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Newfoundland Railway – US Assistance

Locobase 960
Allen Stanley has advised that five narrow gauge mikados were built 10/1941 on order #
S1853 as US Army #500-504 for Newfoundland Ry #500-504, which confirms R Tourret’s
report on page one of his book about the USA/TC locomotive stock list showing five
locomotives #500-504. But he described them as "ex Newfoundland Railway", which is
incorrect because they were purchased new from Alco by the US War Department.

Details from http://www.trainweb.org/j.dimech/roster/282ros.html are as follows:

CNR#309 Newfoundland #1009 Schen. 69736 10/1941 Scrapped 5/57


CNR#310 Newfoundland #1010 Schen. 69737 10/1941 5/57
CNR#311 Newfoundland #1011 Schen. 69738 10/1941 5/57
CNR#312 Newfoundland #1012 Schen. 69739 10/1941 3/57
CNR#313 Newfoundland #1013 Schen. 69740 10/1941 6/57

It was a condition of the lend lease arrangement that the US retained ownership of these
locomotives. On page 2 of R Tourret’s book there is a builder’s photograph of the #500
lettered on the side of the cab as “United States Army 500”. It is unknown when their
numbers were changed from #500-504 to #1009-1013.

The following reference explains the origin of these locomotives: “US Army in World War II
– Special Studies” By Stanley W Dzuiban “Military Relations Between The US and Canada
Chapter VII Operations in the Eastern States”. https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-
SS-Canada/USA-SS-Canada-7.html
In April 1941 a US Government “recommendation called for financial assistance by the
United States to Newfoundland as needed for rehabilitating and augmenting the railroad's
rolling stock by the amount necessary to meet U.S. military requirements.
In approving this recommendation, President Roosevelt directed the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation to work out the financial arrangements and made $1,250,000 from his
emergency fund available for procurement of the rolling stock for the U.S. Army.
As a result, a U.S. loan was worked out in principle for $2.1 million, which covered the
"absolutely necessary improvements"--five new locomotives, 150 cars of various types, work
equipment, and augmentation of repair facilities. The formalities for the loan were completed
on 24 November 1941, and the final barrier was cleared with the enactment by the
Newfoundland Government on 4 December of the Railway Loan Act.
Title to these cars, and to the five locomotives that were delivered shortly, was retained by
the United States. An additional direct U.S. contribution to the railroad rehabilitation was the
replacement of the 50-pound rail on the Argentia Branch (supplying Fort McAndrew and the
naval base) with 70-pound rail”.
Another reference states: “In 1941 the United States Army began a 10-mile line from USAF
Base Harmon Field (Stephenville) to the main line. The USAF line continued in use until
1963”. http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Railway/en/p.php
All other US military bases had been closed by 1963. The Stephenville Air Base was
operated by the US Army Air Forces from 1941 until formation of the USAF in 1947. The
Base was renamed the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base in June 1948. The USAF ended
operations there in 1966.
Nancy Cunningham (http://militaryrailwayservice.blogspot.com.au) advised that no US Army
railway operating battalions were sent to Newfoundland during WWII. This indicates that the
five US Army locomotives were operated by the Newfoundland Railway in support of the US
Military, which also accords with the lend lease concept.
Tim Moriarty (chessierail@gmail.com) provided links to information as follows:

The website: https://www.thedieselshop.us/USAF.HTML lists two GE 25-ton switchers


operated by the USAF in Newfoundland.

And: http://blog.traingeek.ca/2016/08/the-clarenville-station-and-display.html has photos of


former US Army 7596, a 30 tonne Plymouth locomotive built for the US Army and worked
at the base in Argentia, NL before going to Newfoundland Hardwoods. Also, another
Plymouth locomotive, a 35 tonne unit, built for the US Navy in 1943 as US Navy 65-00236.
It also worked at Newfoundland Hardwoods as #32 before being donated to the museum at
Clarenville Newfoundland.

And “Newfoundland Hardwoods still had three locomotives in 1989, according to the
Canadian Trackside Guide (CTG), even after CN ceased operation. The #30 listed in the 1989
CTG is the #32 shown above; #31 is the same, and the 1989 CTG lists a 14 tonne Plymouth
locomotive #32... not sure what happened to that one”.
The origin of the #32 is unknown. What the above references confirm is that small switchers
like these were used within military bases, but there were no mainline operations conducted
by US military units.

The Newfoundland Railway made profits during the war years because of the military traffic
and the local workforce was extensively employed in military construction works.
The lend lease loan from the US War Department was $2.1 million at 2.5% interest payable
in 15 years but it is unknown when these arrangements were terminated. Newfoundland
joined Canada in 1949 and the five locomotives were eventually renumbered as CNR class R-
2-c # 309–313.
Another quote: “The 30 'Mikado' locomotives numbered 1000-1029, were the workhorses of
the Newfoundland Railway between 1930 and 1949. The steam engines were converted to
oil-burning and renumbered CNR 300 to 329 by 1950.”