Saturday, March 31, 2007

March 31 was the last day of the Newfoundland Railway

This weekend is the 58th anniversary of the last run of the Newfoundland Railway. Newfoundland became the 10th province of Canada at midnight on March 31, 1949, and at that time the Newfoundland Railway ceased to exist. By April 1, the trains running through Riverhead and Gaff Topsails were part of the Canadian National Railway.

The passing of the Newfoundland Railway may have been in name only, but there are few people who don't remember the Railway with pride and sadness. The Railway was a major achievement for a small nation such as ours, and it was part of our national identity for decades.

To remember this celebrated part of our heritage, Rattling Books is holding a Wake Sale. From now until midnight on Monday, April 2, 2007, you can save 40% on the audio edition of Robin McGrath's captivating novel Donovan's Station.

Set in Newfoundland throughout the early twentieth century, Donovan's Station perfectly recreates the time when the Newfoundland Railway was at its height.

The sound of the train is so soothing in the evenings. I never guessed when they first put the tracks through that I could feel that way about it. Mr. Reid used to say that before the railway came, travel meant coaxing a jaded nag over the bogs and barrens or tossing about in a fog in a stinking jackboat, with as good a chance of drowning as of reaching your destination. I suppose a great many people agreed with him, which is why they turned out in such numbers for that first run. I know that for the fishermen, who had no work betwen September and Christmas, the work on the railbed was very welcome.
- Donovan's Station
Construction began on the Newfoundland Railway in 1881, and the line was completed in 1894. The longest narrow-guage line in North America, the Newfoundland Railway carried passengers across the Island for 75 years. Passenger service was abandoned in 1968, replaced by a bus service, but many people still recall the slow, comfortable train ride with fondness. Folded into Canadian National Railway with Confederation on March 31, 1949, the Railway continued to carry freight until 1988, when the line was abandoned completely, and the last train crossed the island, taking up the tracks as it went.

Learn more about the Newfoundland Railway.