Mussel Mud on the Railway

I’m reading “Gone to the Bay” by Juanita Rossiter. The book is a well written and fascinating history of the St Peters Bay area and I’d recommend it.

Starting on page 95 the book starts to get into some interesting details on how mussel mud was dredged from the Midgell and Marie areas and how it was hauled by the railway. Apparently the mud dredging started in the area in 1907. Dredging the mud would be a wintertime activity. Once dug up the mud would be carried by sleigh to the Midgell station and was “loaded on to flat cars” as the book states.

The sheer volume of mud being dredged from the area was so great and that in 1915 the PEI government built a proper wharf out into the bay at Midgell. The following year the Government placed a proper dredge in place to help. The book quotes the wharf as being 420ft. in length. A photo of this wharf is included in Allan Graham’s book.

The book includes a great quote recognizing the role the railway played in the mussel mud industry and quotes 1251 ears of mud delivered at the wharf and a further 700 applications still waiting. I have no idea how much an “ear” of mud is but it sounds like something I’ll have to look up. I do remember the trail marker at Midgell quoting around 600 car loads so I guess it’s a lot.

It sounds like the industry and it’s supplies were pretty much done by the late 1930’s. All in all I never expected this industry to be such a major one. In a great email Steve Hunter pointed out that if would make for a busy railway with sidings jammed full of cars for hauling potatoes and now these mud-hauling cars too. I think he’s absolutely right and it should make for some really fascinating model railway operations.

If you get a chance check out the book. It’s s great read and your local library might even be able to get one through inter-library loan:
Gone to the Bay
Juanita Rossiter
ISBN 2 3392 0058 2008 1


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