New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

European & North American Railway, 1862

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From the blog at

The following engineering assessment is from a Report of the Railway Commissioners of the Province of New Brunswick, and outlines progress in building the European and North American Railway for the year 1861.

The European and North American was one of New Brunswick’s first railways, preceded only by the Saint Andrews and Quebec Railway which, by 1862, had made it only to Richmond Corner in the Woodstock area. The European and North American line was from Saint John through Sussex to Moncton and Shediac and onward to Pointe du Chêne, and would eventually intersect with the Intercolonial Railway from Halifax to the Canadas. The European and North American was destined to have a more successful future.

New railways were almost always built in haste. The first priority was to get trains moving so that the promoters could start to earn back their investment. Rebuilding or improvement could wait. The Engineer’s report outlines the difficulties of maintaining such a railway in its early years. There was everything from drainage problems to rickety structures to deal with, in addition to building other facilities for completion of the work. The Engineer’s claim that the work was “thoroughly done at first” was, it seems, mostly for the benefit of the Commissioners [and so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say].

E&NA Stamp 

One-cent stamp first issued in 1860 in anticipation of the E&NA

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Resident Engineer’s Report

Engineers’ Office, St. John, N. B. January 18, 1862.

Robert Jardine, Esquire, Chief Commissioner


I have the honour to submit the following Report of the operations of the Engineering Department of the Railway, during the year that has elapsed since I was placed in charge:—

In reviewing in their order the various points along the Railway, I have taken each District by itself.

Saint John District from Saint John to Ossekeag

The number of Sidings in the Saint John Station Yard has been increased, and a “Fairbanks Patent” Track Scale put up, the latter being much required for the purpose of weighing Engines, Cars and their loads. The Ballast used in the yard has been that brought by vessels entering the harbour, and has cost less than any that could have been otherwise procured of sufficiently good quality. Throughout the District, wherever the slopes of the cuttings had slipped, they have either been trimmed flatter and supported by retaining walls, or properly drained and sodded. Most of them are now, I believe, secure. Much trouble and expense have been saved on Sections 5 and 6 of this District, owing to the slopes of the cuttings having been covered with sods as soon as they were trimmed, while, from my knowledge of the nature of these cuttings at the time they were taken out, I have no hesitation in saying, that this plan, though apparently expensive at first, has already saved more than its cost.

Hampton District from Ossekeag to Sussex

Two new Sidings have been laid in the District during the year. The embankments having settled in several places, I was obliged to use additional ballast to bring them up to the proper height. With these exceptions, nothing beyond the ordinary maintenance has been necessary.

Sussex District Sections 10 to 16, both inclusive

In Sussex Station Yard a Shed has been built to cover the Turntable, as well to protect it from injury by the weather, as to save the expense of keeping it free from snow during the winter. The Freight Platforms have been enlarged and improved, so as to facilitate the loading of timber and other heavy freight. Water has been brought into the yard from a spring of sufficient size to ensure a constant supply, and with head enough to throw water over any of the buildings in case of fire. The Pipes used are the “Patent Cement Pipes,” similar to those laid down in Carleton.

In consequence of the appearance of springs in the bottom of one of the cuttings on Section 11, I was obliged to incur considerable expense in building large French drains and putting on new ballast. One of the Cuttings on Section 13 has also been very troublesome, owing to the peculiar nature of the material through which it is made. The embankment west of Penobsquis, which, notwithstanding the judicious means adopted for its preservation by the former Engineers, was in danger of being injured by the rapid current of Stone’s Brook, has been widened and further protected. A small amount has been expended in slope draining and ballasting such other parts of the District as required it.  At Anagance, a large freight platform has been put up for the accommodation of the lumber traffic of that Station. At Petitcodiac, a Tank House has been built, into which water is brought from two springs distant about one third of a mile. The pipes used are the “Patent Bituminized Pipes,” which, costing less than half as much as iron, are said to be practically as strong and much more durable— they are light to handle, and can be easily and quickly laid.

