Port Rowan Abandonment Proceedings

One of the interesting things about modelling a steam era prototype branch line is knowing the story of when and why it was abandoned. In the case of Port Rowan, the death knell was rung when the Canadian National Railways system lost the post office contracts to trucking in the mid-1950s.

A 1938 application to abandon the line to Port Rowan. This application was rejected.

The CNR had tried to abandon the line previously – an example is shown above – and the railway’s application had always been rejected. However, without the guaranteed government injection of the postal contract, there was insufficient reason to keep the trains rolling. The line’s last passenger train ran in the autumn of 1957 and then the line was served on an as-needed freight-only basis until the plug was finally pulled in the mid-1960s.

On this day in 2011, I started blogging about my plans to build Port Rowan in 1:64. It’s been quite a journey – with several friendships formed along the way. Thank you to everyone who has followed along.

There were also technical hiccups, resulting in the decision earlier this year to move the Port Rowan blog to a new online home. I removed the blog from my ISP’s servers, where it had lived since 2011, and built this new blog hosted directly by WordPress. Thanks, again, to those of you who have followed me and found Port Rowan here.

The end of the line: Mogul 86 kisses the wheel stops at the end of the main track in Port Rowan.

Now, Port Rowan is about to move to another new home – this time, physically. In a few weeks, my wife and I are moving from southern Ontario to the Prairies – about 3,000 km west. I am packing up everything I can keep from Port Rowan – including the equipment, structures, details, electronics and trees – and chopping up the rest.

I used to think tearing down a layout was an awful thing. It’s not. I have learned many things while building Port Rowan – from what I like and don’t like in a layout, to various techniques – and all of that learning will be applied to the next project. I am pleased, overall, with what I accomplished with Port Rowan. But I also know I can – and will – do better next time.

I am not sure what that “next time” will look like, just yet. I do know that I have a much larger, much nicer space in which to build a layout. But I plan to measure the space properly and then live with it for a bit before I commit to a specific project. I do have ideas – but I’m not ready to share them.

Also, an apology: I likely will not have time to engage in a discussion about the fate of Port Rowan or my plans for the future. Not at this time.

In addition to tearing out the layout, my wife and I have a lot of stuff to sort, pack, throw out, donate, and so on. We have very little time to do it – and the physical distancing requirements imposed on us by this year’s global pandemic are making an already challenging task even more difficult. It’s harder to organize a move, and impossible to have a large crew over to tear out the layout or help with other packing.

I debated even posting this much, now, because I should be packing boxes or swinging a wrecking bar. But I owed you all at least this much.

I will go into a tunnel for a while now, and you won’t hear from me until I emerge into the daylight on the other side. Thanks, friends, for reading and for understanding. Talk to you all down the line…

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

26 thoughts on “Port Rowan Abandonment Proceedings

  1. Trevor, it has been an absolute pleasure to get to know you and see and operate your layout after discovering your blog. I can’t wait to see what your exciting new basement has to offer, and my only regret is that as you noted, thanks to 2020, I can’t come and repay some of the help you’ve been in my layout building as you have to tear yours down solo.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am unable to put into words the feelings that I have upon reading your blog re the end of the line for the Port Rowan. I will miss reading about your experiences and I have learned a lot from what you have accomplished. Best of luck to you and your wife in your new endeavours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am disappointed to hear of the coming change however I am hopeful that when time and the situation allows the railroad will live again. Moving to the Prairies? That should make us closer to being neighbors. Best wishes for your transition. Ken Zieska

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Trevor, it’s been a great ride. Good luck on the new move and hoping to hear about a future layout.
    Also, your final photo of the back of a caboose was very fitting.
    Stay safe, Gord

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, how exciting! I can’t wait to see what’s next. By the way, I know from Toronto, “the Prairies” seems much more specific than “our west,” but I think you’ll find they’re pretty vast. Mind narrowing it down a little for us?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi René: Ahhh – I was vague on purpose. I want to get my feet under me and learn my way around before I start trying to connect with fellow hobbyists in my new home…


  6. When I opened my email and saw the title my heart sank a little knowing how close you where to completing this layout! But glad to know you might have more space. And hopefully some space for a live steam loop or two!

    See you on the other side. Will be waiting patiently.


  7. Hello Trevor,
    Sorry to see you go…
    Future operations at Fillmore will not be the same! We certainly had some good times down at the old roundhouse. You are a very fine railway modeller, operator, and friend. I wish you all the very best for your new home and new life out West.
    Take Care

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And so the S-scale Port Rowan Branch joins the likes of many other infamous landmark model railroads that have come and gone over the years. At least this time I got to be aware of its status and journey, as opposed to when I learned about Allen McClelland’s original V&O and Tony Koester’s AM.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sad to read of your “abandonment”, Trevor. But I’ve great hopes for what your future model rail endeavours hold. Please be sure to keep us posted.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Never posted before but I have followed your blog for years. Sad to hear about the layout’s end but also excited to see what you do in the future. As an O scale modeler, Im wondering if you will consider constructing a proto48 layout because you now have more space…as a long time reader I know you have the equipment! Best regards, Tim B.


  11. I know what a move is like and tearing down a near complete layout, approaching two years into the new construct. The regret of loss of the old is tempered by the anticipation of the new, making all new mistakes this time. Good luck in the new digs.


  12. Trevor –

    As many have already stated, though it bears repeating, it has been both a pleasure and honor to have met you and to be considered a friend. Through the blog, the dinner meetings, phone calls, and the occasional ‘bump-into’ in and about the city it has been a rewarding experience.

    I truly believe the local fraternity of those who love flanged things that ride on rails will be the lesser with you gone, but I am confident that you will have an equal if not greater impact in your new home city (or town).

    Good luck, and good health in your new home.


    PS: Looking forward to what the Wizard of Port Rowan has planned for the new layout.


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