As 1/2 Newfie, who spent many summers (even some college in St. John's), it's a delight to see Newfoundland through the eyes of an American landed there for the first time! It's really an amazing place to visit, though, as you can well imagine, a tough place to live. My grandfather was a Labrador fisherman (as opposed to a "banks fisherman") who lived in an outport village 50 miles from St. John's.
I have visited every inch of the TCH many times. I have taken the Newfie "Bullet," the train that used to run the tracks on the right-of-way you have identified as abandoned. I grew up knowing Joey Smallwood (the premier after whom your ferry was named) personally, since he was a family friend.
I grew up in New York City!
Great log. Great story. Great pictures. Thank you for sharing.