Chapter Four: A Steep Grade
Jack Pine Hill, along with the rest of the escarpment, caused a great deal of frustration to early developers. The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario (T&NO) Railway Commission planned to put down tracks connecting North Bay with Ontario's resource-rich hinterland. By 1932, trains would run as far as James Bay (Williamson, 1963: 3), but in the early 1900s, the Commission's major concern was simply how to get out of town.
The problem was the hill.
Choosing a route out of North Bay was no simple task: the escarpment that hugs the city makes it impossible to build a straight line northward. The T&NO sent out surveyors to establish the available options, and the surveyors reported back with just two: either divert the tracks eastward around the head of Trout Lake and up the valley of the North River, or divert the tracks westward around Thibeault Hill and up the valley of Duchesnay Creek (T&NO, 1903: 7; Trussler: “Reflections: More tales...”). After weighing the evidence and soliciting advice from experts in the field, the Commission chose the eastern route. When the trains first began to run, everything seemed fine. Yet just as the fledgling railroad was starting to gather steam, another complication arose. (Kooistra, A History of the North Bay Ski Hill page 12)