Welland Canal Parklands Walking Tour - CNR Railway to the Reservoir


This is a very popular section and site of the "Blue Ghost Tunnel". I found out recently that the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation wants to keep the section off limits. Please appreciate the photos but there won't be any hiking suggestions.
1.
Overhead photo, 1921: There's a lot to see here, but pay special attention to the railway track going under the canal in the picture, St. Davids Rd. can be seen crossing the railway a little lower down on the photo. Several houses can also be seen nearby along the road. Construction of the reservoir has already started, which is why St Davids road suddenly stops on the right side.
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2.
Lock 17: Lock 17 is the most beautiful lock to photograph. This shot is taken from near the railway bridge. The locks walls are in perfect shape except for the removal of stones at the near end. It also has the best waterfall of any nearby lock.
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3.
Lock 18: I took this shot from near Lock 17. Lock 18 is the last lock being used as a waterway from the reservoir.
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4.
Blue Ghost Tunnel: The tunnel was originally built to go under the Third Welland Canal between locks 18 and 19. The tunnel is actually famous and gets about 100 visitors a month.

Some people also claim that the tunnel is haunted a phenomena generally linked to either a train crash or a nearby graveyard.

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5.
Inside: The tunnel has also been called the Grand Western Railway Tunnel after the company that used it. The original idea was to have an unrestricted route under the canal, but the tunnel only supported one track. When two tracks were needed the tunnel became obsolete.

After just a few years of use the iron swing bridge was built between locks 16 and 17 and the tunnel was no longer used.

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6.
Support beams: Sometime around 1998 - 2000, the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the company that ran the current Welland Canal at the time, decided that the tunnel needed reinforcements. A false floor was built and support beams were put in.

It's good that the ceiling is safe but I've already seen 3 people hit their heads on them.

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7.
St. Davids Rd. Bridge: St. Davids Rd. used to cross over the railway just west of the Blue Ghost Tunnel. Here's a picture of the supports. They still appear to be in perfect condition.
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8.
House Foundations: When you look at an overhead photo of this area from the 1920's you can see several farm houses in the area. Today only the foundations are left from two houses. The photo at right show whats left of one of the houses.
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9.
Danger: Another landmark of the area is this gatehouse with the big sign. It's hard to know what to make of the sign or what kind of emergency would require fully opening the gates. It might be interesting to watch though.
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10.
Gate House Raceway: The gatehouse actually controls overflow from the Present Canal and sends it down the Third Welland Canal. The raceway here continues until it approaches Lock 18 at the far end.
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11.
Waterfalls: This would be a bad place to trip and fall. For some reason the gate house also has this second level where additional gates can allow more water around the side of the gatehouse.
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12.
Lock 19: Lock 19 is mostly buried under a service road and only accessible using a footpath that starts at the gatehouse. There isn't much to see here, but typical of most of Welland Canal Parklands, there's a well used path leading up to the lock.
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13.
Lock 19 - Iron Object: It seems like every lock has some artifacts of the Old Welland Canal. I have no idea what this is, but it's still connected to Lock 19.
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14.
Lock 20 and 21: I can't recommend it but a lot of people enjoy exploring the Welland Canal when it's drained for the winter. I have a few pictures showing what the two locks look like in the reservoir.

This shot appears to be from the north edge of the reservoir zooming in on lock 20 in the foreground and lock 21 in the background. If you look closely you can also see a church steeple above the locks showing how close they are to Thorold. (Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)

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15.
Lock 20: Even with the water drained this lock is still mostly buried. Here's a look down the length of lock 20, you can see the gatehouse in the background. (Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)
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16.
Lock 21 - far away shot: Here's a look at an ominous looking lock 21. As you can see the lock has a very clean look and appears to be in good condition. (Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)
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17.
Lock 21 - Close up: Here's a look inside lock 21. You can see part of a wooden gate that has resisted rotting for some reason, leaving a fairly good representation of what the gates looked like on the Third Welland Canal.(Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)
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