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MIDDLETON, NS — Two small railroad locomotives and a steam locomotive tender rolled into the Middleton Railway Museum on December 29 but did not arrive by rail.
The new acquisitions came overland on flatbed trucks from the Museum of Industry in Stellarton.
And there’s more on the way, including a 117-year-old steam locomotive being reunited with the newly acquired tender after a 30-year separation.
The new rolling stock joins the museum’s growing collection, which includes a steam locomotive, tender, and boxcar donated by the Annapolis County community. They are currently sitting on tracks on the north side of the station. These pieces of rolling stock have been in Upper Clements Theme Park for more than 30 years.
The museum also has two speeders that are being restored.
“The Board of Directors of the Middleton Railway Museum is delighted with the new arrivals,” said Chair Dianne LeGard. “We see this as a tourist destination of the future. We have a lot of volunteers working very, very hard to make all of this possible.”
Some of these volunteers are members of an acquisitions team that visited the Museum of Industry twice in the past two years to assess the artifacts offered by the museum and prepare them for their trip to Middleton.
AW Leil Cranes was commissioned to move the new rolling stock. A small crew of volunteers and a small crowd of spectators awaited the arrival of the new acquisitions on December 29 and watched three flawless lifts with a 110 tonne crane.
The tender goes with steam locomotive CN 7260, also a gift from the Museum of Industry to the Middleton plant, and is expected to arrive in mid-January. CNR 7260 is 27 feet long, weighs almost 60 tons and was built in 1906 in Kingston, Ontario. It is the oldest surviving locomotive built by the Canadian Locomotive Company and served for decades at the CNR Bridgewater yards.
The tender is 19 feet long and was lifted off the flatbed with a crane and placed on the track closest to the museum car park. In front there is enough space for the engine and behind it additional space for another car, if one should be purchased.
One of the two smaller industrial engines is a Plymouth that was used at the Wallace Quarries in Cumberland County, hauling limestone from the quarry to the main line. It weighs 20 tons and has a six-cylinder Buda gas engine. It was built in 1943 by the Fate Root Heath Company of Plymouth, Ohio.
The other industrial engine is a Vulcan with a Rolls-Royce diesel engine, which during its long life transported logs and wood chips from the main line of the Bowater paper mill in Brooklyn on the South Shore, among other things. It was built by the Vulcan Iron Works of Wilkes Barre, Pa. for Bowater when the mill opened in 1930.
Both of these engines now sit behind the Middleton Museum boxcar.
In addition to an additional steam locomotive, the Middleton Railway Museum will also receive a 75-foot railroad turntable, originally from Bridgewater, which would allow the museum to move locomotives and wagons around the marshalling yard.
Did you know already?
• Weddings have been held and high school graduation photos taken at the Middleton Railway Museum.
• Although the museum has been mostly closed to the public for the past two years, hundreds of people have dropped by just to see the steam locomotive. The museum hosted open house weekends throughout the summer of 2022.
• The museum has several railway photography collections and a library of railway-related books and magazines.
John MacDonald, who leads the museum’s acquisitions team, was instrumental in the relocation of steam locomotive CNR 1274 and its tender from Upper Clements. He brought CN board chairman Robert Pace into the picture and agreed to send a crew to Middleton to build new infrastructure for free.
This was not lost on the provincial industrial museum, and officials there contacted MacDonald.
“They said they had some artifacts that they would like to see if we were interested,” he said, “and they sent me pictures of things they had to move out of a facility in Stellarton.”
MacDonald said the artifacts belonged to Nova Scotians.
“And they come with a responsibility,” he said. “We have been assured that the Middleton Railway Museum Society will find ways to take care of these artifacts in its turn, now and in the future.”
LeGard doesn’t see the museum just as a custodian of artifacts. She sees it as a valuable lesson in how the railroad powered the economy of the Annapolis Valley, transporting all manner of goods from lumber and apples to livestock, milk, feed, food and dry goods.
She also sees it as something that belongs to the community, with the board of directors involving young and old alike in the development of the museum, and through outreach she has received help and support from local service clubs, hardware stores and dozens of volunteers.