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History of Coal Town Trail

The original rail bed was built in the late 1890’s and owned by several mining companies. These mining companies were taken over by the Dominion Coal & Steel Company and the Sydney & amp; Louisbourg Railway was created in 1910 and ran until 1968 when it was taken over by DEVCO. During the 1970’s the railway was used to haul coal to the Seaboard Power Plant in Glace Bay and also for a tourist train running from Glace Bay to Port Morien. With the closing of the mines in Glace Bay, the rail way was shut down and the tracks removed from Glace Bay to Louisbourg. DEVCO was rolled into another crown corporation (Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation) in 2009 and then
transferred to Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) in 2014. The real estate portion was then transferred to Public Works Canada who undertook the remediation of all the former mine sites including the rail bed. The rail bed received significant upgrades including ditching, culvert replacement and resurfacing. 


In 2017 Public Works Canada contacted the different trail user groups and CBRM Active Transportation Group to put together an advisory committee to come up with a plan which would be suitable for all present and future trail users. This group was made
up of the 3 CBRM councillors whose areas were within where the rail bed existed, CBRM Active Transportation, VELO Cape Breton, Cape Breton Road Runners, the Walking/Hiking Group, Marconi Trailblazers ATV Group and Bay-It-Forward (Glace Bay Downtown Development Group). From these stakeholder meetings, in April of 2021 the rail bed was transferred over to CBRM by PWC along with a 10 year maintenance
budget. While the municipality was considered acquiring the rail bed and associated right of way, it partnered with Bicycle Nova Scotia (BNS) to engage an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study to look at turning it into a multiuse trail. The study was completed in February 2019 by EXP Engineering from Sydney. In April 2021 the Coal Town Trail Society was formed and registered as a non-profit society with the Nova
Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks and in August 2021 the Society negotiated a stewardship agreement to manage the former rail bed from Gardiner Hwy (Near Centreville Rd.) to Tower Rd. in Glace Bay – 13.5 kilometres. The Coal Town Trail Society is made up of representative from VELO Cape Breton (Cyclist Group), Cape Breton Road Runners (Running Group), Cape Breton Island Hoppers Volkssport Club (Walking/Hiking Group), Marconi Trailblazers ATV Club (OHV Group) and the Bay-It-Forward (Downtown Development Group).

The trail had its official opening in June of 2022 and continues to be a popular multi-use trail for all to enjoy. A true living legacy to the miners and steelworkers of Cape Breton Island.


Rob Romard


Beaton Institute


Max Resdefault

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