Fredericton’s Forgotten Rails

There hasn’t been a train in Fredericton, New Brunswick since the spring of 1995. Both CN and CP lifted their rails from the city and today there are only a few traces of the railway left. The York Street train station is the most visible reminder that trains once ran in the City of Stately Elms, but there are one or two other traces if you know where to look.

No Longer There

Boy standing on abandoned railway track
Former CP siding, Fredericton north side, circa 1999

For years, there was a section of rail on the northwest edge of the city, at the corner of Sunset Drive and Currie Avenue. I believe it was a siding that was left in the weeds when the CP main line was removed. My son Nick and I explored it sometime around 1999. This track isn’t there any more – I think it was removed when the Northside Trail was paved.

Rails in the ground surrounded by debris
Rails in the ground near the Fredericton train station, May 2003

Before the York Street station was refurbished, there were a few sections of rail and ties scattered around the area. It was a bit of a mess around there, between York Street and Regent Street. CP didn’t do a 100% perfect job when they removed the rails in the summer of 1995. Today the area is much cleaner.

Wilsey Road

I was in Fredericton in mid October (2023) and I remembered that there used to be an abandoned siding along Wilsey Road in the industrial park behind what was York Steel. I drove over there and went for a walk along the New Brunswick Trail. For a while, I didn’t see any trace of the railway other than the walking path I was stepping on. It is a nice trail to walk on!

Walking trail surrounded by trees in autumn

I was starting to lose hope, but then I spotted something in the brush. Rails!

Railway track buried in leaves and brush

With rising excitement, I walked the length of the rails, trying to figure out just how much track was buried under the fallen leaves and the undergrowth. It was really difficult to follow the track as it is surrounded by trees and shrubs. 30 years of nature taking over will do that.

Closeup of railway track with the words "ALGOMA CANADA"

These are 100 lb rails (meaning the rails weigh 100 pounds for each yard of track) and look like standard 39′ rails. I saw a couple of dates on the rails – 1946 and 1953.

Spot the rail in the photo below. This track is pretty well buried by now!

I made a little video with my phone while I was there. Sorry for the poor camera work.

I paced off the distance on the adjacent path and it looks like there is about 250-260 feet of track buried in the brush. I believe it was a siding that was cut off when the Fredericton subdivision was removed in 1996. Maybe somebody intended to come back and finish the job, but here it lies, more than twenty-five years later.

I’m glad that it’s still there.

The Fredericton Subdivision

The Fredericton subdivision ran for 22.2 miles from Fredericton Junction to the station in Fredericton. The scan above is from the April 24, 1960 employee timetable. I was very interested to see the station stops “within” Fredericton at Salamanca, Morrison, Oborne and Doak.

I know the “Salamanca” stop was basically underneath the Princess Margaret bridge (here’s the history of Salamanca). That puts “Morrison” on Dunn’s Crossing Road and “Oborne” about where the tracks used to cross Wilsey Road – see photo below.

That puts “Doak” at the south end of Wilsey Road, near the current highway overpass. I don’t know why there would be a station stop there, as there aren’t any houses around, but maybe it was for the industries in the area. There were some sidings there, which makes sense given the several industrial sidings that used to be there.

Compare the 1960 employee timetable above to the 1898 CPR “Fredericton Section”.

There were one extra station back in 1898: Wood Siding at mile 58.5 (or mile 14.1 if you count Fredericton Junction as mile 0.0, like more modern timetables do).

Back in 1898 Oborne was known as “Victoria”. It was common to rename stations if a railway was acquired that had a station name already in use; the railways definitely didn’t want two locations with the same station name anywhere in their system.

Note the station “RUSSIAGORNIS”. Today it’s known as Rusagonis.

Just One More Thing

Check out the video “The Fredericton Sub by Motorcar“. This was a speeder ride over the abandoned Fredericton Subdivision in May 1997 by Dan Dineen (“the Pedeman”), who was well known at the time for riding his motor car around New Brunswick.

Was this legal? Probably not! I’m glad he did, so we have this footage of the tracks. A few highlights of the video include 9:45 where he encountered a moose, 18:00 where he went over a bridge at mile 10.6 (approaching Waasis), and the end of the video, back at Fredericton Junction.

5 thoughts on “Fredericton’s Forgotten Rails”

  1. Thank you so very much for this.

    Not only, as a child, did I take the train from Minto NB to Fredericton and Durham Bridge, but, when at UNB, I’d walk the rails from the York Street station to get to classes.

    I also took the Dayliner from Fredericton to Halifax when it operated.

    In fact, I’d walk those rails down to the Princess Margaret Bridge, until they were ripped up. I have a rail spike somewhere. And, when they turned into trails, I’d use them as much as ever, in both directions from the York St. station. In fact, I used that dilapidated station in one of my novels. And I am so glad the old station was eventually saved (and put to such good use).

  2. Always sad to see abandoned rails.
    I thought the best photo is the one of the rail end among the leaves. Perfect shot!

  3. I love discovering forgotten rails that were left behind. There’s always a bit of sadness, but also the thrill of discovery. I enjoyed reading about this old subdivision. Interesting station names.

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