Day 313 of 365 – Traverston Ghost Town

What do I do when I’m away from home, the sun is setting, it’s cold and rainy, your booked solid until 8:00pm and your a real estate agent that is blogging about the community he lives in but is 20 minutes north of Dufferin County?  That was the burning question I had yesterday…..

While I was on my way to my next appointment with my clients I thought that I would show them a Ghost town that is located 5 minutes away from the property.  That was my solution!

To get there drive North of Dundalk on Hwy 10 to Markdale (that’s where the Chapman’s Ice Cream is made) and turn left at the lights, take Grey Road 12 approximately 8 km until you come to Traverston Road where you turn left. Follow the gravel road until you round a bend and descend into a gorge cut by the Rocky Saugeen River. Pass over an old iron bridge and note the imposing and beautifully restored three-storey mill on your right.  Find somewhere to park and enjoy 🙂
There is an area known as “Queen’s Bush” in Grey County that was opened up to settlement about 1850, Traverston was one of a number of settlements that had their beginning along the swift waters of the Rocky Saugeen River.

The town was originally named Waverly and had its start in 1856 with a saw and gristmill. In 1865, the then owners of the mills sold their interest to a John Travers who renamed the town to bear his own name which it does to this day. Eventually the railroads came to the area but bypassed the town. As happened so often in the past, new towns were established at the railside which usually meant the death knell for towns like Traverston. But the town still lives, a combination of the old and the new in the form of country homes.

Milton Schofield and Thomas Collier, a pair of land surveyors, developed the first plans for Traverston back in 1856. The ambitious twosome envisioned a community that included a sawmill, grist mill and several factories. They named their budding metropolis Waverly and within a short period of time the two mills were in operation.

No one quite seems to know what happened after that, but suffice to say the factories never materialized. Schofield and Collier eventually decided to leave the rocky hills in search of greener pastures and in 1865 sold the entire operation to John Travers, a local miller.

Following a wave a new immigrants, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, the village prospered for awhile. In 1870, Robert McGahey opened up a post office. The village also added the requisite blacksmith and general store. In 1872, Travers took over the fledgling post office and used the opportunity to rename the village after himself.

The mills continued operating throughout the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th century. In the early part of the 1880s, C.F. Cliffe & son operated a woollen mill. The flour and saw mills went through a number of different owners including Francis Cole, John Bliss, Gill Cronk, Norman Hall and James Ross. Isaac Elder was the village smithy until about 1898, followed by James Hastie.

Situated along the Rocky Saugeen River, the community enjoyed an ample source of water power but in the age of the railways that no longer mattered. Without access to rail transportation, Traverston was doomed. By 1914, the post office had closed and Traverston was finished. The old mill has since been restored and is presently being used as living quarters. A few other houses also remain occupied.

Categories: Things To See And Do

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