Local man searches for old locomotive at the bottom of Dry Lake
A 100-year-old locomotive lies somewhere at the bottom of Dry Lake north of Napanee, and one local resident is on a mission to find it.
Ross Cameron, with the help of his daughter Christine and his friend Adrian Brown, wants to locate the engine, a valuable part of the region’s 19th- and 20th-century early rail history.
Cameron has a satellite image that shows the remnants of the old rail line under water. He says it’s the most likely place to start. “So that’s the area we’re going to look for it.”
Railway historian Steve Manders has written extensively about eastern Ontario’s rail history. He says this engine was used at a cement plant that was built on the edge of the lake.
“It was just a little shunting engine for hauling the marl out of the lake.”
Marl is a clay-like substance that makes high-quality cement, according to Manders.
“They put it in their own locally made wooden barrels and shipped it all over the world,” he said. “I’m told it got used in making the Panama Canal.”
Manders believes the locomotive was abandoned as the cement plant wound down around 1910.
Cameron doesn’t dispute that, but in talking to residents who live in the immediate area, he’s heard other stories about how the locomotive jumped the tracks and ended up at the bottom of the lake. Speculation varies. Was the driver drunk? Or maybe the driver was under orders from the foreman to go too fast to get a job done.
“How it went off the tracks — that’s for speculation,” Cameron says.
Cameron says removing the locomotive from the bottom of the lake would be too expensive, but he hopes to eliminate some of the mystery by documenting the engine’s exact location.
Cameron says he plans to share any findings with local historians.
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