A 114 mile journey (24 photos)Friday, September 14, 2012 by: Connie Carello
Departing from the Algoma Central Railway depot located in front of the Station Mall on Bay Street, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train allows tourists to literally escape from it all.
Leaving the station promptly at 8 a.m. and returning at 6 p.m., the train moves 40 km/h down the line passing familiar local industries such as the former St. Mary’s Paper and Essar Steel.
The train continues north alongside the Searchmont highway, crossing Goulais River, and passing several beautiful lakes, including Little Achigan Lake, Ogidaki Lake, Trout Lake, Mekatina Lake, and Regent Lake all before crossing a trestle over the Montreal River at mile 92.
Approximately 39.6 metres high and 472.4 metres long the trestle provides a breathtaking view of the power dam which supplies Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area.
The locomotive slows its pace to allow passengers the opportunity to photograph the train crossing the trestle from large pane windows which were recently upgraded.
In addition, an advanced GPS system with commentary available in five languages including English, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin was installed.
The commentary provides passengers with insightful information as the locomotive moves down the line indicating what attractions or points of interest lay ahead.
With several monitors mounted throughout the car, passengers are also able to enjoy a conductor’s “eye-view” as digital cameras record the train’s progress down the line.
The recent upgrades, totalling approximately $11 million dollars, serve to escalate the relaxing experience the tour provides.
While sitting comfortably in the red cushioned seats, passengers are able to watch the mixed forests change colour from rich shades of green, to light tones of red and yellow.
Such marvellous landscapes were the inspiration for several painters, including the Group of Seven.
It is no wonder people want to capture the sights along the line through works of art or photographs as the scenery cannot be thoroughly expressed through words.
When pulling up to mile 114, the train stops and allows passengers the opportunity to explore what is referred to as the “jewel” of the tour, Agawa Canyon Park.
Visitors are allotted an hour and a half to explore waterfalls or partake in a climb up the lookout perched 250 feet above the canyon floor.
Those who wish to recharge are able to do so as picnic tables are located beside a souvenir cart alongside the Agawa River.
The tea-like colour of the water is a result of the tannic acid which leaches into the river from the roots and bark of cedar trees.
Close by, the Talus Trail provides passage to both the Black Beaver Falls and Bridal Veil Falls which cascade peacefully into a bountiful scenery of lush green forest.
To date, approximately three million people have experienced the excursion into this remote, pristine landscape.
Formed over 1.2 billion years ago due to faulting, the Agawa Canyon is truly a remarkable tourist attraction that is unique in comparison to those made by man.
Its appearance has been shaped by none other than natural elements including an ice age which affected the Canyon over a period of 1.5 million years, with the last ice cover melting nearly 10,000 years ago.
To stand at the base of the canyon feels miraculous as you are surrounded by bedrock and cascading waterfalls in a picturesque haven.
Since fall is fast approaching, the tour which runs from June 26 to October 14, will increase in price from $85 to $105 as of September 14.
A highly recommended Sault Ste. Marie attraction, well worth the ride, even if you are a local!
For more information, please visit www.agawacanyontourtrain.com.