Salisbury District from the end of Section 16 to Moncton

This District, as far as regards the superstructure, has been the most expensive and troublesome on the Line. The ballast first put on, though the best that could be found on the district at the time, was originally of inferior quality, and was made worse by the slurry from the slopes. The embankments are almost all heavy and in some instances had settled considerably. These and other causes rendered it necessary to put on a large quantity of ballast, some of which had to be brought from a great distance. In addition to this, many of the cuttings proved to be very wet, making a thorough system of slope drainage indispensable. At Steves’ Lake cutting, especially, though the slopes were considered well drained, the action of the heavy snows and thaws of last winter brought them down almost bodily. I have had more drains put in, new ditches dug and the slopes properly trimmed, soiled and sown with grass seed. I have now great pleasure in stating that they have stood the test of the frequent rains of last Autumn, without receiving much injury. A Tank House has been built at Steves’ Lake. The water for this Tank is led along the embankment nearly a mile in wooden pipes from a brook which crosses the Railway, at sufficient elevation to give the necessary head.

Moncton and Shediac District from Moncton to Point du Chene

At Shediac, the Turntable has been covered with a shed as at Sussex. The Blacksmith’s Shop has been enlarged, and a Brass furnace added to the Machine Shop. Shediac Station is now supplied with water from a spring distant about a mile and a quarter, and there, as at Sussex and Petitcodiac, there is sufficient head to be useful in case of fire. The pipes used are the “Patent Bituminized Pipes.” The Shediac Station Buildings are very much crowded together, and in consequence, the yard is constantly blocked up with snow in winter. I would, therefore, suggest that the Engine and Car Sheds should be moved to the Eastward of the Machine Shop. This could be done at a small cost, and would be a material improvement to the yard.

The Wharf at Point du Chene, which was formerly merely ballasted with stone, has been planked over the entire surface, and a second track, with the necessary points and crossings, has been laid the whole length of the wharf. A large quantity of ballast, and part of the former track, were washed away by a storm in the autumn of 1860; the efficacy of the present plan has been fully proved by the fact that the storms of last autumn, during which the sea broke completely over the wharf, did no damage. Additional fender posts have also been put on, so that there are now berths at the wharf for three steamers. The passenger and freight platforms have been enlarged, and such improvements made in the arrangement of them, as experience in the nature of the traffic showed to be necessary. The channel at the end of the wharf, which, in some places, was too shallow for steamers, has been deepened to 13 feet at low water.

I may here endorse the recommendation of Mr. Light, late Chief Engineer, that the small wooden bridges at Big Scadouc, Little Scadouc, and Cook’s Brook, should be replaced by stone culverts. These bridges, having been standing about seven years, must, in the ordinary course of things, soon require renewal; and as sandstone, easily quarried and worked, can be procured at Scadouc River, the cost of the culverts, need not greatly exceed that of new wooden bridges. I have caused such repairs to be made on these bridges as will render them secure for the winter.

I have also to report generally, that the Railway is now well provided with Sidings, the total length being over thirteen miles, of which more than a mile has been laid during the past year; that the water-ways have proved quite sufficient to vent all the water; and that the Bridges, Culverts, and other structures, are all in good order.

The slopes of every cutting have been soiled, and sown with grass and clover seed; if this is repeated, where necessary, till the slopes are completely grassed over, the expense of maintenance will be much decreased.

The following Watering Stations are now supplied with Water by gravitation, viz:— St. John, Rothsay, Quispamsis, Ossekeag, Moosehorn, Sussex, Petitcodiac, Steves’ Lake, and Shediac; the cost of pumping is thus saved at these stations, while there is the further advantage of increased protection from fire.

In conclusion, I am happy to be able to state, that the Railway, throughout its whole length, is in good running order, and that the true economy of having the work thoroughly done at first, is already making itself manifest in the extremely small cost of maintenance.

I remain, Sir, Your obedient servant,

J. Edward Boyd, Resident Engineer


Written by johnwood1946

October 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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