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Canadian Railroads > NB Southern's St. Stephen Job

Date: 02/22/21 10:27
NB Southern's St. Stephen Job
Author: cn6218

The last former CP branchline in New Brunswick is the St. Stephen Sub, running from McAdam to St. Stephen, the border town opposite Calais, ME.  It's a bit of a miracle that it wasn't abandoned like all the others up and down the Saint John River, but a connection across the St. Croix River to a pulp mill in Woodland, ME probably was the reason for it surviving.  In fact, for a few years after NBSR took over from Canadian Atlantic (CP's eastern business unit), the mill was shut down, and the local only operated one day a week to serve the Canadian customers, which included a plywood mill and Gagnon's Chocolates.  To their credit, JD Irving (NB Southern's parent company) kept the line maintained until business picked up again.  These days, there is usually a train 5 days a week.

Eight years ago today, I was at Watt Jct. to see Extra 9802 South haul past the former junction with the St. Andrews Sub, which once went another 27.5 miles south to the seaside resort town of the same name.  A short spur is all that remains, for storing MoW equipment.

Farther south at Honeydale, the train crossed NB Rt. 755, one of the few places on the 33 mile trip that isn't boxed in by trees.  The two engines are former SP GP35s, rebuilt as GP38-3s, with non-turbocharged prime movers.  9802 retains all 3 radiator fans, while 2610 has had the smaller middle one removed.  Both only have 9 handrail stanchions behind the cab, unlike the 10 on an as-built GP38 or 40.

St. Stephen once had a small yard and passenger station (now a restaurant), but now there is just a single switch at Milltown Jct. and a tail track long enough to hold about 20 cars, a van and the power.  At the switch the train reverses, and shoves up the Milltown Spur towards the border, which is what they're doing in the last photo.  In the background is a Kent Building Supplies store, another branch of the JD Irving empire, and the ultimate destination of much of the lumber hauled by NB Southern trains.


Note:  In New Brunswick, the "Saint" in Saint John River or City of Saint John is always spelled out, not abreviated.  This is to avoid confusion with the capitol city of Newfoundland & Labrador, which is St. John's.  Very old maps or timetables (pre 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation) often used the abreviation, but modern convention is to spell it out.  My 1979 CP Atlantic Region timetable uses "Saint John" for the name of the division in New Brunswick.  

Date: 02/22/21 14:30
Re: NB Southern's St. Stephen Job
Author: refarkas

Great images.

Date: 02/22/21 14:30
Re: NB Southern's St. Stephen Job
Author: train1275

Thanks for posting these.
I never caught a train there but have fond memories of chocolate.
Lot's of good chcolate to be found there, or at least there was, it has been a while.

How long has the trackage to St. Andrews been gone ?

Date: 02/22/21 16:02
Re: NB Southern's St. Stephen Job
Author: briancdn

Great photos and narrative Geoff.
Brian N.

Date: 02/23/21 18:30
Re: NB Southern's St. Stephen Job
Author: cn6218

I'm not positive, but I think the St. Andrew's Sub may have been pulled up after NBSR took over in 1995.  I never saw a train on it, and when I was in St. Andrew's in 2000 there wasn't much evidence of the RoW remaining.


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