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Please see our hours of operation, admission rates, and train schedule pages for more information on visiting the train and steam museum.
"A working piece of history is always a show stopper. At Muskoka Heritage Place we are fortunate enough to be able to reap the benefits from the efforts of true visionaries who preserved The Portage Flyer."
The Portage Flyer steam train began its proud legacy as the world's smallest commercial railroad, operating from 1904 until 1959 in Dwight Ontario. Transportation in Muskoka around the early 1900's meant for "some fun with steam" as visitors and supplies chugged along The Muskoka River aboard the Steamship Algonquin from Huntsville through Fairy Lake onto North Portage at the far end of Peninsula Lake. And that is where The Portage Flyer took over. The train served as (as its name suggests) a portage vehicle operating on 1 1/8 mile of narrow gauge track between what is still called North and South Portage. With 170 feet of elevation variance between Fairy Lake and Lake of Bays, dredging was not an option and a lock system would have proven too costly. So the Flyer was responsible for providing transport of everything from mail, cargo, building supplies and tourists to South Portage where the steamship Iroquois carried the last leg onto such lavish resorts as The Britannia Inn, The Wa Wa Hotel and the most celebrated Bigwin Inn.
In the 90's the Portage Flyer was purchased from St. Thomas where it operated as The Pinnafore Railway and relocated closer to its origin At Muskoka Heritage Place. Thanks to countless volunteer efforts and generous donations, track was laid and the Rotary Village Station was completed and equipped with a telegraph office. On featured days we're able to allow visitors to create a message to be wired down the line to end of the track at Fairy Lake Station where it would be waiting upon the Flyer's arrival. We operate the Portage Flyer steam train from the beginning of July until the end of August, Tuesday through Saturday and offer 4 runs per day at 12;00, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm along 1 km of track.
We pull the authentic coaches namely, the Algonquin and Iroquois in our shoulder seasons of May, June, September and October by our 1949 diesel locomotive, so as to prolong the steam engine's longevity. Our shoulder season schedules are Tuesday through Friday, one run per day at 1:00 pm and on Saturdays we run at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00.
Whichever locomotive is pulling the authentic coaches expect a return journey that will take about 30 minutes.
|We know full well that rail enthusiasts are a particular lot, so to avoid disappointment we recommend calling ahead to verify operating times and equipment scheduled.|
It's a scenic trip along the Muskoka River onto Fairy Lake Station. The return trip is about 30 minutes. And although not all of that time is spent travelling, this experience is about more than the time on board. We hope that you will enjoy our Rail Museum and take the time to appreciate some of the technical aspects of the railway. At the "end of the line" we feature our Fairy Lake Station (that was the original Purser's Cabin at Norway Point Lake of Bays) and we encourage children of all ages to come and sit in the cab, poke your head in the firebox and have a chat or ask questions of the engineer and fireman. Our Station Master and or Conductor will be happy to answer all of your questions.
|It takes a great deal of skilled manpower, resourcefulness and money to keep a historic antiquated railway in operation but it's all worth it, if you can imagine yourself back in 1904, heading toward South Portage and The Lake of Bays.|
A re-creation of a typical 1920's train station offers a look into the way people got from A to B and back. Early ingenuity and the development of tools and gadgets, served a very specific and important role in the logistics of delivering people, supplies and mail.
The Museum features exhibits and interactive displays focusing on the great legacy of our local steamships and locomotives that linked this area to rest of world and initiated opportunity for growth and expansion prior the the development of roads.