Nepean Junction Mystery
Today, Ottawa Central trains going west
towards Arnprior or
Pembroke take the Beachburg subdivision from the junction with the
at Wass. They cross Ottawa as far as Nepean Junction
Renfrew subdivision diverges from the Beachburg line.
An early view of Nepean
west not long after it was opened to traffic.
This shows the Renfrew line diverging to the left and dropping down to
reach the old original alignment.
(Canadian Science and Technology Museum Mattingly
It wasn’t always like this. The first to be built was the Renfrew line
opened on 18
September 1893 as part of J.R. Booth’s Ottawa,
Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway (OA&PS). The
OA&PS ran out of Ottawa
along the alignment of the present day Queensway. The
Beachburg subdivision was opened 22 years
later by the Canadian Northern Railway on 15 October 1915.
The Beachburg line crossed the Renfrew line
on an overbridge and this state of affairs continued, even after both
came under the same management of Canadian National in 1923, until 28
1952. On that date, a new connection was
opened between the two lines, the junction was named Nepean and all
Canadian National trains were
diverted over the Beachburg subdivision. This
lead to the abandonment of the former OA&PS line
from Island Park Drive
to Nepean Junction and allowed for the eventual construction of the
on much of this alignment.
This shows a
westbound freight train on the Beachburg subdivision crossing over the
line. The lower line was abandoned in
1952 when Nepean
Junction was laid in and all trains started to use the upper line.
and Technology Museum Mattingly collection)
So far this is a pretty straightforward story. The connection was put in as the first in a
number of stages in the relocation of the railways of Ottawa which was
funded by the National
Capital Commission. The funding might be
clue as to why it took Canadian National some 30 years to carry out
project which would reduce their track maintenance costs – the funding
provided by the NCC and not the cash-strapped railway.
view of the overbridge looking east towards Ottawa just after the
lower portion had been abandoned and the rails lifted.
In my title I refer to a “mystery”. Bridges
are a valuable asset and when a
bridge is removed, the railway will normally remove it for use
sell it for scrap. However, in this
case, the railway, or the NCC, removed the heavy side girders but left
central spacing portion upon which the rails are actually laid. This was moved and left in the bush close to
the Beachburg subdivision, but some way away west of its original
location. It is still there today. I would be curious to know why part of the
original structure was moved and left in the area.
The remains of the bridge abandoned in the
on 18 November 2006. From a rough
measurement, this is the same size as the original bridge.
Central Railway, Spareboard, July 2008.