'This is so cool!': Brockville Railway Tunnel opens for first time in 2020
BROCKVILLE -- It may only be a short season, but a popular Brockville tourist attraction is once again open to the public.
The Brockville Railway Tunnel, Canada's first railway tunnel, would have normally opened in the spring, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic Friday is the first time it's been accessible to the public this year.
"We’re thrilled today to return this for a shortened season. We’re hoping that this is an indication that one day we will get back to normal," said an excited Mayor Jason Baker while standing at the Blockhouse entrance.
"We worked with the health experts to make sure we could get this opened safely. At one point we were worried about making the tunnel one way traffic and because of its length that would be really not feasible."
One of the first visitors through was Devin Johnston and his son from Oxford Mills.
"When I saw it online last night that they were opening today, I was like, time to go! It was great! The light show was awesome, music is great, Warren really liked it. We went up and down,” Johnston said.
The city is asking visitors to follow all of the COVID-19 guidelines while in the tunnel and masks are mandatory.
Signs are posted at each entrance encouraging physical distancing and good behaviour.
"If you can space out anywhere it’s in this tunnel. It’s that long of place so we’re hoping people come down safely enjoy it," Baker said.
Two couples from Englehart, in northern Ontario, also toured the tunnel on Friday, travelling to Brockville by motorcycle.
"This is a beautiful city. The whole waterfront area is really nice. it was nice coming down seeing it,” the group said.
"The tunnel is cool, it's lovely in this hot weather. All the different lights, it's pretty neat."
A couple of sisters from Toronto were also walking through for the first time.
"It’s amazing! I read about it in the news a good few years ago and was very eager at the time and sort of forgot about it,” said Una.
"My sister just reminded me about it and its just incredible. The music, the authenticity,” she said while she was interrupted by a train horn and red lights coming down the tunnel.
"This is so cool!"
The mayor says the opening of the Brockville Railway Tunnel is a sign that Brockville is officially open once gain.
"It’s a lost indicative that Brockville is open for business and I think that's an important statement that we need to get out there. There's a lot of people just within a one kilometre radius of this tunnel that benefit from its visitors and they’ve had their hardest year ever in the tourism industry,” said Baker.
"We’re glad that we got to this point, we just apologize that it took us this long."
No events in the tunnel will be planned this year like other years, but the mayor did hint that the Tunnel of Terror could still happen in the fall.
For now, Baker noted the weather is perfect and encouraged people to come and visit Brockville.
"As the weather heats up this weekend, the tunnel is the coolest to place to be in Brockville and hopefully people will take advantage of it."