Monday, September 09, 2013

A bath on Bathurst

This is Bathurst Street in Toronto. You'll find Honest Ed's there. A street car line. Tens of thousands of cars in traffic.

But, as it turns out, this is also Bathurst Street...

Bathurst Street goes for miles and miles northward from Toronto. Eventually it becomes just another little two-lane concession road, but carries the name all the way north to Holland Marsh, at least. Recently the Toronto Star had an article about a short little chunk of the road that was closed to vehicular traffic in the 1990s (edit: specifically, April 27, 1995), and the prospect for it to be reopened, though probably by some sort of close new course. In July, P-Doug and I went out there to record the current closed course, and I went back there again yesterday to pick up the things we didn't get the first time.

When we were out there in July, it was a rainy weekend after a rainy week. So far as I know, this part of Bathurst was never paved. It's now just rutted mud, and was extremely challenging, even treacherous, when we were there. We nearly got to the north extreme where the road resumes again, but we were faced with a downward slope that we thought better of, and consigned that to another day (as it turns out, yesterday). Almost as soon as we turned back, it began to rain lightly. Then harder. Then harder. Finally it was coming down about as hard as I can ever remember being outdoors in. We were absolutely drenched by the time we got back to the car, and even then, we waited out the downpour for most of another half an hour before heading home. We were so soaked that I was astonished later on when our watches, cameras, and cell phones all still worked.

I'd gone out there expecting only the interesting closed road itself. What an unexpected delight it was to be treated to a bonus little bridge! It's like buying a little box of silver coins and finding a gold coin at the bottom. This bridge was absolutely ruined by its service over the years (my guess is it dates to the 1920s). Almost all of its railings had been knocked off, and its sides were guarded by concrete barriers lugged down and left there to do ad hoc work. It's little wonder they closed the road. Far more astonishing it was open to automobile traffic late enough that even I could have driven it in the years immediately after I got my license... though given how incredibly poor it's gotten in just the 20 years or so it's been closed, I have a hard time imagining anyone actually driving this thing by the 1990s in reality.

As I say, I was back there yesterday, mostly to shoot the view at the north end that we didn't quite get to last time, but also to get a better look at the bridge itself, this time from down in the creek bed.

It'll be interesting if they do put a new course through and reconnect Bathurst Street to itself. I'd like to see that. And photograph it happening. "Fix, if you must, this road that's dead, but spare that little bridge," he said. :)

Above is as far as we got in July; this is where we turned back. You can just make out the telephone poles of the existing, open stretch of Bathurst Street beyond the hill. That's where I made my way up from yesterday...


1 comment:

jim said...

That is one seriously rough road. It looks like it's been abandoned since 1920!