All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Glossary of Terms


Apron - A sheet of flat steel between a steam engine and its tender.


Ballast - Crushed gravel used to form a stable bed for rails and ties.Image of crushed gravel used to form a stable bed for rails and ties. Avondale, 2008 Ute Simon. 2008.


Boiler - A metal tank in a locomotive where water is converted into steam.


Bogie - Two pairs of wheels at either end of a railway car (also called trailer truck wheels).Photo of Bogie - Wheels at either end of a railway car.Ute Simon. 2008.


Caboose - The last car on a train where the conductor and trainmen ate and slept, if necessary.


Car - A railway carriage or wagon.


Carman - Crewman who repairs and inspects rail cars.


Combination train - A passenger train and mixed freight, also called "mixed train."


Conductor - Railway official in charge of a train.


Dispatcher - Person responsible for issuing train orders, messages, etc. The chief dispatcher was the person to whom all orders and messages were addressed and who had ultimate responsibility for seeing they were carried out.Photo of dispatcher Graham Hill, 1984 - responsible for issuing train orders. Graham Hill Collection. 1984.


Engine - A locomotive


Engineer - Locomotive driverImage of Engineer Arch McLellan, Corner Brook, 1948Clayton Cook Collection. 1948.


Extra gang - Men (supervised by a foreman) who worked at installing ballast, laying rail, or on work trains.


Fireman - Responsible for feeding the fire on a locomotive with coal and keeping the steam pressure up.


Firing - Feeding the fire on a locomotive to keep up the steam pressure.


Fish plates - See tie plate. plates and ties at the Avondale Railway Museum, 2008.Ute Simon. 2008.


Flag stop - A train stop designated by time table.Flag stop - Glenwood Station, late 1970's.Graham Hill Collection.


Packet - A packet is a vessel which operates a regular service carrying passengers, freight and mail.


Pony wheels - Front wheels of a steam locomotive.Baldwin locomotive No. 108 with 4 pony wheels in the front of the engine, c. 1900.CN Pensioners Collection.


Right of way - Land on each side of railway track.


Roadmaster - Person responsible for the safety of the trains in his assigned territory, e.g. maintaining roadbed and rails, ordering equipment, work trains, snow plows, etc.


Rotary plow - Plow with a large wheel which threw snow from the track.


Roundhouse - A building containing stalls for housing and for making repairs to locomotives or rolling stock.View of Roundhouse in Whitbourne, pre 1910.John Gosse Collection.


Sectionmen - Men who patrolled and maintained sections of track to ensure the safety of trains.Section crew, c. 1905.A.R. Penney Collection.


Siphoning water - Transferring water from a source (pond, river, water tank) by placing a hose in the water and pumping the water into the tank in the tender.


Sleeper - See "Tie"


Speeder - A heavy track motor car designed for transporting men and equipment.Dilapidated speeder car at the Avalon Railway Museum, 2008. Ute Simon.


Spikes - Track spikes were 5 1/2 inches long with chisel top.of track spikes - 5 1/2 inches long with a chisel top. 2009. Janet Story Collection.


Switcher - An engine used to move cars around the rail yard.


Switching - Moving locomotives and railway cars from one track to another.switch used to move train cars from one track to another.Wayne Greenland Collection.


Tender - Rear section of steam locomotive which carried water and coal or oil.Rear section of steam Locomotive No. 153 which carried water and coal or oil.c. 1912.A.J. Penny Collection.


Tie - A length of treated wood, usually fir or spruce, positioned on a ballasted roadbed to hold steel rails in place. Also called a "sleeper."


Tie plate - A steel plate used to keep the rails from turning over and spreading the track, and to prolong the life of the tie (also called fish plate).


Train order - Order given to a train’s crew, e.g. departure and arrival times, picking up cars.Photo of train order file. Each train had to be registered by train order.CN Pensioners collection.


Turntable - A circular revolving platform used to turn locomotives around.View of pivot of a turntable. A turntable is a circular revolving platform used to turn locomotives around. CN Pensioners Collection.


Water tank or chute - Made of wood, these held water for the steam locomotives. A hinged pipe attached to the tank was inserted and the water ran into a tank in the tender.Water Tank, c. 1900. Made of wood, water tanks held water for the steam of the locomotive.Clayton Cook Collection.


Wye - Tracks forming a triangle, used for turning engines around when no turntable is availableImage of Fort William Railway Depot, c. 1900.  Tracks forming a triangle or wye, used for turning engines around when no turntable was available.31.01.022 Coll-137, Archives and Manuscripts, QEII, Memorial University.