Interest shown in Trinity Loop

Published on January 28, 2012
Signs of aging are visible on top of the trestle while this section of track, laid by amusement park owner Francis Kelly during a park expansion in the 1990s, was damaged by fast-moving water during hurricane Igor.
Adam Randell/The Packet

A group of Newfoundland railway enthusiasts hope there's a chance the Trinity Train Loop may one day come back to life, as it did for 20 years to the delight of visitors.

They may have reason to be hopeful for its future, depending on the outcome of a pair of applications for the site currently before the Department of Environment and Conservation's Crown Lands Division.

The two applications come from a single party, with one covering a lease of the existing train loop with tracks, and the other for the purchase of surrounding property.

The loop, which the province's Heritage Foundation assigned a historic designation in 1988, was built in 1911 as part of efforts to help the rail system connect all communities in the province.

Beginning in the 1980s, it was operated as a museum and theme park, but it has not been used in several years. The land and all related infrastructure is now considered Crown property, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Trevor Croft, one of the railway enthusiasts who started a Facebook page and set up an online petition to promote saving the site, said he has heard of potential lease arrangements for the property since 2010.

"Our group is really passionate about railway history," said Croft, noting it includes people who worked in the industry when it still existed in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Though he has not visited the site recently, he said others have, and the news is not good.

"It's pretty much demolished," he said. "All the track has to be removed and new stone laid down."

He said the train windows are broken, and graffiti can be found throughout the site.

Site deteriorating

A story published last March by The Packet in Clarenville noted wooden ties were rotting, steel was rusting and the forest was encroaching on the track.

Croft said hurricane Igor also damaged the site, washing out approximately 100 feet of track.

The government is waiting for the applicant to provide a business plan or proposal, which must be submitted to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

As of earlier this week, that information had not been received, according to a spokeswoman for the department.

The government did not respond to a request from The Telegram to identify the applicant. Twitter: TeleAndrew