by Elva Bates

THE I. B. & O.

The history of the I. B. & O. (Irondale, Bancroft & Ottawa) is well documented in "Haliburton by Rail and the I. B. & O." by Taylor Wilkins, but Theo Peacock has captured the nostalgia of the great I. B. & O. in his poem "End of the Line":

"A dream came to L. B. Howland

Some eighty years ago

And he said ĎI will open this Northern land

With a railroad, the I. B. & O.í

News broke of the railway pushing east

Gad! Were the settlers glad!

But to most of the learn-ed people

Howland was a man gone mad.

They said it was only a crazy dream;

It would burst like a bubble ere through;

But the Dreamers, the Plotters and Planners

Are the men who make mad dreams come true!

They pushed the grade where the river ran

Peaceful and quiet and calm,

Gouging the rocky hillsides

And edging a beaver dam;

Moving the riverís gravel banks,

Filling the oozy swale,

Skirting the seething rapids

Where only the moose had a trail.

They built the grade with ox-hauled carts;

The cliffs they blasted away;

With crow bar, shovel and pick they toiled

Working a twelve hour day.

Then up past the Silver Mountain

On through the Iron Dale,

Soon locomotives came clanking

With their long and lonesome wail.

In with the rail move the Lumber Kings

To this land of snow and cold.

Timber was all they thought of

For pine was the Lumber Kingís gold!

God, how they slaughtered the timber,

Billions of feet by the scale,

And with horses and men by the thousands

It was sleigh-hauled out to the rail.

Years passed away with no thought to conserve

Soon, the forests were gone.

The trappers and rockland farmers since

Have struggled to carry on.

Itís a well known fact that nothing lasts,

As was proved by word one day

That the I. B. & O. would run no more

And the rails would be taken away.

March 31st, 1960

I stood by the track in the rain today

As the train came rolling past;

At quarter to four I sighed and looked

On a train that was The Last.

A hundred folk stood in the rain

To see that familiar sight;

And so an era ended

As the Last Train blew tonight."