Back in August 2007, I traveled the length of the Gaspé Peninsula with my friend and fellow railfan David Morris, chasing the VIA Rail train. I wrote about it long ago in Steve and Dave’s Excellent Gaspe Adventure, but I thought I’d write about a piece of it here. Also, I think the links in that old Blogger post series are a bit borked.
The specific portion I am writing about here is the Chandler subdivision, which is the section of track between New Carlisle, Quebec and the end of the line at Gaspé, Quebec. It includes the namesake town of Chandler, of course.
1973 Employee Timetable
Above and below are the pages in the October 1973 CN employee timetable for the Chandler subdivision. The stations are listed above, along with the passenger train and freight train schedules. Below are the footnotes for the subdivision, including speed limits, weight limits and spur tracks among others.
I’m going to present the towns in order from start to finish in timetable order. The photographs you see will be out of chronological order, because some were taken on the way to Gaspé and some were taken on the return chase.
We start at New Carlisle, mile 0.0, en route to Gaspé.
New Carlisle is the “division point” between the Chandler and the Cascapedia subdivisions. Often the train would turn here if it was running late, and passengers for points beyond would be bused from here.
There was a little one stall “engine house” / maintenance shed in the yard. I’m not sure what was in it, but an ex CN “broom” was parked outside. Note that the “broom” is on a speeder trailer, all the glass is gone, and part of it is supported by concrete blocks!
Ex CN snowplow CFM 002 was parked in front of the broom, also missing its glass.
We wanted to make sure we got “the bridge shot” at Port Daniel, so we elected to skip the station and get right on the wharf to capture the train crossing the bridge. I had never been on the Gaspé peninsula before, so David was taking me to his favourite locations to shoot. David photographed the Gaspé many, many times and knew it like the back of his hand.
This was one of my favourite photos of the trip. The reflection, the rusty bridge, the boats… a great combination. The only way this could be better, in my opinion, was if we were in a boat in the harbour!
The photo below shows the westbound train later that day. You can see the wharf where I was standing for the photo above.
I photographed the train station from across the harbour while the train was going east.
We were closer to the station for the westbound train. In the photo below, you can just see the tail end of the train on the bridge beyond the station.
The only tunnel on the Gaspé line is just railway east of the town, but I never saw it. The 1973 employee timetable says to “watch for falling rocks between mileages 25.4 to 25.6 and 30.4 to 30.5”, which is east of Port Daniel.
Here VIA was crossing the bridge at mile 29.80, close to Gascons, Quebec. There are many bridges on the line.
We stopped in the town of Chandler to record the train’s arrival. Chandler was the home of a large Abitibi-Price paper mill, which had its own locomotive, rolling stock and even its own track to the wharf.
Here are a few photos of the locomotive and the rolling stock. The locomotive was coupled to three or four green flatcars with no reporting marks but with “Abitibi-Price” stenciled on them. They may have been reacher cars to allow the locomotive to switch the wharf without putting the locomotive itself on the wharf.
The tank cars look like they were ex Procor and said “MAZOUT” on each end, whatever that means. The car below was built in June 1957 and still had friction bearings on the wheels.
Here’s a still from the video I took, showing the westbound train coming into Chandler. The track curving off to the right is the main line – the station was behind my right shoulder. The track on the left went to the paper mill. The faint / overgrown track on the far left must have been the track that went to the wharf. There was a diamond crossing of the CN line to get to the wharf at mile 44.3 on the CN line, as shown under “Non Interlocked” in the subdivision footnotes at the top of this post.
Pabos wasn’t listed as a station stop in the 1973 employee timetable, but there’s a great beach here and a nice railway bridge.
I recorded video of the eastbound train, but took still photographs of the westbound train from the non-beach side.
The photo above shows the eastbound train on a small bridge at mile 55.7, just east of Grande Riviere.
We captured the Percé station stop on the westbound trip. A lot of people boarded the train here, as the Percé Rock is a popular tourist attraction.
Outside Percé is a three span steel bridge. Here’s a still from video that I took from far above.
The train station in Barachois is a little odd looking, in my opinion. It looks like it has had house-like pieces grafted onto it.
There is a busy beach at Douglastown, not far from the town of Gaspé. The railway line has a three span bridge here. The photo above shows the eastbound train, while the photo below shows the westbound train. I was juggling photography and videography so I didn’t get a good photograph of the entire bridge on the way back.
Oddly I didn’t photograph the Gaspé station itself. When we arrived in the town, the train was already headed to the wye to turn around, so we photographed that operation and then went for a late lunch.
Noranda and the Wye
The wye was beside the Noranda Mines facility in the town. The mine itself closed in October 1999, but the smelter remained in operation until April 2002. When we visited in August 2007, it had been dormant for more than 5 years. I believe everything has been removed by now.
The train backed up to here, with one of the engineers in the tail end car protecting the movement.
Once they reached the switch, the train stopped and the engineer lined the switch.
Here they are, having completed the turn, backing down to the station.
The Yard in Gaspé
Here’s a wide view of the train with the marina behind it. I think the locomotives were still being refueled. Note the rather overgrown yard tracks.
Looking railway west, we can see some rusty rails and overgrown tracks in the yard. The main line is to the left of the rusty rails in the foreground.
Just One More Thing
Please consider joining the Facebook group “Help Save the Railway on the Gaspe Coast” to get the latest news on the railway. It is being rebuilt, starting from Matapedia and eventually reaching Gaspé.
The workers are working on the Chandler subdivision in 2020, replacing rails and ties and rebuilding bridges. The goal is to enable freight traffic to the new cement plant outside Port Daniel to start, and eventually to reach Gaspé again.