Steps (and railcars) Into The Past

Hamilton Incline Railway Tracks 

The Incline Railway Lines

(yep...there were more than one)

My Aunt Elaine (not actually my aunt, but that's what we've always called her) who grew up around Cainsville on a farm told stories of her father taking his horse and cart down the Hamilton mountain by cable car to take his produce to the Farmers' Market.  My parents had heard the story many times but never really understood what she was talking about.  So when I told them that we went for a walk up the stairs where the cable car used to be to the top of the escarpment they had a good laugh - realizing that Elaine wasn't as crazy as they thought.

In fact, there were two incline railways, which is actually what they were called (not cable cars).  One at James Street and another at Wentworth (West and East respectively).  They were unusual looking contraptions with a large level passenger area supported by an angled structure that rested on the rail car.

Both incline railways were closed in the 1930s and this past weekend the stairs we climbed take you from the South end of Wentworth, to the top of the escarpment where the East Incline Railway used to travel.

A set of Stairs up the Mountain?

Yep, actually there are several sets (located at Chedoke, Dundurn, James, Wentworth and Kennilworth) but the Wentworth Steps are the tallest.

The stairs are super easy to get to by bike  or simply by walking to the South end of Wentworth.  At that point you are near the beginning of the Escarpment rail trail and there is also access to the Bruce Trail.

There's even a sobi station conveniently located at the foot of the stairs.

From the bottom you start climbing and the temptation is definitely to start counting your steps so you can brag later.  Thankfully however someone took the time to mark the steps with numbers which lets you concentrate on your footing and occasionally to turn around and admire the view which just gets better and better.

About two thirds of the way up you get a small break as you wait for traffic so you can cross the Sherman Access and then you're in the home stretch.

By the time you reach the top you will have climbed 500 steps and as they can feel the burn.

Once you've reached the top, you are rewarded with a pretty spectacular view of the city, and if you are feeling energetic, you can continue your trek along the top of the escarpment trail.


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