Algoma Central Railway Reporting mark: ACR
The Algoma Central Railway (ACR) is a regional railway in northeast Ontario, started in 1899 by Francis Clergue. Clergue, a high-flying industrialist, needed a railway to transport iron ore from the Helen Mine near Wawa to his mills in Sault Ste. Marie. In 1901 he obtained a charter belonging to the Ontario, Hudson Bay and Western Railway, and began construction. That was followed by a name change to the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway.
After Clergue's empire collapsed in 1903, the line lay dormant for several years. Construction resumed in 1909 and ended in 1914. At its completion, the line provided service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst with a branch line to Michipicoten.
Despite its shaky beginnings, the line managed to stay afloat. There were few roads in the area and the railway offered the most reliable means of transportation. In 1952 the ACR was the first railway in Canada to be fully converted from steam to diesel.
The opening of the Trans Canada Highway in 1961 ended the dominance of the ACR. By then its other divisions, which included marine shipping, trucking, forestry and real estate, had grown far more profitable than the railway. The ACR's biggest strength lay in its marine division, which began operating around 1900. Although the lumber and mining industries were still active, the railway began to focus more on passenger excursions through the scenic Canadian Shield. In 1965 "Hudson Bay" was finally removed from the railway's name.
In a move to concentrate on its highly profitable and diversified marine division, the Algoma Central Corporation sold the railway to the Wisconsin Central Railroad in 1995. Wisconsin Central was in turn purchased by CN Rail (CN) in 2001. The ACR's freight operations were taken over by CN.
Now back in Canadian hands, CN continues to operate the ACR as a separate entity focusing year round on tourist excursions in northern Ontario. Passenger rail service is still available from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst. Packages and booking information can be found on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train website.