Riding A Special On The Cumberland, Published 24 December 1945Those buildings up there on the hillside proved to be Springhill, Nova Scotia. Of all mining towns I have yet seen in eastern Canada, this looked to be about the most attractive. The stores seemed better, the people were well dressed, and the town had an air all its own. Its buildings ran the gamut from the super-ramshackle hockey rink, condemned in 1912 but still in use, to the Miners Hall, substantial brick building in the center of town.
Springhill's main street winds and twists up a steep grade, and it teemed with life. I might have liked to have lingered longer, but I still had a railway to ride. But first of all, I made a call at the office of Charles J. Allbon, editor of the Springhill Record. We talked a little shop, then went down to the depot of the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company.
Here Mr. Avard, who had been my tour director all afternoon, and Scoop Ross, who duly chronicled my railway rides subsequently in two columns of the Amherst Neivs, said goodbye to me. I was now passed over to Editor Allbon and Superintendent McMillan. Earl B. Paul of the railway also joined the party.
Now I have ridden a good many railways in a great deal of style. The New Central (sic) has gone so far as to find a special spot for me on The Twentieth Century Limited, when it had a waiting list of hundreds. The Green Bay and Western found a cosy seat for me in the president's car. But never before, up till now, had any railway operated A SPECIAL TRAIN for me! They really understand hospitality down in Cumberland.
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So they wheeled out green-painted coach 602. which, if you go inside, you will find is old CNR No. 3044. Then we got a caboose, a fawn colored affair, as I recall it, seeing it only in the dusk. Up ahead was No. 11 of the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company, a o-OOOO wheel arrangement.
In such style and with such exclusive grandeur did I travel from Springhill to Springhill Junction. In that fashion I rode my 106th railway.
The C.R. & C. operates from Springhill Junction through Springhill, and clear through to Parrsboro, on the Bay of Fundy, a distance in all of 32 miles. This compares with an approximate 21 miles of the Maritime Railway between Maccan and Joggins Mines.
The Cumberland Railway has been operating for a long time, and doubtless it could not have survived were it not for the heavy coal traffic it handles. Of my trip there is nothing much to say except that the Cross Special finished its run far too soon, and we ended up in a red hot political discussion in Springhill Station, which only ended when the big 6203 of the Ocean Limited poked her nose past the waiting room, and I knew it was time for me to continue my run to Halifax.
So it was goodbye to all the kind people of Cumberland. Somehow, this time, I had come to know the Blue Noses better, and appreciate them more, than on any previous trip.
Now perhaps, as you have, followed me through these three articles, you might wonder how many days were consumed in this particular trip. Would it surprise you to know that my meal at Sackville, my trip to Amherst, my run in to Joggins, my visit to the power plant, my call at Spring Hill, and my rides on two new railways took about five hours? Actually, this whole Three Geography Lesson exploit was carried out between trains, from the moment the Maritime Express arrived at Sackville, till the Ocean Limited, following, swung into Springhill Junction, about 25 miles down the line. It's a very interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I hope you will admit.
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The Ocean Limited coaled up at Springhill Junction, then in the dark went up through the Cobequids, past Wentworth Valley, a picture of which used to be on the old Dominion of Canada five dollar bills, and on past Folly Lake, an attractive scenic item. Soon it was the bustle of Truro, our last big stop before Halifax. There they had an old Quebec Central engine working as a Dominion Atlantic locomotive, No. 44 having a stencilled Evangeline on her tender.
Once more we were under way, and quickly enough, we were coming into Halifax by that absurd back entrance of theirs, and a great day ended with my crawling into the comfortable sheets of the Nova Scotia Hotel. Far out at sea. but smashing toward us at the rate of 35 miles an hour, was the super ship Queen Elizabeth. But it was not of her that I dreamed that night, but of old No. 9 up at Maccan, and old No. 11 up at Springhill. So the total now is 106. Heaven knows where the next railway's coming from.