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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
The last spikes: Vintage rail laid at old repair pit

After several months of talks with the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, an authentic railroad track has finally been installed on the former engine repair pit along Turntable Way.

“I’m speechless. Words fail me,” Ron Simkus said as the lakefront project he worked on concluded last week.

Simkus has been pushing to install a vintage rail on the recently discovered engine repair pit.

The rail, made in 1902 and salvaged from a site in Pickering by PGM Rail Services Ltd., was rolled in on a tractor-trailer. It is the first authentic rail track installed in town since the railroad was decommissioned in the 1950s.

The 900-plus pound, 40-foot rail had to be moved using a forklift and carefully placed by PGM’s professionals for installation.

Using specialized tools to move the heavy rail, it was placed on top of the original rail ties from the repair pit, which Simkus found on a neighbouring property during reconstruction.

Nick Leuchin, PGM’s manager of construction, and transport driver Dan Sherk did most of the work on behalf of PGM – free of charge.

“I feel like we’re working for the government, eight people watching and two guys working,” Simkus joked while the pros handled the rail.

After a few misses by Simkus with the sledgehammer, Leuchin stepped in to help.

“It’s been a long time since I did this,” he said.

He missed the first swing but the second one drove the spike straight into the ground.

Onlookers stood back and applauded while the spikes were hammered in.

Now that the rail is installed, Simkus hopes to have an informative plaque erected nearby to educate passersby on NOTL’s history as a once-mighty railway centre.

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