Macdiarmid Tunnel-Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel
Macdiarmid Station Macdiarmid Tunnel Postagoni River Bridge
The Macdiarmid Tunnel, also known as Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel, is located just south of the communities of Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishnabek at Milepost 37.1/86.8.
It is one of the largest tunnels in eastern Canada at 1058 feet long. The two portals and portions of the southern end are encased with concrete, which was done in 1982-1983. The unfinished appearance suggests more work was intended to be done. At least two separate subcontractors were involved in its construction: Nimmo & Flatt and Chambers, McColman & Harrison.
During the early stages of construction of the tunnel, a tragic accident occurred. On January 16, 1912, workers were drilling into the rock to place more explosives for the next round of blasting. One group unfortunately hit a previous, misfired charge, which caused it to detonate. The resulting explosion killed two Finnish workers, J. Ranto and O. Henderson, who suffered horrific injuries. Five others were seriously injured. Death records list the names as John Rantz and Oscar Hendrickson, while their real names may have been Juho Kiviranta and Oskari Hendrickson (Suosalo). The survivors were taken to Nipigon for treatment, while the two deceased men were buried near the tunnel.
Just over two weeks later, on January 31, another worker suffered a similar fate. Peter Rice, who possibly hailed from Duluth, MN, was stuck in the head by a falling rock and killed instantly. His body was returned to Duluth for burial.