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The Algoma Eastern Railway Today
Part 1: Sudbury to Espanola 

The Algoma Eastern Railway is today a mixture of operating railroad, rusting unused rail line, private access roads and abandoned right-of -way slowly being re-absorbed by Mother Nature.  Much of the abandoned right-of-way is inaccessible, however certain parts may be seen as noted in the descriptions below.

Sudbury yard, just to the northwest of the CN overpass on Frood Road has entirely disappeared.  The Nickel Spur still crosses the former yard area on its way to Creighton, but there are no signs of any of the buildings or track that formerly occupied this area..  Even the foundations for the water tank, which were visible in the 1970s have been covered over with a layer of fill.  At the west end of yard, the original CNoR transfer right-of-way which joined the AER at mile 1 can be found.  A pair of concrete culverts mark the original junction.

Following the line west we come to Clarabelle (Mile 4.8), CP's main access to the Inco Copper Cliff Smelter complex and still a busy freight source and destination.  Clarabelle is accessible from Hwy. 144 north of Copper Cliff.  About three kilometres beyond Sudbury turn left on the road to Copper Cliff.  The "new" station, which is a CPR structure, can be seen where the road south to Copper Cliff crosses the highway.  The track layout has changed over the years but is still similar to the AER layout of 1930.

Continuing west we reach the end of track just south of  the Creighton Mine open pit.  A spur into the site provides needed service.  Creighton Mine still produces ore, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, ensuring that this portion of the former AER will likely see continued use.  That being said, Canadian Pacific's current three year plan calls for this Sub to be transferred to a short line operator.  Creighton Mine can be reached by taking the road north from Lively, a small town about about eight kilometres west of Copper Cliff.  The turnoff to Creighton Mine is about three kilometres north of Lively.

Beyond Creighton the abandoned right-of-way is used as a private access road by Inco to the Gertrude Mine site some three kilometre beyond Creighton and to the site of the former O'Donnell roast yards a little over five kilometres beyond that.  If Inco ever decides to reopen Gertrude,  it is quite conceivable that rail could easily be re-laid back to the site.  Permission is required from Inco to access this portion of the right-of-way.  The access road ends near the site of the Vermilion River Bridge where the stone abutments may still be seen.  When leaving Creighton, instead of turning left off the mine access road to travel back to Lively, turn right and follow the road a little over a kilometre to Hwy. 144.  Turn right and about a half kilometre later you will come to an overpass over the old AER right-of-way.  About a half kilometre further on the west side of the road is the access road to Gertrude Mine.  This
High Falls
John Morgan  (1997)
A.E.R. Right-of-way at High
Falls looking east
site is posted and requires permission from Inco to enter.  The Gerturde access road joins with the AER right-of-way at the mine site.

From the Vermilion River to Turbine, the abandoned right-of-way shows as a summer only trail on the latest topographical maps although I believe that the access road running east from Crean Hill Mine to Lockerby Mine follows the old AER roadbed.

At Turbine the AER right-of-way crosses  High Fa ls road.  The roadbed can be clearly seen as a rough trail, both east and west of this road.  From Turbine to Nairn, the roadbed follows the Spanish River.  In some places is used as a Hydro right-of-way.  Between Turbine and Nairn the old roadbed can be seen in places to the north of Regional Road 3 to the Spanish River.  At a number of points along this road, the remains of broken down AER trestles may be seen sticking out of the Spanish River.

North of Nairn, a dirt access road leads east along the Spanish River.  This access road leads to the Nairn Falls generating station and is part of the old AER right-of-way.  West of Nairn the right-of-way moves south and crosses Hwy. 17.  South of Hwy. 17 the roadbed parallels the highway
Old AER trestle
John Morgan  (1997)
Remains of an A.E.R. trestle along the 
Spanish River
for a couple of kilometres and can be clearly seen until Hwy. 17 veers north to cross the Huron Central main line.

Just east of the Hwy. 17 crossing of the Spanish River, there is a dirt access road to the south of the highway.  This road crosses the Huron Central tracks and reverses direction to use the AER right-of-way for about a kilometre.  West of this access road the roadbed continues through the bush to the first Spanish River crossing about a 1.5 kilometres south of the Highway.  The trail then continues east to the current track heading south from McKerrow.  Most of this part of the roadbed has completely disappeared under reforestation projects.

The second operating portion of the original AER line heads south from a wye
Espanola junction
John Morgan  (1997)
Looking north to the site of the 
former A.E.R. Espanola Junction
junction at McKerrow to the Domtar paper mill at Espanola.  This part of the former Little Current Sub is operated under lease by the Huron Central Railroad.  The access road just west of McKerrow more or less parallels the spur.  The former junction with the AER mainline was just to the east of the end of this road where it "T"s into the road leading west to Hwy. 6.  There is no sign left of the junction with the former AER mainline.  Even the portion of the line that remained in the 1970s as a car cleaning siding and mentioned in Dale Wilson's history of the AER has long since disappeared.  In the accompanying picture the AER main line curved to the right about 200 feet north of the road crossing, about where the grey gravel ballast starts between the rails.  Follow Hwy. 6 south to Espanola.  Just north of the town, the highway crosses the Spanish River.  Looking to the east you can see a fine overview of the Domtar paper mill, the power dam in the Spanish River and the original steel truss bridge of the AER's second Spanish River crossing above it.

Continue with Part 2 
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