Newfoundland, the smaller Alaska.

Newfoundland is located in Canada’s Maritime.  It’s such a beautiful place!   Newfoundland has the look and feel much like Alaska does.  The island is roughly 600 miles long from east to west and perhaps 350 miles long from north to south at its longest points.  Newfoundland has Fir trees and Spruce trees and jagged coastlines just as Alaska does as well.

I had ridden a freight train out of the Rigby Yards in South Portland, Maine on a lumber railcar that had been loaded with plywood.  I had to squeeze in between two stacks of this in order to fit and ride out of sight.  As I rolled northward along the Maine coast, I was in total awe at how beautiful the Atlantic Northeast states of the USA were!  I had ridden up out of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire the week prior, and now was almost out of Maine entirely! 

As night time fell upon me at the Canadian/USA border, I was anxious to get across the border and into New Brunswick.  I had made the decision to visit Newfoundland for my first time and didn’t want to get turned back at the border, so I had decided on an illegal crossing.  This was the first of May 1992 and getting through the border even then was a hassle, so finally after waiting about eighteen hours at the railroad bridge that crosses the St. Croix River out of Vanceboro, Maine and into Canada, I hopped up into an empty boxcar on a train that had made its way onto the bridge while crossing into Canada.

I rode all the way into the Island Yard in St. John, New Brunswick, in one ride!  Usually there at the border the trains will swap out locomotive units then continue on, but this had never been done, so this was to my advantage!  Once in the Island Yard, I right away saw a freight waiting on clearance to leave out onto the mainline!  So I high-stepped it over to where this train waited and scanned the entire length of it for a ride.  I found another empty boxcar roughly 40 car lengths back from the head end and I got up inside.  After waiting around 30 minutes we pulled.  We made our way along the rougher dark track territory lines of coastal New Brunswick until we reached Nova Scotia.

Dark Track areas are train lines that have no computer switches, electric signaling systems and usually are in worse shape than the higher maintained lines, so slower speeds are required along these areas, thus making your trip actually even better, being that you have a chance at seeing even more out of the boxcar doorway!

After I had reached the draw-bridge that spans the waterway inlet near the township of Aulac/Sackville, I felt that I had gone far enough into Canada where I wouldn’t raise any suspicions of me being in the country illegally, and even if I did get caught, I would just say that I crossed the border legally into Canada at Detroit/Windsor!   So I stuck out my thumb and caught a ride all the way to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  Here I eventually boarded the biggest ferry I ever saw in my life!  It was the Joseph Smallwood passenger/vehicle ferry, and for a walk on one-way passenger fare then of $16.00, I got an eight hour ride from the ferry terminal in Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland.  What an awesome ferry ride!  She had a casino on board, they played a movie in the small movie theater, and all in all, this ferry could hold 1,200 passengers and 350 vehicles, as well as 18-wheelers and busses!  I crossed roughly 110 miles of iceberg infested waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence!  What a majestic ride!

After reaching Port Aux Basque ferry terminal, I had already talked to many people that were riding with me on the ferry and had found a ride all the way across Newfoundland to its capital of St. John’s!  Beautiful as could be!  Newfoundland reminded me so much of Alaska!  Its beauty! Its majesty! The vividly colored wild-flowers that grew up from the roadside like a crowd rising to give a standing applaud!  This was great!

We drove all the way into St. John’s and the driver dropped me off at the Salvation Army homeless shelter downtown off Water Street where I begged for a room for the night at least until I could get out the next day and hunt for a place to set up my camp.  I was given one free night here, but would soon find out why I must now leave.

Once I had been given a room, the Salvation Army director took my sign-in application and called immigration on me.  The next morning I had a visit from Immigration Officer Greg Powers.  Mr. Powers was a silver haired Newfie.  His shoulders were just as broad as the ferry I rode over to Newfoundland on!  He asked for me to come with him so that we could talk privately.  I thought perhaps they knew of my illegal entrance, but what had happened is, the Salvation Army director had called immigration and had stated that I was from the USA and had no money, or way of supporting myself while I was in Canada, thus I was deported my first time and flown back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I had to stay at this Salvation Army four days before my papers had been put in order and I had gone to my immigration hearing. 

I had a nice flight back to the USA, but I had only been in Newfoundland those very few days and I wanted more!  So after a four month stay back in the USA, I made my way back to Canada’s Newfoundland once again!  This time around, I managed to meet a nice gal to where I had stayed at her place for roughly three weeks.  I had been spotted by the same immigration officer I had prior, and he reported seeing me again!  I thus was deported my second time!  This time at least I got to get a taste of Newfoundland.  This deportation, I was flown all the way to Barrow, Alaska!  When you are being deported, Canada will send you back anywhere that you state that you want to go as long as it’s in your country of origin.

NewfoundlandThis here is St. John’s harbor in beautiful Newfoundland.

Joseph Smallwood ferry terminalThis is the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.  It takes about eight hours to cross the channel from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland on the Joseph Smallwood ferry.


About hoboshoestring

I'm a professional hobo of nearly 25 years. This blog is a collection of my most memorable freight train trips; most with photos. First things first, a hobo is someone who rides freight trains and is not a homeless bum on the city streets. I've been hopping freight trains for transportation since 1989. I've ridden over 340,000 miles of steel rails in 49 US states, eight provinces in Canada and 14 states in Mexico. I ride all rail lines in North America. I have hundreds of hobo trip photos that can be viewed by clicking my "Photostream" at:
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