August 10, 2019

Running out of steam

The 503 has seen better days with the Temiskaming Northern Ontario Rail steam engine rusting away in a little-used corner of North Bay's Community Waterfront Park.

The 503 steam engine hasn't been locomotive for many decades and despite genuine sentiment, it's not likely to billow clouds into the North Bay sky anytime soon.

Moved from Lee Park in 2000, it's been shunted to the far corner of the Community Waterfront Park. And the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Rail engine has been since neglected of care and too far out of sight for anyone to notice. It's also a target of vandals and thousands of spiders dining on shad flies.

Could it be moved closer to the North Bay Museum as a static attraction? A couple cranes and buckets of paint applied by expert volunteers would do the job.

Or is there any hope of success by the Fire Up the 503 campaign begun in 2017? Way back when, the city had the 1201 pumping under steam with passengers enjoying a trip south and back.

Comments from the Facebook Group of A Bit of the Bay readers:

  • Nick Christian Maybrey Wonder if still would be operational that would be a cool tourist attraction steam train through some Bush
    • Jeff FournierTo restore this engine would likely cost 1-2 Million $ and the operational/maintenances costs on top of that!!! Prohibitive. But as a static display, that would be doable for sure - and for much, much less. I hope this happens.
  • Ted DoucetteThis train Going Nowhere and like many things in our city it will end up at a scrap yard . Perhaps it should be sent to Capreol where it could be refurbished Im very surprised it was not stripped and painted up like the old Chief was 
  • John MasseGateway to the north has become a speed bump 
  • Cecelia Mckenzie This should definitely be moved to the Museum area. I believe there are some folks working on restoring it. Many towns & cities have refurbished their old engines, etc & they have become part of the attractions to their City. Hopefully we will not see this rot away or be destroyed like our city has done to so many other historic buildings, etc. Wake up North Bay....stop taking away our history.!!!
  • FrankandMarti LefebvreIt should be cleaned up, and put out on display where it will be seen. Parents can show little ones and compare it to Thomas the Train they know about from their children storybooks and toys.
  • Edith Benoit In my opinion nothing will be done to preserve this important part of our heritage unless a group of people who are truly concerned about it and have the 'intestinal fortitude' to formulate a plan, raise money and the largest hurdle deal with the lack
    • Bob Bourke Edith Benoit. You are right to point out the significance of this locomotive. Money is tight in the City but a larger perspective on the value of heritage is needed. North Bay has citizens with a strong appreciation of where we came from. Hopefully, the City can partner with and encourage a citizen group to take on the effort to preserve this unique relic of North Bay's history.

Use the Contact Form to add your two cents as we develop rail-related stories for the inaugural print edition Sept. 1 or email: [email protected]

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