Narrow-gauge ‘Caribou’ - 50 Years Gone!

Discussion in 'Freight, International and Other Rail' started by NS VIA Fan, Jul 15, 2019.

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  1. Jul 15, 2019 #1

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    Conductor

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    It’s been 50 years since CN’s 3’-6” gauge ‘Caribou’ completed its last run across the Island of Newfoundland between Port-aux-Basques (Port oh Bask) and St. John’s overnight on July 2-3 1969. This was North America’s last full-service narrow-gauge passenger train with coaches, sleepers, diner and lounge. A sample consist from the ‘60s:

    GMD NF210
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    GMD NF210
    Steam Generator
    Mail (wooden boxcar)
    Mail (wooden boxcar)
    Baggage/Express
    Coach (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)
    Coach (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)
    Diner (as lounge)
    Coach
    Coach
    Coach
    Diner
    Sleeper (as Crew Dorm)
    Sleeper
    Sleeper
    Sleeper
    Sleeper
    Sleeper (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)
    Sleeper (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)

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    CN had introduced a new fleet of ‘Roadcruisers’ several months earlier and passengers soon abandoned the ‘Caribou’ for the frequent and faster bus service that now covered the 900 km run in 14 hours vs the 22 hours the train took. Here’s the CN Timetable issued in April ’69 showing the combined train and bus service (the Caribou was gone in 2 months!)

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  2. Jul 15, 2019 #2

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

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    After the Caribou was discontinued……at lot of the narrow-gauge passenger equipment found its way into work train and company service.

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  3. Jul 15, 2019 #3

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    Conductor

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    At Corner Brook…..the Railway Society of Newfoundland has a nice display of ‘Caribou’ equipment on a short section of remaining narrow-gauge track……and there's been a bit of a play on paint schemes here: Locomotive #593 would never have hauled cars painted in that CN 1960’s scheme as steam was gone by the mid ‘50s.

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    A Sleeping Car in Newfoundland had 8 Sections & 1 Drawing Room….whereas on the mainland a Standard Sleeper had 12 Sections & 1 Drawing Room

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  4. Jul 15, 2019 #4

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

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    Just outside of Corner Brook…..the divided Trans Canada Highway is on a portion of the abandoned CN right-of-way through the Humber River Gorge to Deer Lake. Beyond that…..after the Caribou was discontinued in 1969 CN still ran a ‘Mixed Train’ (passenger and freight) between the division points of Corner Brook and Bishops Falls to reach the isolated ‘Topsails’.....a high plateau in the central part of the province between Deer Lake, Howley and Badger located away from the highway. This ‘Mixed’ lasted nearly another 20 years until the railway was completely abandoned in 1988. The old rail-bed over the ‘Topsails’ today is now part of the ‘Newfoundland T’Railway’ ……giving access to ATVs, Bikes and Hikers.

    https://goo.gl/maps/sq9ucVJ7PCu6rzyE7

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    On an ATV trip several years ago….we’re stopped along the remains of the old Millertown Jct. station platform.

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  5. Jul 15, 2019 #5

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

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    And you can still cross the Island by bus. (CN sold the ‘Roadcruiser’ service to DRL in 1996) At Port-aux-Basques the bus loads along the platform area where the ‘Caribou’ once departed from….. and still connects with the Marine Atlantic (former CN) ferry on the 150 km crossing over to Nova Scotia.

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  6. Jul 15, 2019 #6

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

    NS VIA Fan

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    Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949 when they joined Confederation. CN assumed operation of the railway renaming the cross-island trains the ‘Caribou’ Previously they were the ‘Overland Limited’ (affectionally known as the ‘Newfie Bullet’ for its speed (or lack off!) and the ’Foreign Express’ (Canada was a foreign country) connecting with the original “Caribou’…..a ferry on the run over to North Sydney, NS. It was sunk by a German U-Boat just off the Nova Scotia coast in 1942. There’s a model of it today in the ferry terminal. The second ‘Caribou’ ferry served on the run from 1986 to 2010.

    http://www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca...unk-during-battle-of-the-st-lawrence/jvfikcrr

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  7. Jul 15, 2019 #7

    jiml

    j

    jiml

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    Thanks for the sentimental refresher on the Newfie Bullet. I regret never trying it out, and have still yet to make it to Newfoundland proper.
     
  8. Jul 15, 2019 #8

    bretton88

    b

    bretton88

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    My Grandpa took the Newfie Bullet. He had an extremely enjoyable time, but it sure was slow.
     

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