PEIR Rolling Stock notes

I’ve been unearthing more details about the PEIR rolling stock fleet. Based on what I’d seen in photos and early reports I had always assumed that the freight car fleet was comprised on mostly flat (“platform”) and box cars. I’ve been finding out that all was not so. I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning lately. I’ve seen a few references to stock cars built by the car shops though the only shots of stock cars in service on the railway are photos taken after the railway was standard gauged. Those cars were classic stock cars and available, in HO scale, in resin kits Westerfield used to market. Another car type I always thought that we should have had, but could never find a reference to, was refrigerated box cars. The Summerside Journal published an article in 1898 that indicates that Charlottetown was building them for the Railway:

According to the wish of the Minister of Agriculture, Superintendent Sharp has provided cold storage transit accommodation on the Prince Edward Island Railway, and on Wednesday of each week, cold storage cars will run from Tignish and Souris to Charlottetown. This will give exporters a chance to ship fresh fish, fresh meat, poultry, butter, fruit and perishable products of various kinds to Charlottetown, and connecting there, if so desired, with the steamer Halifax, leaving every Thursday for Boston…

When I first read that quote I pictured simply insulating a box car or coach but I’m starting to wonder if our shops actually turned out some traditional end-bunker cars for use on the Railway? It sounds like they were run as part of a dedicated service with their schedule designed to coordinate with the sailing of ships like the Halifax. It would be interesting to read more about that ship and it’s sailing patterns to try and glean more information about the types of products we actually shipped through Charlottetown. In developing a layout based on this period this train would be fun to fit into the schedule. I wonder how many of these cars were used by the railway and how they were moved. I’ve never seen a reference to any ice houses or icing platforms that were run by the narrow gauge railway so I assume that the cars would be shipped un-iced out to where they were needed and then the shipper might appear with both the load and the requisite ice? I assume most of these cars were loaded on public sidings on the railway?
Swinyard’s report quoted the inside dimensions of the passenger cars as being 7′-6″ wide by 40′-0″ long. The Summerside Journal indicates that longer cars were under construction. Here’s the text from an article written in 1894:

A fine new combined second class, smoker and baggage car, fifty-five feet in length is being built for the western express. When this car is put on, the train will be enabled to run one car lighter…

I always assume that dimensions quoted are interior dimensions. It’ll be fun to stretch the template I’ve been developing for PEIR passenger cars and draw up one with this longer length. I need to finish the roof design for that drawing and then I’ll get that online. Hopefully this will come soon.

I find colour references for the railway are extremely scarce and everything (and that’s not much!) about the colour of cars on the Railway is based on the water-colour photos from Stanley LeClaire’s book. Since he painted what he saw I assume he was close enough to accurate, for me. The Daily Examiner described new passenger car construction in an article they published in 1897:

The exterior of the car is painted dark brown with gold decorations and lettering. This we understand will be the standard colour for all passenger coaches to be here-after turned out of the railway shops…

So that’s interesting and a refreshing change of colours from the classic olive shades so often associated with railroad passenger cars.

As I dig deeper into the Railway’s rolling stock fleet I find I’m also learning more about how the Railway operated. The types of trains and how freight moved over the railway. It appears that our ports each had unique properties and in turn were used for additional unique forms of traffic. Summerside connected, by steamer, to New Brunswick and seems to have been the main connection point to the mainland for both passengers and mail. I’ve seen a lot of photos of narrow gauge passenger trains on the wharf performing this duty. Georgetown was the connection to Montague, Murray Harbour, Murray River and most importantly Pictou and the Intercolonial Railway. I would assume that a lot of general merchandise travelled through this port. Finally this recent discovery about perishable traffic through Charlottetown feeds into this as well.

As always, I’m keen to know more and I think I’ve got some new places to start from. That’s always exciting.


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