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Timmins history: The rail overpass that will disappear in a few years

Call it the overpass, the underpass, or its original name, the subway. It isn’t as iconic as the McIntyre headframe, but it is a local landmark.  It will be relegated to history sometime in the next few years.

Timmins Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann says it was built in 1916, to allow trains to cross above increasing car traffic. Streets in the area were laid out differently back then, causing problems with blind spots.  So in 1926, the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railroad (T&NO) tried building a better overpass.

“There was a middle post in it,” says Bachmann. “Some ding-dongs drove their cars directly into the post, causing some chaos for lots of people. Some poor person fell off the train and fell down and into the traffic and was run over.”

A couple of redesigns resulted in the post being replaced by more of a concrete wall.

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With the road being underneath the tracks and lower than on either side, the subway soon became known for epic flooding.

“And the flooding starts right away, right in the 1920s,” Bachmann notes.

To this day, significant rainfall causes flooding.  Cars stall and get stuck in the water.

“When you look at it, it’s almost like a little soup bowl,” Bachmann observes. “Any type of monumental rains and you end up with that flooding situation and it’s something that’s been there almost a hundred years.”

The structure will be removed and the road brought up to grade when connecting link reconstruction reaches it.

This war memorial once stood near the overpass.
(Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre)
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