What a great afternoon it was today. We actually are on our third day of sunshine here on PEI and it’s great. Mind you it’s going to rain this evening so I guess all good things come to an end.
We haven’t been out together on our bikes for a while and Krista suggested we ride from St. Peter’s down to Morell. This is a really great length of trail and I’d recommend it to anyone. The line from St. Peter’s is a long, slow grade up to Morell but it’s not too tricky. There are a number of driveways and farm tracks that cross the trail but no roads so it’s nice to really not have to worry about cars. This is also another of those stretches of (former) railway that serve to remind me of just how picturesque a trip along the PEI railway would have been.
Given that this stretch of railway travels along the edge of the bay at the foot of farmland you get a sense that not much has really changed since the railway ran either so it really helps to illustrate what was. I was really surprised to see how many culverts there were along this stretch of line. Given that most of the adjoining farmland washes against the roadbed it’s easy to see that these culverts would have been a great asset. On that subject it occurred to me how you never really see modellers include culverts along their own model lines. They’d be simple enough to build from scratch and they are also generally available as finished castings from Chooch and Woodland Scenics in HO scale. I took a picture of a typical one and I counted over a dozen along this stretch of railway and I’ve included those shots in the gallery attached to this post. As we headed out on our ride today I really was curious to see if any traces were left of the branchline/siding that had been laid in Midgell down to the water to harvest mussel mud and I also wanted to see if there were any traces left of the swing bridge that was build to cross the Morell River just outside Morell.
The Province has put up a really neat little information plaque in what I assume must be close to the site in Midgell for the mussel mud branch. The plaque notes that between fifty and sixty carloads of mud were dredged out of the bay during the winter, each winter, and I’ll admit that I had no idea this business was so big. The one picture I’ve seen of this operation shows some low-sided narrow gauge gondolas being loaded on the wharf at Midgell. The cars themselves were little more than flat cars with a plank added. I image the mud would have been heavy and a carload wouldn’t have been much. That said the quantity of cars to switch in and out of this industry would be major during harvest season and I think this would be a fun addition to a model railway based on the area (hint, hint, hint!). The plaque included a photograph of the rake used to gather this mud and I’m sure a trip down to the Archives would yield more information on this process.
The bridge at Morell however was a real gold mine. Most of the original stonework is still in place and the pilings are also mostly in place too. It’s not hard to get a sense of how this thing was built and enough of it is left to really help the modeller in his design work. I tried to take as many pictures as I could and I plan on returning this summer with a tape measure and camera again to get some measurements and start some drawings.
From the (let’s not count) number of pictures I took this afternoon, here’s a sample with an emphasis on the Morell River bridge. I’ve also included some photos of the plaques along the line and the little abutments I mentioned at the start of this post.