For well over a century, the narrow-gauge Newfoundland railway played a vital role in the growth and development of the tiny island in the North Atlantic. From the commencement of construction in 1881 to the shutdown in 1988, it was a most colourful line, to say the least. It took over 547 miles to cross a 300-mile-wide island, which had curves sharper and grades steeper than the Rocky Mountains. There were only 131 miles of straight track, a bridge for every four miles, and a human wind-gauge to safely let trains pass. In Newfoundland, the railway wasn’t simply a means of transportation—it was a way of life.
Take an all-colour photographic journey from the capital city of St. John’s to the ferry connection at Port aux Basques on the longest narrow-gauge railway in North America. Along the way you will ride in both steam- and diesel-hauled Caribou passenger trains, follow boxy G-8 locomotives skirting the shoreline as they lead little mixed trains to the branch lines, and see lengthy multiple diesel freights with boxcars and containers crossing the infamous Gaff Topsails. Watch as the trains navigate the rugged interior and pass through Newfoundland communities with some of the most interesting place names—such as Come by Chance, Gambo, and Goobies—and witness the incredible beauty that this province has to offer.
These photographs, dating as far back as 1951 and on through to 1988, were taken by some of North America’s most renowned railway photographers, such as James A. Brown, John Freyseng, Bill Linley, Phil Mason, Robert J. Sandusky, Stan J. Smaill, and Rich Taylor. Their work clearly illustrates the colourful rolling stock and engine paint schemes against the pristine scenery one encounters along the way. This trip back in time is sure to delight both those who remember when the railway was king as well as those discovering it for the first time.
"Ken Pieroway's collection of colour images of the Canadian National and Newfoundland Railway is unsurpassed. His dedication to preserving these images is a labour of love and a means to keep the fabled railway alive and well in the hearts of people everywhere who love and miss the Newfoundland Railway." — Mike Shufelt, Rail Photographer