We are a fourth generation railroading family. When I met my husband, I quickly became interested in the railroad industry, trains and it's history. Because I'm a nerd. In case you haven't figured that out yet...
I remember sitting and listening to stories his grandfather would tell about working on the rails, and was so proud when my husband followed in the family career tradition. Anything to do with trains, I am on it!
So when I came across this pin on Pinterest just last month, I wondered how the heck we hadn't heard about this before!
I quickly set up camping reservations in Charleston Lake and planned a road trip for the following week!
Brockville, Ontario is home to the first train tunnel ever built in Canada and has been boarded up and lying under the city for decades.
I keep telling everyone who asks about it: I want to meet the genius who had the idea to open it up for the public to enjoy. Part exhibit, part trail, part light and sound experience, this is the coolest train excursions we have ever done!
The railway tunnel itself was left untouched, and the floor was redone to connect it to the Brock Trail, a paved walking and cycling trail through the city of Brockville. At the main entrance there is a railway track pattern imprinted into it. It would have been so cool if it was like that all the way through, but I kind of like how it was only at the beginning and faded away and matched the rest of the Brock Trail's paved path, alluding to the changing times. However, do be careful, the tunnel was designed and built to allow runoff water to slip through so it doesn't collapse, so the floor is a bit slippery in places.
Along the edges of the paved trail are lines of LED lights that not only illuminate the tunnel's walls, but will change colours along with different songs playing in the tunnel. Notably, it was all Canadian artists: we were jamming to Great Big Sea and the Tragically Hip while we walked. One awesome effect was the sound of the train whistle and red light that came through the tunnel - almost like a ghost train. Each time time this happened, the kids and I would just freeze and stare down the tunnel and follow the "train" with our eyes and ears.
When the lights stayed white, all the mineral deposits and little rock crevices where railroad workers made their mark over a hundred years ago were illuminated for us to see. Check out this photo of our daughter catching drips of filtered water from the tunnel's ceiling:
This was the week of our vacation during the heat wave - so this activity was some much needed relief from the heat. The tunnel runs almost 60 feet under the city of Brockville so it was nice to cool off.
Along the way are street signs that tell you where you are in the city above. The tunnel even passes under city hall! You can also find signs with old photographs and information about how the tunnel was made and history of the train industry.
I want to give a shout out to Lindsay at LindsayEmma.com for sharing about her adventures - her blog post and photographs made me plan this little road trip from Montreal to Brockville. If you happen to be on my blog looking for cool things to do around Ontario, do check out Lindsay's blog as well!
If you want to visit the railway tunnel, check out the official site. It's about 2 hours from Montreal and an hour from Ottawa. Entry is free, but you can make a donation at the entrance.
Melissa is a mom, wife, and early childhood educator who blogs about her journey looking for new experiences for family time.