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There are few tunnels in southern Ontario.  Here is the western portal of the 700 foot long tunnel built by the Great Western Railway under the third Welland Canal (the current canal is the fourth), between locks 18 & 19. It was faced with local limestone and known as the Merritton Tunnel when it was opened in 1887.  

After about ten years of use, the mainline (was it known as the Grimsby Sub in those days?) was double tracked and a swing bridge, still in use today, was built. There is a picture here of this bridge still spanning the no longer used third canal: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=18395  

The tunnel was abandoned in 1915, and since this photo was taken, I believe it has been walled up.  Even when accessible you could not pass through the tunnel, as it has flooded at its lowest point.  And being built on a curve you can’t see through it either.   Known locally as the ‘Blue Ghost Tunnel’, this is likely due to the number of deaths that it has caused.  According to reports, over a hundred men died in its construction, which seems like a lot given its short length and that tunnelling technology was well established by the late 19th century.  

And in 1903 a head-on collision, apparently on the approach to the western portal, killed the firemen on both locomotives.  ,

Here is the account from the St. Catherines Daily Standard, January 3rd 1903.

"BAD TRAIN WRECK, No.4 Express Collides with a light Mogul Near Merritton Tunnel." 

"On the Grand Trunk rail line near Merritton a serious and fatal accident occurred near the Merritton Tunnel today. The accident occurred around 7:03am at a point about 100 yards from the tunnels western entrance. Engine Number 975 was an 80 ton mogul train to leave from Niagara falls at 6:00am each morning and run through to Hamilton . 

Engine Number 4 express train was one of the best and fastest trains on the G.T. R. and was scheduled to arrive in Merritton at 6:28am. The Engineer's name was Duke and the fireman that manned the boiler was Abraham Desult both from Sarnia. As nearly as can be learned it was 7:03 am when the ill-fated express train passed a small telegraph station near the tunnel, 

A few moments later and almost one third of a mile down the track the engine of the express train and the light mogul train met with a terrible crash. Both engines at the time of the collision were in full steam when they met head on. The accident happened on a sharp curve where both engineers could not see each other for a distance of 200ft. The estimated speed of both trains were about 22MPH at the time of the collision. 

Both engineers escaped with only broken limbs and minor cuts to face and arms while Mr. Charles Horning (firemen) for the express train was killed instantly. The reporter described the condition of the body as being jammed between the boiler and tender, his body was horribly mangled. When rescuers went to pull on the limbs of the man to try to free him they broke off. When some of the remains were taken away, his mid section was so tightly wedged between the tender and boiler that his remaining body could not be pulled free. It was even noted that his watch on one of his arms was still working...... 

The other firemen (Abraham Desult) from the mogul train was smashed into the boiler of the train, and received burns to 90% of his body. He was rushed to the St.Catharines General Hospital were he died 5 hours after the accident."
Copyright Notice: This image ©Tony Bock all rights reserved.



Caption: There are few tunnels in southern Ontario. Here is the western portal of the 700 foot long tunnel built by the Great Western Railway under the third Welland Canal (the current canal is the fourth), between locks 18 & 19. It was faced with local limestone and known as the Merritton Tunnel when it was opened in 1887. After about ten years of use, the mainline (was it known as the Grimsby Sub in those days?) was double tracked and a swing bridge, still in use today, was built.

Here is a picture of this bridge still spanning the no longer used third canal: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=18395

The tunnel was abandoned in 1915, and since this photo was taken, I believe it has been walled up. Even when accessible you could not pass through the tunnel, as it has flooded at its lowest point. And being built on a curve you can’t see through it either.

Known locally as the ‘Blue Ghost Tunnel’, this is likely due to the number of deaths that it has caused. According to reports, over a hundred men died in its construction, which seems like a lot given its short length and that tunnelling technology was well established by the late 19th century. And in 1903 a head-on collision, apparently on the approach to the western portal, killed the firemen on both locomotives.

Here is the account from the St. Catherines Daily Standard, January 3rd 1903. "BAD TRAIN WRECK, No.4 Express Collides with a light Mogul Near Merritton Tunnel." "On the Grand Trunk rail line near Merritton a serious and fatal accident occurred near the Merritton Tunnel today. The accident occurred around 7:03am at a point about 100 yards from the tunnels western entrance. Engine Number 975 was an 80 ton mogul train to leave from Niagara falls at 6:00am each morning and run through to Hamilton . Engine Number 4 express train was one of the best and fastest trains on the G.T. R. and was scheduled to arrive in Merritton at 6:28am. The Engineer's name was Duke and the fireman that manned the boiler was Abraham Desult both from Sarnia. As nearly as can be learned it was 7:03 am when the ill-fated express train passed a small telegraph station near the tunnel, A few moments later and almost one third of a mile down the track the engine of the express train and the light mogul train met with a terrible crash. Both engines at the time of the collision were in full steam when they met head on. The accident happened on a sharp curve where both engineers could not see each other for a distance of 200ft. The estimated speed of both trains were about 22MPH at the time of the collision. Both engineers escaped with only broken limbs and minor cuts to face and arms while Mr. Charles Horning (firemen) for the express train was killed instantly. The reporter described the condition of the body as being jammed between the boiler and tender, his body was horribly mangled. When rescuers went to pull on the limbs of the man to try to free him they broke off. When some of the remains were taken away, his mid section was so tightly wedged between the tender and boiler that his remaining body could not be pulled free. It was even noted that his watch on one of his arms was still working...... The other firemen (Abraham Desult) from the mogul train was smashed into the boiler of the train, and received burns to 90% of his body. He was rushed to the St.Catharines General Hospital were he died 5 hours after the accident."

Photographer:
Tony Bock [49] (more) (contact)
Date: 1999 (search)
Railway: Grand Trunk Western (search)
Reporting Marks: Not Provided
Train Symbol: Not Provided
Subdivision/SNS: Not Provided
City/Town: Merritton (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
Share Link: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=19247
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8 Comments
  1. There’s a trail off of Glendale you can take to get to it

  2. Ahhh…thats right, Brad. I remember that show. And I also read a book on roughly the same. If I recall correctly the commentator claimed screams and cries could be heard some nights from deep in the bowls of that tunnel and so it was declared haunted. So THIS is the tunnel. Neat folklore !!!

  3. The show ‘Creepy Canada’ had a good feature on the ‘Blue Ghost Tunnel’ about a decade ago. I believe they shot right at the tunnel. Lots of videos if you YouTube ‘creepy canada blue ghost tunnel’. :) Thanks for the history They don’t build tunnels like they used to. ;)

  4. I visited this spot before security was tightened around the canal. Even then it was hard to find. Now, my understanding is that getting into this area is no longer possible. Is there any access?

  5. Mr Mooney, there’s a very easy way around that, and it’s still heavily used.

  6. THIS is fascinating. I remember a tunnel around there somewhere from seeing it years ago. However, is it not only accessible now from the truck road to Glendale GM plant? That road is now strongly gated and monitored. Years ago it was open, so to speak, to the public and kids went drinking and rode their ATVs thru that area. A book on Ghosts of Ontario published mentioned a tunnel and I am thinking this is the same one.

  7. If you can, please put the exact location on here. I’d like to visit the location.

  8. Tony can you get the correct GPS co-ordinates and send to the dbeditor?

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