Many archivists and local historians view their environments through an historical filter. We see what is there now, but there also is a strong awareness of what was there before. The view below is of the junction between Main Street and Mill Street in Deseronto as it appears today.

Main Street and Mill Street

Main Street and Mill Street

People with a strong awareness of the town’s past cannot help but look at this view and imagine how it looked with the buildings that were there 100 years ago:

Main and Mill Streets, c.1900

Main and Mill Streets, c.1900

One might think that this is just a quirk of historians and archivists, but recently, through our Flickr account, we became aware that other people have this habit of looking at townscapes with this past-filter in place. In this instance, the point of view is that of a railway enthusiast: one who has spent a lot of time imagining the town with its early twentieth century railways and industrial sites still functioning. Not just imagining, either: this particular enthusiast has re-created the town in this image, in the form of a railway simulation.

In his words:

Deseronto Spur- This is roughly 8 miles long and will be the first part of the route that I will finish. It will be modeled as a dilapidated branchline serving several industries in the town of Deseronto. …I have tried to make it as accurate as possible… Some of the industries here will include a frozen food cannery, a steel fabricaton plant, an agricultural co-op, team track, and a lumber yard.

This information has been taken from a publicly-available web forum, which is how we became aware of this work, as the author, Jason Sills, has used images from the Deseronto Archives Flickr account to assist him in his simulation. He has created this simulated railway with tremendous attention to detail and has shared many screenshots of the line on the forum. We don’t have a contact email for him, so if you are reading this, Jason, please get in touch and let us know whether you object to us sharing your work!  In the hope that Jason won’t mind us sharing his pictures here, we are using the image below to demonstrate what he has been doing:


This picture, showing a train heading east, imagines that the Bay of Quinte Railway line is still in existence on the south side of Main Street in Deseronto, with the present-day Centennial Park in the background, next to the waterfront. The Archives has a photograph of a steam locomotive heading west along the same stretch of track in the days when the Bay of Quinte Railway was still running:

Steam locomotive heading west

Steam locomotive heading west

Jason has shared a large number of screenshots on the Train-Sim forum and it is a really intriguing mixture of imagination, creativity and history. Particularly since Jason is 15 years old and having to cope with a fair amount of school work as well as this project. Thanks to Jason for sharing his simulation and for acknowledging the Archives as a source of useful information!

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