written two days later)
I came across another source last night and I have some of the history of the railway wrong. I am not going to change this post but, I will make another post at some point in the future. While the railway did begin operation about the time that the Torbrook mine started, it was established to help develop the economy of the Granville region a couple of years before. The history of the Pier is correct.

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