Key Valley Railway: Lost Channel

Lake steamship "Kawigamog" at the dock
Lake steamship “Kawigamog” at the dock

Of the major locations on the Key Valley Railway, Lost Channel was the obvious choice to study first.

One of the techniques I used with great success in the past was to use vintage aerial photographs to determine trackage patterns and building locations. For the Key valley Railway, I purchased a set of 1928 aerial photographs for the Lost Channel area. These photos are approximately 1:25000 scale, and can show a fair amount of detail. I’m fairly happy with the technique, although the 1920’s vintage photos are very grainy and lack a lot of detail. I’ve scanned one of the photographs in and annotated it with the important town features I’ve been able to determine so far.

Lost Channel Actual

It is clear from this aerial photo that the eastern terminus of the Key Valley Railway was literally the boardway at the sawmill. I had, at first, interpreted the buildings around the sawmill as a tramway structure. However, after closely reading John Macfie’s “Parry Sound Logging Days” book, I learned that the KVR loaded lumber directly from the sorting boardway onto flatcars for transfer to Pakesley, where the major KVR lumber yards were. Given the lack of real estate around the Lost Channel town site, this is hardly surprising that there was no large lumber yard there.

Macfie’s book mentions that there were 12 or 13 spurs running into the boardway. This is confirmed in the following photograph of the sawmill area:

Key Valley Railway Tracks at the Lost Channel Sawmill

Typical operations would have the Lost Channel yard engine (one of the Shays most probably) spot one flatcar on each spur, parked right up to the boardway floor. Each car was probably assigned to handle a specific grade and dimension of lumber. When the right grade and dimension of board came to a sorter, he would pick it up, turn and stack it on the appropriate flatcar. When a flatcar was filled, the yard engine would swap it with an empty. I assume that when enough cars were filled, a run would be made to Pakesley and an equal number of empties pulled back to Lost Channel.

Lying to the west of the sawmill was the station for Lost Channel. It served both the town site of Lost Channel as well as the local lake steamer, the “Kawigamog”. The lead photograph shows a jumble of buildings wedged between the KVR mainline and the lake itself.

Further to the west where land was easier to clear and develop, the KVR built a small yard to service the sawmill and a wye to turn locomotives.