Baldwin DS-4-4-15m in the PRR(y)'s Pennsylvania Railroad-alike paint scheme Derby-built RS-38 #1644 in tricolo(u)r paint

In 1987, ice jams on the St Johns River took out the Canadian Pacific’s bridges at Perth-Andover & Woodstock, New Brunswick, cutting off the Tobique subdivision and the paper mill in Plaster Rock. The tonnage coming out of mill had been declining for about a decade and it was down to 3-5000 carloads a year, which was nowhere near enough revenue to rebuild at least one of the bridges.

CP promptly abandoned the subdivision and that would have been that, but a retired CPR executive hailed from Plaster Rock and realized that this would be a terrific project.

Instead of restoring the bridge at Perth-Andover, which would have been even more prohibitively expensive for a short line than it was for the CP, the new short line – named the Plaster Rock Railway – arranged trackage rights on the Canadian National from Plaster Rock to Edmondston, built a steeply graded connection from the Tobique river up to the CN line that passed far overhead, purchased and had ILW rebuild an ancient DRS-4-4-15 (NP 176, which had been sold to a steelworks, had its nose (poorly) chopped, and went out of service in 1985) and put the Plaster Rock end of the Toboque branch back into service.

This happy state of affairs went on for about 20 years, but eventually age caught up to the Baldwin and CN said that they couldn’t risk having that locomotive fail on their mainline. This was unfortunate, because a new (used) locomotive was expensive, so they arranged to sell the entire railroad to the LT&L, which had swept up a collection of ex-CPR branchlines across western NB, was interested in the PRR(y), and had access to a collection of GP38s that the Bangor & Aroostook had stored in Milo, Maine.

The LT&L had bigger plans for the PRR(y) than just absorbing it into a disconnected NB division – no, instead they transferred all of the northern New Brunswick branches over to the PRR(y), and kept it as another subsidiary in the tangled mess that is the Parsons Vale’s organizarion chart.

(One take back from this transfer happened during the plague of 2019; the PRR(y)’s connecting line along the river from St Johns to Aroostook was embargoed after the aggregate quarries along the line reduced operations, and the now detached Fort Fairfield to Perth Andover line was transferred to the BAR and now operates as an extension of that railroad’s Fort Fairfield branch.)

In 2025, the {Parsons Vale]’s motive power department decided to phase out most of the EMD diesels on the system, so the 14 GP38s that the PRR(y) rostered were retired and replaced with an even dozen RS-38s that had been displaced from other railroads in the system as they were either electrified or picked up Alco power from other railroads that had been electrified.

The PRR(y)’s first paint scheme was deliberately a PRR-alike one, with the slight difference that there were far fewer catwhisker stripes and instead of a keystone it used a stylised drawing of a roughly keystone shaped chunk of gypsum (It was designed when the PRR(y) was given the PRRY reporting mark, which was a plea for creative reuse.) The GP38s that replaced the Baldwin were delivered in either this paint scheme or the LT&L’s tricolour one, and when those geeps were retired in favor of RS-38s this scheme was completely replaced with the tricolor.

  • Copyright © 2024 by Jessica L. Parsons ( unless otherwise noted
    Wed Thu Feb 09 22:43:20 PST 2023