In April of 1871 a group of businessmen in the Kingston area formed and incorporated the Kingston & Pembroke Railway (K&PR- also called the Kick and Push Railway). The businessmen's plan was to allow Kingston to take advantage of natural resources available further north. The plan was for the railway to run from Kingston to the Ottawa Valley at a location near Pembroke. Plans also called for the line to branch East into the province of Quebec. Surveying was completed in 1872 and construction on the railway began the same year. It would take thirteen years for the 180-kilometer railway to be completed to Renfrew.
Initial progress on the railway was slow as the landscape was rough & rugged and investor money was running out. By June of 1875 the railway had stretched 29 miles north to Iron Junction. At Godfrey, a small spur led east to an area mine. By 1879 the money had been depleted. A contractor named M. J. O'Brien from Renfrew took over the contract for the remainder of construction. O'Brien had his work cut out for him (no pun intended) with a large and expensive rock cut needing to be made at Calabogie Lake. O'Brien was almost broke by this time but with a loan from a Kingston bank, was able to complete the contract which would make him a millionaire.
As the KP&R was snaking its way northwards, the mining and lumber companies were setting up camps to begin extracting natural resources. The KP&R made it more efficient to bring supplies to these camps as well as exportation of the raw materials. One such small mining town along the KP&R came to be known as Robertsville. Robertsville was situated approximately 10 km south of the Wilbur iron ore mine.
Robertsville was the site of two large ore bodies. The first located at the Mississippi Mine and measured approx. 700 feet long by 50 feet wide (Source: MNDM). The second ore body was located 900 feet northwest.
Around 1880, a spur was built which connected the Mississippi Mine (Robertsville Mine) to the KP&R. The Mississippi Mining Company began mining operations in 1882 and were able to extract approx. 13,743 tons of ore for shipment to the US market.
The mining company built a town site for the workers and their families. The town site consisted of 30 duplex homes, a carpenter shop, public school, blacksmith, general store (operated by J.W. Lewis), and boarding house for single workers. J. Lewis was the local shoemaker while T. Hughes and J. Lake were wood dealers. A post office offering daily delivery was available inside the general store.
The American iron ore market suffered a depression beginning in 1883, which led to both mines closing by 1885. The store closed the same year, as did the post office.
The site did see some renewed mining activity in 1900 when the Poe Mining Company attempted to extract more ore from the area. They succeeded in removing a little over 6000 tons of ore before closing.
The CPR took over the Kingston & Pembroke Railway in 1913. The rails were lifted during the 1970's and the town of Robertsville became a ghost town.
Today the KP&R corridor remains a contentious issue. Citizens have taken to dumping garbage along it; property owners desire it to be cleaned up; while others would like to see a nature trail made of the former railway line.
The Robertsville cemetery is located at 1314A Robertsville Rd in Frontenac County. Take 509 north from Clarendon Station and turn east onto the Robertsville Road.
For other photos of Robertsville and ghost towns north of here along the old railway line check out the section under "Kick and Push Trail".