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CN’s Narrow-gauge ‘Caribou’ - 50 Years Gone!

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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

GMD NF210

Steam Generator

Storage Mail (wood boxcar)

Baggage/Express

Diner (as lounge)

Coach (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)

Coach (Corner Brook set-out/pick-up)

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’ six 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.

 

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Although the ‘Caribou’ was gone…. you could still ride narrow-gauge mixed trains on several routes on the island for almost another 20 years until 1988 when the railway was abandoned.

 

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At lot of the narrow-gauge passenger equipment found its way into work train and company service.

 

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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 a bit of a play on paint scheme here: Locomotive #593 would never have hauled cars painted in the CN 1960’s scheme as steam was gone by then. (nearby….the divided Trans Canada Highway through the Humber River Gorge is on the old abandoned CNR right-of-way)

 

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A Sleeping Car in Newfoundland was an 8&1 (8 Sections – 1 Drawing Room) whereas on the mainland a Standard Sleeper  was a 12&1.

 

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And you can still cross the Island by bus. (CN sold the Roadcruiser service to DRL in '96) 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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2 hours ago, Shaun said:

I never knew that the crossing is 150Km's. Sometimes we forget how big our country really is. 

And that's the 'short' crossing. There's 2 ferries each way, daily year 'round. Takes about 6 or 7 hours.

During the summer there is also a crossing 3 times per week between North Sydney and Argentia NL: 540 km and takes about 15 hrs.

https://www.marineatlantic.ca/en/terminals-fleet/Ferry-Terminals/ 

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