Not Garbage Yet!

The three phases of things:
  1. Shiny and new and desirable;
  2. Garbage (very little survives);
  3. Old and desirable (aka Retro or Antique).

An example: the Pullman car was something a president wanted; North America reworked its railroads to accommodate it (and him). By now, most are destroyed. However, The New Brunswick Railway Museum has two. They also have a small shunting yard full of train cars, engines and cabooses that have survived the Garbage phase (in some cases just barely) and are moving into the Old and Desirable phase.

I ended up at the museum by accident; driving back to Shediac from the Hopewell Rocks, I saw a jet fighter plane parked by the side of the road. On a lark I turned the van around and drove pack to take pictures of it. My 14-year-old self wouldn't have forgiven me. But then Désirée claimed she wanted to see the trains. In fact she wanted to enter the trains. And so we did. And this brought back my 8 year old self and memories of the few train trips I made from Toronto to Montreal. There were no VIA Rail cars from the 70s, which I assume are still in the Garbage Phase, but some of the car seats from the 60s looked I bit like what I remember.

The real joy (for me) was in the large shed, where they had a Caboose we could enter. As a kid in North Hatley we used to watch the trains go by and wave at the man in the caboose. Cabooses (cabeese?) are now only a thing of memory (I had to explain to Dominique what a caboose was), but my inner 8-year-old-train-geek got a kick waving from the caboose at the passing kids. Or rather, my wife.

The next best thing was clambering around 3 locomotives, 2 diesel-electrics from the late 50s and a steam locomotive beast from 1912. And this is what is so awesome about this museum. I was afraid it would be all staring at immaculate restorations through plexiglass. Quite the contrary: we got to clamber on and around the locomotives and into the engineering rooms, sit on the beat-up seats, admire the different levels of tech in the controls from large brass levers all the way to 80s era scram switches and digital speedometers. Désirée could have shimmied into the boiler's furnace if her mother would have allowed her and her father could have cajoled her to do so. We pushed on the huge levers, pull the ropes, opened up the panels to see the turbines.

Were we supposed to do all this? No one was around to tell us not to; these are huge machines made to withstand years of hard work. We would have been hard pressed to break anything the engineers hadn't already.

Conclusion: Worth the price, worth a detour, would go again.


Bikemoose said...

You might consider taking Désirée on a day-trip to Expo-Rail in Ste-Catherine on the South shore

Bikemoose said...

Oh, there is also a pretty good railway museum in Orangedale, Cape Breton Island.