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O Newfoundland (NG) - Wherefore Art Thou?

January 10, 2020 04:13PM avatar
I did a search of the NGDF and could find almost no mention of the Newfoundland Narrow Gauge, let alone a thread. Newfoundland is pretty remote, but by the time we visited in 1982 it had become the most extensive narrow gauge operation in North America.

By that year of course the Rio Grande empire had shrunk to just the Silverton and C&TS, and the White Pass still had its 110 miles. Canada’s tenth province of Newfoundland however still sported a 547 mile mainline from the capital of St. John’s in the east, to Port-aux-Basques in the west. On top of that were three branch lines totalling another 150-ish miles – all of the “Colonial” 3’6” narrow gauge, so very visually similar to 3 foot.

I’m going on a wee road trip for a week or so (gotta get out and explore the world), and will be away from the photos on my computer. So here’s a sample of what I hope to post when I get home. I hope you’ll enjoy them.


Our reason for going was to see the four NARROW GAUGE MIXED TRAINS that still ran in 1982. This is the thrice weekly Argentia mixed – enlarged to three cars on that day because it met the weekly ferry from the mainland. For all the equipment, there were no passengers and not even any freight cars, and it was killing time at the mainline junction on account of being way ahead of schedule.

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The first construction on the island was by the government, but operations were soon taken over by the Reid-Newfoundland Co, which ran the railway until the mid-1920s. Most of the earliest power was from Baldwin, and Tenwheeler 120 sure had a lot of Tweetsie in her.

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Between 1926 and 1949 the government again took over the operation, and renamed it just the Newfoundland Railway. It played a huge part in WWII, with Newfoundland hosting both American/British naval and airforce bases. Canadian National Railways took over the operation in 1949. If you liked the Rio Grande's “San Juan” and Shavano”, you would have loved Newfoundland’s “The Caribou”, which was the main trans-island passenger train. It was nicknamed the “Newfie Bullet” because it was so slow, but it was the “San Juan” on steroids. It not only had head end cars, coaches and rear end observation platform cars, but also narrow gauge sleepers and full diners. And it lasted until 1969! - diesel hauled by then of course. Here’s the Sleeper-Observation car “Lewisporte” being delivered from National Steel Car in Hamilton, Ontario.

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The Andrew Merrilees Collection in Ottawa has hundreds and hundreds of Newfoundland steam era shots, but don’t worry I won’t bore you with them all. There’s not just the locomotives but also equipment like Rotary #2 (looks very Rio Grande-ish to my eye), and British Sentinel Steam Cars in St. John’s commuter service that the Rio Grande Southern would have been proud of.

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I’d be interested to know if any other folks here on the Forum ever visited Newfoundland. I know a few intrepid Americans did, and I’d love to see your photos in due course as well.

Cheers for now,
Ralph



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/2020 03:25AM by tgbcvr.
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tgbcvr January 10, 2020 04:13PM

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Chris Walker January 10, 2020 04:28PM

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tgbcvr January 10, 2020 05:14PM

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dave2-8-0 January 10, 2020 05:18PM

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theoriginaltwofoot January 10, 2020 06:32PM

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tgbcvr January 10, 2020 07:14PM

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TonyK375 January 13, 2020 12:27AM

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tgbcvr January 13, 2020 06:33AM

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