A Shiloh Line farmer says pieces of Petrolia’s famed “shortest railroad” still exist.
While construction crews were working on Petrolia Line as part of the $4.5 million reconstruction of the main road through the town, they discovered one of the old bridges beneath the surface. On it was a railroad line.
Local historians were quick to talk about a piece of Petrolia’s past, saying when the bridge was built, town fathers had the line installed immediately incase a trolley or train system would be built to Corunna.
After the story was published, The Independent received a call saying much of the railroad track was still intact and preserved on a farm on Shiloh Line.
Ron Brand recently took The Independent back into his field and unearthed the rail which has not been moved in decades.
Brand’s father was one of the original members of the Petrolia Rotary Club. He was also an auto wrecker and recognized the value of the steel being taken off the bridge and laid claim to it. “He was always looking for beams for the barn,” says Brand trudging back to the spot where the lines were laid.
He believes about 40 to 50 feet of the track was set aside for what was to be a fundraising project. Rotary members had plans to cut the rail made famous in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the world’s shortest rail line and sell them as a fund raiser – perhaps making bookends out of them.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, the rails laid on Brand’s property, barely thought about until the recent discovery of the old bridge.
Brand, who loves local history, says the bridge which was recently unearthed wasn’t the only one with rail track on it. Three bridges including the covered bridge in Petrolia Discovery Park, were equipped with the line.