CNR – Thousand Islands Railway

Here’s another in an occasional series of ideas for achievable layouts – especially in the larger scales, such as S.

The Thousand Islands Railway ran a few miles from a junction with the Canadian National’s MontrĂ©al-Toronto mainline, south to the town of Gananoque* in eastern Ontario. Along the way it crossed the Gananoque River a few times, and terminated on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

There are some terrific photos of the line, plus a capsule history, on the Old Time Trains website. (Click on the photo below to visit.)
TIR 500 link to Old Time Trains photo TIR500_zps7337dab3.jpg

Of particular note is the motive power used on the line. It had to be small, so unique steam and diesel locomotives were deployed – including TIR 500, the diminutive centrecab most commonly associated with the line.

In the 1930s, the line ran seven round trips daily (four on Sunday) between town and junction. The schedule then started a slow decline from that peak, but passenger trains still ran until 1962.

There’s an excellent – but sadly out of print – 120-page book about transport in Gananoque by Douglas NW Smith:
TIR Book photo TIW-Book_zps1e320f3a.jpg

This contains a wealth of information about the railway, including several track maps and information about passenger service and freight customers. For example, a 1947 map of the Gananoque terminal shows a nine-switch track arrangement, serving a coal/wood yard, a second coal dealer, a number company, a mill, the Cow and Gate dairy, a two-stall engine house, a passenger station and adjacent freight/express building. The terminal is laid out along the waterfront, including a ferry ticket booth and wharf. Another map – from 1927 – shows more of the trackage through the town, providing the modeller with plenty of material to get started.

(Google Books has it catalogued, and copies occasionally turn up on eBay or via ABEbooks. Well worth adding to one’s collection, in my opinion!)

For another – unorthodox – view of what such a layout could look like, I was searching for online images of the railway and found this discussion on a group devoted to Microsoft Train Simulator. It includes several screen shots of a route designed by Paul Charland. Here’s a nice screen grab of Gananoque Junction, while this one shows TIR 500 leading a passenger train out of the downtown terminal. Paul reports that he used Douglas Smith’s book to help get the details right – and I think he’s done a great job. (Be sure to scroll through all of the pages of this thread if you visit it.)

In S scale, the same CNR combine I use for my Port Rowan layout – once available from Andy Malette at MLW Services – would make an excellent passenger train:
CNR Combine from MLW Services Kit photo CNR-Combine-Header_zpse6af9c7c.jpg

At one time, Jackie McNeil of Gananoque offered an HO scale set of etchings for TIR 500. I have a set of his etches for a GE 25 Ton end-cab loco in S scale, but I’m not sure if he ever offered the TIR 500 in 1:64. Regardless, Jackie wrote an article about building his HO scale model, which appeared in the May 1997 issue of Model Railroader magazine. This article includes etching templates for those wishing to create their own model, in any scale. Of course, one could substitute any small locomotive such as a GE 44 Tonner from Dan Navarre at River Raisin Models, a GE 44 Tonner or 70 Tonner from Jim King at Smoky Mountain Model Works.

Operation would be similar to what I’m doing on my layout – running a single train at a time to serve the passenger and freight traffic in small-town Ontario – with the added advantage of actually having a waterfront to model!

(*According to Wikipedia, one way to remember the pronunciation is to say, “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Gananoque”)