Newfoundland’s Most Fascinating Story
Painting by Boyd Holloway
The Railway Coastal Museum tells the fascinating story of the great initiative, courage, and sacrifice involved in building and operating the Newfoundland Railway and Coastal Services. These Services helped overcome isolation and opened up the vast resources of what was known as “The Oldest Colony” in the British Empire.
The story begins in the 1700s, when the cod fishery of the island of Newfoundland was known throughout Europe to be highly prosperous. “King Cod” beckoned, and thousands of young immigrants came here from England and Ireland. They sought a brighter future from our bountiful fishery. Because they could not fish on already occupied fishing grounds, fishers had to establish new villages, scattered along the lengthy coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador.
A HARD LIFE
Almost all of the hundreds of fishing village “outports” (meaning “out” from St. John’s) were isolated. Many who lived in the outports never did journey more than a few miles from home. The only means of travel and communication was by sea. Trying to connect all these little outports was a formidable task. Creating the necessary Railway and Coastal Services, and delivering passengers, mail, and freight, became a huge financial burden on the operators and on the Newfoundland economy.
The Railway Coastal Museum now brings you the well-documented story of the thousands of Newfoundlanders who needed the Railway and Coastal Services — and those who devoted their lives to building and operating them. The story spans many, many years, and contains hundreds of interesting and exciting accounts, recorded here in the Museum for your interest and enjoyment. “All aboard!” for a trip to those bygone days… at the Railway Coastal Museum!
Painting by W. Hancock Museum Collection
Newfoundland’s Most Fascinating Story
- 100 Year Old Station Building.
- 42 Pictorial Themed Exhibits.
- 1940s Passenger Train Diorama.
- 21 Costumed 1940s Figures.
- 28 Models, Murals, Paintings.
- 22 Posters, Biographies, Maps.
- Automated Train Model.
- Rail & Coastal Books + Gifts.
Railway Station, circa 1920s
Locomotive No. 317 (ALCO 1944)
Courtesy of Bruce Neal
Painting by Jim Miles
1. 42 THEMED EXHIBITS.
With all the elements of a modern-day novel — ambition, hardship, courage, tragedy, greed, and determination — the story behind the Newfoundland Railway and Coastal Boat Service is presented in fascinating detail through these 42 Themed Exhibits.
2. OTHER MUSEUM FEATURES.
During your trip through the Exhibits you’ll find many costumed figures, posters, paintings, scale models of locomotives and coastal boats, biographies of famous people, and rare maps of Railway and Coastal Boat routes. It’s an altogether captivating journey, with hundreds of old photographs and displays that tell of noble endeavors.
3. THE MURALS AND MINI-THEATRE.
Step back in time, surrounded by our 50 foot wide mural of St. John’s Harbour, the City. and Signal Hill during the 1940s. Settle into the Mini-theatre to view actual footage of train trips across the island, and coastal boats servicing our outports. Then, as you move on, take a look at the 25 foot wide mural of a coastal boat. The cutaway view lets you see first-hand the interesting activity during the voyage.
4. THE RAILWAY DIORAMA.
Newfoundland’s largest diorama takes you through the actual railcars from the Newfoundland Railway. The various section of a 1940s passenger train have been carefully restored, giving you a 90 foot full-scale, actual replica. You’ll see the:
- Observation Platform;
- Pullman / Sleeper;
- Dining Car;
- Coach; and
- Mail Car.
For many years the Newfoundland Railway provided the only way to travel by land across the island. Now, you can see for yourself exactly what train travel was like on the “Overland Limited,” operating from St. John’s to Port aux Basques.
5. AUTOMATED MODEL RAILWAY.
This 11° x 16° working model of the Newfoundland Railway is based on a layout that was designed by Frank and Aubrey Rogers, whose father was a Newfoundland Railway engineer. In this model, the train travels across the island, from Rort aux Basques to St. John’s, through detailed reproductions of mary scenic points. And in the center is a busy railyard, complete with roundhouse and turntable.