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Next Stop - Gaff Topsail Next Stop - Gaff Topsail

Mont Lingard
Photography by Mike Shufelt

Price: CDN$24.95
My fascination for trains goes back to my early childhood in Bishop's Falls. I grew up only a few feet from the train tracks. Like all young boys living in that area, I got many short train rides by holding on to flat cars and boxcars when switching activities were being carried out in the railway yard. It was only natural then that I would try to get a job with the railway when I finished school. A brief account of my career will with the railway is carried in Chapter I. Many years later, I continued to enjoy trains by riding on Number 203, a mixed extra, to Corner Brook and back to my cabin at Millertown Junction on 204. These trains carried one or two coaches between Bishop's Falls and Comer Brook to accommodate people living in Howley and the many cabin owners in the Gaff Topsails area. I always refer to this service as the remnants of the " Bullet". By now, I was equally fascinated by the Gaff Topsails section of the railway, commonly called "the hill". Keeping trains running here in winter had proven to be next to impossible during the entire lifetime of the railway.

It was on one of these train trips that I met Mike Shufelt. On July 5, 1986, my wife Christine and I, along with several of our friends, boarded 203 at Millertown Junction. We thoroughly enjoyed these train rides, and this trip was no exception. The train stopped at Gaff Topsail, and three passengers got aboard. Mike, his wife Ursula, and their son Michael Jr. were travelling from Bishop's Falls to Corner Brook and had been riding in the locomotive to this point. By the time we arrived in Corner Brook, we were friends, and I had invited him back. He showed me some of his pictures of railways in Canada and the United States and told me he had taken many pictures of the Newfoundland Railway on this, his first trip to this province.

In addition to his career as a Special Education teacher, Mike's photographs have appeared in many well-recognized railway magazines. These include Passenger Train Journal, Railroad Model Craftsman, Railroads Illustrated, and Branchline Magaizine. Numerous newspapers and other magazines throughout New York, New England, and Canada also feature his work.

Mike has been fascinated by the uniqueness of the Newfoundland Railway since he learned about the "Bullet" in 1969. Since his first trip in 1986, his interest and enthusiasm for the Newfoundland Railway has grown immensely, resulting in nine visits to Newfoundland and almost two thousand photographs. His interest in the Newfoundland Railway first brought him to Newfoundland, but his love of the island and its people continues to draw him back here time and time again.

On one of these visits, while admiring his photographs, I spoke of my intention to write a book about the Newfoundland Railway. I wanted to tell about railroading in the forties and fifties and, in particular, about the Gaff Topsails area. On every succeeding trip, he asked if I had started my book. We agreed that a selection of his photographs, along with the pictures provided by railroaders, would enhance my story. I had planned to interview retired enginemen, trainmen, sectionmen and others, and relate their stories in the frank and sincere manner in which they were given. Mike accompanied me on many of these interviews, and his remarkable knowledge of locomotives, equipment, and railroading in general was helpfiil in jogging the memories of these great railroaders. Some interviews went on for hours, and the tapes piled up. We often play these precious tapes and get a great deal of enjoyment from them. As this book is being printed, interviewing continues, and I will not stop recording the wonderful stories of railroading in Newfoundland while there is one railroader left who wants to talk with me.

Although space prohibits flaming everyone who has contributed to Next Stop: Gaff Topsail we wish to thank all those who gladly agreed to be interviewed, those who provided pictures and relevant information and public library staff members for their co-operation and assistance.

We wish to thank the Bishop's Falls Development Corporation for offices and equipment use and especially Patricia Stuckless for her interest, patience, and professionalism. Patricia is the daughter of the late Richard T. Byrne, who was a trainman for over thirty-five years. Mike and I our wives and families for their help and encouragement. Very special thanks to my daughter Tammie for reading and editorial advice.

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