Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Avondale Railway Museum

Our family had a vacation on Newfoundland earlier this month, and I did my best to visit as many static railway displays as I could. I say "static" because of course there are no operating railways on the Rock.

One static display we stopped at was the Avondale Railway Museum. This museum consists of a historic railway station building and five pieces of rolling stock, as well as a miniature train.

We visited the museum on July 8th. After navigating the construction on highway 63 near the Eastbound International Dragway, we arrived at Station Street and the museum.

The station itself was originally built as a telegraph repeater station in either 1870 or 1880. It became a railway station in 1900 and continued in that capacity until it closed in 1984 with the end of rail service on the Avondale Branch. It is the oldest surviving railway station in Newfoundland.

The Avondale, NL railway station
The grounds are well-kept and there were workers in the station, working on rebuilding the interior. I saw new laminate flooring being installed in the waiting room and there was work going on upstairs as well. One of the workers allowed me to look around a bit inside.
Looking out the bay window
It sure looks nice inside!
Inside the Avondale railway station
Avondale was listed as mile 36.3 on the CN main line from St. John's. The nearby Brigus Junction at mile 41.6 led to the Carbonear branch. Since Terra Transport/CN closed almost all of its railway stations in early 1984, Avondale was no longer listed in the employee timetables, as you can see in the November 29, 1987 employee timetable.

It seems like almost every railway display in Newfoundland has a snowplow.
CN 3465 leading the plow/passenger train
In Avondale CN 3465 (built in 1953) leads the way.

The full-size train sits on the siding and the main line exists for about 1.5 km.
Perhaps the longest stretch of track remaining in Newfoundland?
I believe the miniature train is used for runs up and down the "main" but when I was visiting, it was not operational. From the following video it looks like it was shut down for maintenance a few weeks before I arrived.

Behind the snowplow is CN 925, a GMD NF210 locomotive built in 1956. The number is painted over, the windows are plated and the number boards are missing. I am hoping this indicates a refurbishment is pending.
CN 925 at Avondale
Next up is a mail car, #233, in classic Newfoundland Railway red. I'm not sure why it is #233 as the 2014 Canadian Trackside Guide says it was always numbered as 5019.
Mail car #233 at Avondale
Behind that is coach #769 in CNR green and gold. This coach was built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1955 and spent half its career as a work car before the end of the railway.
Coach CN #769 at Avondale
Note milepost 38 with a whistle sign and a flanger warning sign. It seems a little busy. :)

Next to the station at the tail end of the train is Terra Transport/CN caboose #6059, built in 1962.
CN/Terra Transport caboose 6059 in Avondale
Cabooses were used on Newfoundland right up to the end of the railway in 1988.

I like that the museum has painted each car in a different Newfoundland railway style.

It would be fun to ride the Avondale Express!
Engine #595 at Avondale
So that was Avondale. It was a short but sweet visit.

If you'd like to help preserve and restore Newfoundland railway items, Trevor Croft has a GoFundMe page set up to gather funds.

More Newfoundland attractions to come!

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Tom G. said...

Nice write up. This has me thinking that the next time I get up to the Toronto area to visit family that I need to explore what museums are in and around that area. I know there is the South Simcoe Railway up at Tottenham (which I have not visited yet) but I'm not sure what else there is.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Tom, thanks! There's the Toronto Railway Museum in the old John Street roundhouse... the York-Durham about an hour out of Toronto... and the Halton County Radial Railway near Toronto. The Waterloo Central is a bit farther out but not too far.

Tom G. said...

Thanks for the info, Steve. I have been to the TRM at the roundhouse a few times, and it is a very cool place to visit. I'll definitely have to check some of these other museums when I get a chance. Again, thanks!

shnorth123 said...

Hi Steve, the RPO that is numbered 233 is actually a fictional number. This was an RPO built in 1952 for CN Newfoundland as # 1803. When mail cars were discontinued in 1968 it was stored for awhile. It was converted to a Tool Car in the early 70's and was renumbered to 5019. You can see where CN blanked out certain doors and windows during conversion. I'm guessing the Avondale museum wanted to have a car painted in the NFLD Railway red to show what a railcar looked like prior to confederation. I'm not sure if 233 is a fictional number or if it was actually carried by an NR RPO.

Canadian Train Geek said...

hey shnorth123 thanks for the details. I think it's good that they have a NFLD Railway red car. I don't think any of the original NFLD railway cars survived so I guess they made do with this RPO.

shnorth123 said...

The only other RPO on the island is 1805 in St. John's on Water Street next to the Railway Museum. It was built for CN in 1952. There was one more at Pippy Park that I believe dated from Pre-Confederation and was built in the late 30's or 40's. It was scrapped about 10 years ago. Several of the passenger cars on the island actually date from Pre-Confederation, however some are in CN livery's or the NFLD Railway Pullman green from the mid 1930's. The coach car at the Water Street display was built in 1949 as NFLD Railway coach 46. It only spent a brief period in NR ownership as CN took over the system a short while later, Coach 6 was renumbered to CN 763 in 1956. Bowering Park in St. john's used to have a display but the loco 906 and RPO 1805 were sent to Water Street about 10 years ago and the rest of the equipment was scrapped. The display actually had the RPO and a baggage car professionally painted in the NFLD Railway red with the NR wafer logo. CN painted these 2 cars back in 1981 for use on the CN/TerraTransport railway centennial train. The cars carried displays and artifacts on the Newfoundland railway. However CN kept the CN numbers on these two cars and they had Helvetica font instead of Roman font NR used.