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Diver Finds Sunken Rail Cars, Massive Caves And Cliffs In Underwater Expedition In Fenelon Falls

KAWARTHA LAKES-16-year-old Mark Turezki has been diving with his father for years. They have taken to the waters all across Ontario but he says the Fenelon Falls dive is one he has been wanting to try for years.

“It’s one of the trickier sites,” Turezki told Kawartha 411 News. “I liked this site because I think it’s very unique with unique challenges. There’s a lot of things to take into account, the current, the depths, the way the rivers is carved out, it’s a straight drop down to 70 feet it’s also very dark. That combination isn’t something you would see all the time.”

It’s an eerie sight. Almost fully intact, rail cars submerged deep in the water, covered in silt and rust surrounded by complete darkness. The site is below where there used to be a train bridge over the Fenelon River. Turezki says they found three train cars that were being used for transporting lumber many years ago.

“You can see big huge massive logs they were transporting when they fell off the bridge. One car landed vertically and is still there, another is sitting on the bottom and is more damaged and one is broken up and scattered.”

 

 

Turezki says the water is really cold at those depths and the way the river has carved out the rocks made it very challenging.

“You get these massive 20 meter long rocks cliffs hanging over you as you are diving, a lot of caves, the way the water is carving out there are tunnels, massive caves and overhangs. It’s really cool.”

One of the massive caves found during the dive in Fenelon Falls.

The site is famous within the diving community. Turezki says Fenelon Falls was once a mecca for divers and was known as one of the best places to go to dive 40 years ago.

“I talked to an older diver, Alec Peirce, and he told me he used to work at a dive shop there. Every day 100 or so people would come and try to find the trains, that was the attraction.”

There are a couple of theories as to how the trains ended up in the water. Turezki says he heard that the cars derailed after someone cut the brakes in the 1950s. Some also say it could also be related to the big Fenelon Falls lumber yard fire.

According to the City, In June 1896 the Fenelon Falls Gazette reported a “Terrific Fire at Howrys” which broke out in a small stable near the lumber yard. It quickly spread from one pile of lumber to the next becoming “the largest blaze ever witnessed in Fenelon Falls”.

“To fight the fire, men and boys rushed to the scene and hoses were attached to the force pumps at Howry’s mill and at Sandford’s factory as quickly as possible. The streams of water they threw prevented the fire from backing up towards the buildings, but it soon got out of their reach in the other direction, and leaped from one lumber pile to the next with startling rapidity. Trains from Lindsay and Peterborough brought hoses, a splendid steam fire engine, firemen and many volunteers to try to extinguish the flames. The steamboat Esturion arrived from Bobcaygeon with firemen and a fire engine. The loss, estimated at $240,000, primarily consisted of 12 million feet of pine lumber, 5 million shingles and 3 million laths. W.T. Junkin recalled that while the fire was raging “you could see to read a newspaper at midnight as plainly as in daylight.” In September another fire occurred in the mill building and a year later Howry’s was bankrupt.” says an excerpt on the history of Fenelon Falls on Drifscape.

The dive itself took a lot of preparation as Turezki wanted to photograph what he found. The team included his father Roman and friends Kyle, Tony and Camelia. The first preparatory dive took place in early April 2020 to scout the area. The second was in late April. The group had to take a hiatus after that because the site is in what is considered a shipping channel and you cannot dive there over the summer. Finally, on Saturday, November 20th they took to the icy waters with cameras and lighting in tow.

“If you prepare and go with a good team anything possible. It’s not scary if you are prepared,” explains Turezki “It can be very disorienting with the crazy currents and I got blown off course and had to use my compass to get back.”  

“I don’t know of any other site in Ontario that has derailed train wagons, and the unique way the walls are carved, it’s amazing”

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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