“Look for me,” says RPC.

An interesting man, who seems to have something to say for himself still.  I find him turning up expectedly and unexpectedly in my research. I first ran across him in 2016 when looking for an event that would qualify the town for a grant to restore Susan Push. The only railway related date for the years in question was the death of Reuben Powers Colton as a result of an injury from a train. Not quite what we needed, but interesting nonetheless since he’d been one of the men who worked to bring the railway to Gananoque.

I didn’t do much research on Colton at that time. The easy to find info on him was about the house, Thornton Cliff, he built in Brockville. Easy to assume (wrongly) he wasn’t a Gananoquian.

Photo of Thornton Cliff
From: Historic Architecture

Researching Thousand Island Railway for a 2017 tour it made sense to explore his connection to the railway further. I found nothing about his connection to TIR but I did find three patents of his.
– Improvement in rolled metallic bars. (Aug 4, 1874, Gananoque)
– Improvement on Buck and Hathaway’s patent cooking stove (Aug 1, 1848)
– Improvement on air tight box stove (Aug 1, 1848)
Again since none of this seemed relevant to the tour, I didn’t research any farther. I did include the story of his accident and death on the tour.

The next time Reuben popped up to say “hi” was when I wanted to double check some facts on a story of a woman who was swept over the dam to her death on one of the wooden bridges that was washed out often in the days before the iron bridge.  It was credited to RP Cotton but I could find no record of an RP Cotton in Gananoque. Seemed likely it was actually Reuben’s story and the source was likely the Gananoque Reporter at the time. Also in Yesterday’s News, Today’s History by Ina G Scott,  I found a chapter,  Letter to the Editor From RP Colton. RP was obviously a literate man. From that I discovered he also knew Joel Stone. I did a little further digging but nothing popped up.

Then, checking maps to find out what I could about the businesses in the area across the street from the Albion Hotel at the time the first load of paying railway freight was delivered, who should pop up but Mr Colton. So now he really had my attention. I dug deep and hard to see what I could find. I’m still working on a revised post. Watch for it.

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