During 2015 and 2016, a group of history enthusiasts rebuilt a replica of a Crossen Ore Car. The result is displayed on the Cobourg waterfront near the Marina. Below is a reproduction of the text (well, most of it) plus a photo.


At the end of the U.S. Civil War there was great demand for steel to rebuild the nation. American investors learned of a high quality deposit of iron ore at Blairton, Ontario. 3 miles West of Marmora. They decided to build a 12 mile railway to carry ore from the mine to the Trent River. There it would be tipped into barges and towed upstream to Harwood on Rice Lake. It would then be carried to Cobourg Harbour, on a part of the then defunct Cobourg and Peterborough Railway, for eventual shipment to Pittsburgh. This plan became reality in 1867.

Mr. James Crossen owned an Iron Foundry in Cobourg on College Street beside where St Peter's Church stands. He built 100 tipping ore cars, like the one in this exhibit, to carry the iron ore on the railways. Shipments of ore continued until 1882 when much larger deposits were discovered in the American Midwest. In total about 150,000 tons of iron ore were shipped, by large sailing ships, from Cobourg for the rebuilding of the United States.

By 1881, operation of the mine had ceased but stockpiles still had to be shipped. A train of loaded cars was tipping ore into waiting barges at Trent River when the locomotive engineer bumped six loaded cars off the rails and into the river. 100 years later Parks Canada, assisted by professional divers Brian McCrodan and Auzzi Briann (Trent Severn Waterway), managed to raise parts of four of the cars from the river for historical purposes. All wooden parts were severely eroded by the moving sand in the river and the metal parts were heavily corroded. Included in the recovery were the original 3ft diameter cast iron wheels made in 1865 at the Montreal Wheel Works in Quebec.

ore carSome metal parts were refurbished but the wood was beyond repair. The parts were packaged and stored in a Cornwall warehouse, for almost 30 years, until Ken Willcocks and George Parker expressed an interest on behalf of the Cobourg Museum Foundation. Parks Canada agreed to release parts of two of the original ore cars with no conditions attached. From these much damaged parts George Parker produced scale drawings of what we thought the original Ore Cars looked like. These drawings were used by our volunteers to build the full size Replica.

The Replica was built during 2015 and 2016 by retired enthusiasts Henry Heideman, Paul Chandler. Dean Tapscott, Ron Rose, Peter Dullard, and Ken Willcocks in space very kindly donated in the former Kraft plant by Mr. Brian Kinmond. The Replica incorporates many original 1867 metal parts including the very heavy cast iron wheels and draw bars with chain hooks. Wood parts were sawn from local white oak trees at the 1830 Hope Mill near Peterborough. Once the car was completed it was taken apart. Metal parts were sandblasted to remove any rust and then painted while the wood received three coats of boiled linseed oil to help preserve it.


You can see more of the story of the ore car including a scale model and a lot more about the Cobourg Peterborough Railway by going to the Sifton-Cook Museum on Orr street - next to the Cobourg Legion off Hibernia Street.