The Cobourg and Peterborough Railway, incorporated 1852, was similarly ill fated. Construction began in 1853 but a cholera epidemic ravaged the German immigrants who had signed on for $1 a day. The Rice Lake bridge - at nearly 5 km long the longest in North America - was largely completed by the end of 1853. It consisted of a long trestle set on piles, with 33 truss spans (24 m each) and a 36 m swing section in the navigation channel. The bridge could not survive the grinding and shifts of winter ice and extensive repairs were required every spring; in 1860 the visiting Prince of Wales was not allowed to cross the bridge for fear it would collapse.
The following winter the bridge disintegrated entirely and with it faded Cobourg's hopes of becoming a thriving port. Its citizens had put up over $1 million for their 48 km railway. It was merged with the Marmora ironworks in 1866. The Peterborough to Rice Lake section eventually came under the control of the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY.
Author JAMES MARSH
Links to Other Sites
Harwood Station Museum
The Harwood Station Museum website offers historical details about the operation of Cobourg and Peterborough Railway in Ontario. Features several archival images of old railway structures and equipment, and more.