Province doesn’t want The Loop

Mallory
Mallory Clarkson
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Private investor may be tourist attraction’s only hope

Trinity — The provincial government “has no wish” to assume ownership of the Trinity Train Loop, Tourism Minister Terry French acknowledged via email last week.

So, unless a private group or individual is willing to take it on, the deteriorating tourist attraction near Trinity will eventually meet its demise.

That’s upsetting for Stephen Bonnell, a railway aficionado and vice-president of the Clarenville Heritage Society.

“What you’re probably going to see is it being dismantled,” he said.

“I don’t want to see that happen.”

Bonnell heads down to the Loop a couple of times a year just to check on its condition.

“The vandalism has worsened with each passing year,” he said.

Hurricane Igor added more damage in September.

There’s two parts to the Loop: the historical loop of railway and a deserted amusement park. The track has always been considered to be on Crown land.

Ross Wiseman, the MHA for Trinity North, said the amusement park reverted back to Crown land more than five years ago after the previous owner defaulted on payments.

Four years after trains stopped running on the Bonavista Peninsula in 1984, tracks in the region were removed.

The Trinity Train Loop was built in 1911 by the Reid Newfoundland Company as part of a provincial government push to connect the province by rail.

The challenge for engineers at Trinity was to build a track that would allow the train to descend a steep elevation into the Town of Trinity, which was then a bustling outport and a centre of commerce for the region.

To allow the train to make the steep descent, the solution was to loop 6,600 feet of track around a pond, allowing it to descend gradually over a longer distance.

There are similar loops in the mountains of British Columbia.

Because of the unique engineering design of the track and its ties to pre-Confederation, and thanks to lobbying efforts of former railroad employee Clayton Cook, the loop was designated a heritage structure in 1988.

Then Francis Kelly built an amusement park around the site. The Trinity Train Loop was a going concern for several years, from the late 1980s until the late 1990s. For the past few years, however, it has been idle.

The wooden ties are rotting, the steel is rusting and the forest is beginning to move in on the track.

While the loop has historic designation by the province’s Heritage Foundation, that may not be enough to save it.

“Designations by the Heritage Foundation are commemorative only and, as such, the foundation bears no responsibility for the preservation of any designated site, as that rests with the owner,” French explained.

“Funding for heritage preservation is provided through a Crown agency, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the amount of up to $30,000 per project on a matched basis. The owner of the railway can apply for funding through the foundation. To date, no application has been received by the foundation.”

Bonnell can only wonder whether anyone is interested in taking ownership of the site, or leading an effort to restore the historic section of track.

“I know that government hasn’t expressed any interest in owning it themselves or operating it, they have no interest in taking ownership of it,” he said.

“I think they would be willing to work with someone with a fair amount of capital to put into it to get it cleaned up and getting a lot of the safety issues addressed. But the question is, is there going to be anyone coming forward?”

As Wiseman noted, “If there’s people out there who are interested in reopening it or want to become involved in the operation of it, in any fashion … they should sit down and have a chat with the Department of Tourism.”

The Packet

Organizations: Clarenville Heritage Society, Heritage Foundation, Trinity North Reid Newfoundland Company Crown agency Department of Tourism

Geographic location: British Columbia.Because

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Recent comments

  • Holly
    July 05, 2012 - 12:43

    I just think it is sad for a part of Newfoundland history to waste away. There is no need to finger point and shift blame because that helps nothing. People of the community should rally together and try to fix up this site. I remember when it was opened and I remember how busy this place was. I googled this the other day because I looked at pictures. Trinity Loop was a landmark for Newfoundland just as Splash and Putt is today. Tourist use to sleep in tents on camp ground. If someone showed an interest to the historic foundation im sure they would be given a government grant to fix but no one seems to care.

  • Brett
    March 08, 2011 - 11:24

    What I don't understand is why you would want to keep paying for it? As a tourist attraction, the loop doesn't seem to be paying for itself. If the people in the community want to keep it, and pay for the upkeep, let them. Why should everyone pay for an "investment" that doesn't pay out? I'd rather that myself and every other newfoundlander doesn't have $35,000 of provincial debt per person.

    • Patricia
      April 10, 2011 - 22:55

      The loop is not paying for itself right now because it is closed, and it is not costing the government any money now either. I don't know if you have ever been to the loop when it was open but I have, and I can tell you that when it first opened in the late 1980's it more than paid for itself. It also brought a lot of tourists to Newfoundland which boosted the economy in the area.

  • Trevor
    March 07, 2011 - 15:55

    The loop will be saved everyone, as of the news right now there will be no train running on it at least for a while, i will let you know on any new info as it becomes avalable to me

  • Anne
    March 07, 2011 - 12:32

    Try reading the artice again, Brad Cabana.. The amusement park reverted to crown land, the railway track is on crown land, but the province does NOT own the railway track and doesn't want to buy it. The province has no more responsibility to restore the railway track than they do any other private property designated as heritage.

  • choo choo
    March 07, 2011 - 12:25

    Bravo to Terry French for continuing the fine Tory tradition of Peckford and Crosbie of dismantling railways in our province.

  • wayne
    March 07, 2011 - 11:11

    If the local people and railway enthusiasts are REALLY interested in saving the loop, they should do what many groups in the UK (and I would assume other places) have done. Put there time and money where there mouths are. I have enjoyed riding many historic trains and rail lines in the UK that are owned and run by local volunteers. No government involvement.

  • Brad Cabana
    March 07, 2011 - 09:10

    The Trinity Loop has been neglected for years, and the result is now a historic location, part of this Province's history, has been layed to waste. Minister Wiseman says the government took the loop back five years ago. Minister French states:“Designations by the Heritage Foundation are commemorative only and, as such, the foundation bears no responsibility for the preservation of any designated site, as that rests with the owner,” Well, hasn't the provincial government been the owner for the last five years? This government allowed this site to deteriorate, and now they don't want to take responsibility for that. For a crowd that likes to tell people they are defending everything NL they sure have a funny way of showing it. Perhaps the reason they stepped away is that it is located in rural NL and needed money. Not unlike the MOU.

    • David
      March 07, 2011 - 12:46

      You're making incorrect assumptions. The land is crown land, that does not mean the province is obligated to maintain the business operating on it. There are thousands of businesses operating on crown land leases. That doesn't make the taxpayer responsible to bail out those businesses if they go under or fail to maintain their assets.

    • Brad Cabana
      March 07, 2011 - 13:03

      Brad Cabana - March 7, 2011 at 09:15:32 The Trinity Loop has been neglected for years, and the result is now an historic location, part of this Province's history, has been laid to waste. Minister Wiseman says the government took the loop back five years ago. Minister French states:“Designations by the Heritage Foundation are commemorative only and, as such, the foundation bears no responsibility for the preservation of any designated site, as that rests with the owner,” Well, hasn't the provincial government been the owner for the last five years? This government allowed this site to deteriorate, and now they don't want to take responsibility for that. For a crowd that likes to tell people they are defending everything NL they sure have a funny way of showing it. Perhaps the reason they stepped away is that it is located in rural NL and needed money. Not unlike the MOU.

    • Bill
      March 07, 2011 - 14:41

      Go away. No one want to hear your useless ranting.