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The tunnel entrance in 2006, prior to being walled
|Other name(s)||Blue Ghost Tunnel
Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel
|Line||Grand Trunk Railway|
|Crosses||Third Welland Canal|
The Merritton Tunnel, also known as the Blue Ghost Tunnel and the Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel, is an abandoned railway tunnel that connected Merritton (now part of St. Catharines) and Thorold, Ontario. The decision to build the tunnel came from the need for "a more durable and less interrupted way to cross the new canal" situated directly above it via vehicles. Built in 1876, the tunnel is located between locks 18 and 19 of the former third Welland Canal, was built using Queenston limestone and spans a total length of 713 feet when including the winged stone work at either end. Hundreds of men armed with picks and shovels, as well as several horses were used in the excavation of the tunnel. The tunnel was used periodically until 1915, when Harry Eastwood was the last official engineer to pilot a train through the tunnel. Following that, the tunnel was used only occasionally by farmers to transport cattle or as a safe passage from the weather.
Several fatal accidents occurred during the construction and use of the tunnel and the railway running through it. In 1875, a fourteen-year-old was killed when they were crushed under a large rock. On January 3, 1903 at 7:03 AM, Engine Number 4 and Engine Number 975 met in a head-on collision approximately a third of a mile from the western entrance of the tunnel. The trains were moving at approximately 22 miles per hour when they crashed, and the firemen of both trains, Charles Harning of Engine Number 4 and Abraham Desult from Engine Number 975, died as a result of their injuries. In total, 107 men were killed during the construction of the tunnel and the canal in its surrounding area.
- Scribner's Magazine v. 11, p.282 - 1892 link
- Jackson, John N. The Welland Canals and Their Communities: Engineering, Industrial, and Urban Transformation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8020-0933-3 linkj
- Ontario. Bureau of Industries (1891). Annual Report of the Bureau of Industries for the Province of Ontario. The Bureau.
- The Hoosier Packet: News and Journal of the Canal Society of Indiana. Canal Society of Indiana. 2007.
- "THE GRAND TRUNK TUNNEL.". New York Times. August 8, 1891. Retrieved 2013-10-03.