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Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Newfie Bullet

   Since one of our esteemed members recently visited "the Rock" and sent back a picture and note that he had found the "missing Newfy Bullet", it seemed appropriate to bring all our members up to date on this Canadian railroad legend. Started in the 1800's using 3' 6" narrow gauge trackage 
by private operators, the line ran from St.John's in the east over central highlands to the ferry terminal at Port Aux Basques in the southwest corner of Newfoundland. The passenger train, called the Overland Limited, was
operated by Newfoundland Railway from 1898 to 1949 when the island be- came our 10th province and Canadian National Railways took over. The stamp was issued in 1928 and shows the Overland Limited before it was renamed the Caribou in 1950 by CNR. The nickname, Newfie Bullet, was coined because of the 23 hours that it took the Caribou to traverse the route each way if circumstances were normal. Weather and maintenance problems could quickly increase the time. The Trans Canada Highway opened across the island in 1965, allowing cars to make the trip from the ferry to St.John's in under 12 hours. This competition started to seal the fate of the Bullet since it took a day and a night to make the same trip. By 1967, CN started a bus service that made the trip in 15 hours. However, many fought against the demise of the Bullet  by 
claiming the buses would not be able to 
handle the rough Newfie winters. A train
derailment that winter with passengers transferred to buses in turn derailed their argument somewhat. Still the Bullet con-tinued to run because of CN concerns that buses would not be able to handle the rapidly increasing summer tourist numbers by 1969. However, additional buses allowed CN to stop running the Bullet in July, 1969. Freight service con-
tinued across Newfoundland until the complete abandonment of the unique narrow gauge system in the fall of 1988. CN bus service was sold to private operators in March, 1996.     

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