NS&T 83: Louisa Street

On this blog, I’ve shared many images of Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway number 83. It was a popular interurban car for excursion service. This time, I have one of my favourite photos of this car – found among the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 83 - Louisa Street

NS&T 83 – St. Catharines. Robert Sandusky photograph, 1956.

Here, NS&T car 83 is headed eastbound on Louisa Street at Henry Street, on – you guessed it – a fan trip. It’s returning from Port Dalhousie and is a few minutes east of the bridge at 12 Mile Creek, and the siding at Woodruffs.

I was certain I’d shared this photo before, but I can’t find the post. No matter – it’s worth sharing again. I love the combination of big interurban car on a tree-lined residential street. And as I’ve mentioned previously on this site, I used to walk Louisa Street to get to high school. Granted, that was three decades after this photo was taken, but at the time the track still existed, and still hosted short CNR trains moving freight cars to and from the General Motors (nee, McKinnon Industries) plant on Ontario Street.

Louisa at Henry - Google Street View 2014

In the above image, Google Street View cameras have captured the same location in 2014. The track is long gone by this point. But the houses haven’t changed all that much over the intervening decades.

The personal connection with trains in the pavement at this location means I would love to be able to include a segment of Louisa Street running on any NS&T layout I build.

St. Catharines Freight House

In an earlier post, I asked readers for photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway freight house in St. Catharines. Thanks to some detective work from Aaron White on the NS&T Facebook group, I now have a couple of images I can share. As a point of reference, I will include the 1923 fire insurance map for this area further down…

The first photo comes from a collection recently acquired by the Niagara Railway Museum:

NST-StC-FreightHouse

The photographer is obviously using slow film, as the photograph is quite blurred. He’s either aboard a moving train, or paused while crossing Welland Avenue to shoot this photo.

The picture shows the freight house on the right, on the far side of Niagara Street. A freight shed extends behind the brick structure.

To the left of the tracks, a tower controls the interlocking here. This interlocking includes the yard throat in the foreground that leads to the passenger terminal (behind the photographer), the line curving away at right that enters Welland Avenue and heads towards the car barn, and the city line that curves away to the left, onto Niagara Street.

(The Niagara Railway Museum is a great place to spend a bit of time online. Its website hosts a number of photo galleries, including one on the NS&T. Why not have a look… and plan to visit the museum this summer?)

The second photograph is via the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre, with permission from Adrian Petry:

NST-StC-FreightHouse

I’ll get to the story of the photograph in a moment – but I want to focus on the freight house itself: the brick building in the background. To the right of the building, one can see some boxcars standing in front of the freight shed that extends from the back of the brick structure. And of course, there’s that overhead crane – which is part of the team yard adjacent to the freight house.

The freight house faces Niagara Street, and the NS&T mainline passes on the far side of it. Where the NS&T crosses Niagara Street, one can see the striped crossing gates. To the left of the street, one can spot the interlocking tower that controlled this area on the railway.

Here’s the story of the second photograph, from the St. Catharines Museum’s Facebook page

Lightning Fastener Co. Ltd., 1925
(50 Niagara St. (cor. of Davidson St.), built 1925)

Early versions of fasteners were developed and patented in the United States, most notably in 1851 by Elias Howe and in 1893/1905 by Whitcomb L. Judson. However, it was the Swedish-American Gideon Sundback (photo upper right, facing left), who is credited as the “Inventor of the Zipper.” He not only designed the first successful slide fastener (later referred to as the modern zipper), with a system of interlocking teeth and scoops, but also developed a machine in 1913, later improved upon, for mass-producing his invention.

Seen here is the cornerstone laying ceremony for Sundback’s new Lightning Fastener building in St. Catharines, 1925.

(The museum has a lot of great information available. In addition to its Facebook page, you can find the museum on Twitter and Instagram by using @stcmuseum. Enjoy if you visit!)

As promised, here’s a map of the area. The green arrow points to the freight house / shed. As the photographs and map show, there are spurs on both sides of the structure.

NST-StC-FreightShed-Map

I’m excited by these two photographs because they confirm what I remember of the freight house, from seeing it as a young railfan back in the 1980s. I’m equally excited that there’s a decent stand-in model available for this freight house in S scale – thanks to my friend Barry Silverthorn, no less.

Before he launched TrainMasters TV, Barry ran Grand River Models, which produced a handful of delightful craftsman structure kits in 1:64 – including the Prince Edward Express Company:

GrandRiverModels - PrinceEdwardExpressCo

No, it’s not an exact model. But yes, it’s darned close. And I happen to have one, plus a couple of extra freight shed extensions that I can use to lengthen the structure.

The Niagara St. yards are looking like a better modelling subject all the time!

Looking for photos: St Catharines freight shed and power house

I’m looking for photos of two key structures on the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway in St. Catharines.

The first is the NS&T’s freight shed on Niagara Street. It’s indicated by the arrow in this map:

NS&T Freight Shed - Map

I believe this building was later part of a lumber yard in this location, but I can’t remember. If you have more info, I’d love to hear from you.

The second is the NS&T’s substation / power house across Welland Avenue from the terminal. It’s indicated by the arrow in this map:

NS&T power house - Map

On the off chance that you stumble across this blog and you have photo of one or both of these buildings – in any era – please let me know via the comments. Thanks in advance!

NS&T gallery (Old Time Trains)

Looking for more photos of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway? The Old Time Trains website has an extensive gallery online.

It’s spread across five pages, but you can start with the first page (including links to all the others) by clicking on this terrific image of a pair of NS&T 130-series wooden interurbans in boat train service:

NST 130-series - Old Time Trains

Victoria Avenue at Roberts Street, Niagara Falls. Jim Shuman photo, July 7, 1946

Enjoy if you visit!

NS&T 17: Houtby’s Siding

The photograph below is a pretty exciting one for me. It changes how I’m thinking about my potential model railway, based on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway.

NS&T 17 - Houtby's

NS&T 17 at Houtby’s Siding. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo is courtesy of the Niagara Railway Museum, which recently acquired a large collection of photographs. I’m grateful to Aaron White for giving me permission to share it here.

Number 17 and its short freight are in the hole at Houtby’s – at Milepost 2.33 on the Port Dalhousie line. It’s facing north, but it’s likely waiting to back south along the west side of 12 Mile Creek to serve customer(s) at Welland Vale.

To the left of the freight motor, one can see the bridge over 12 Mile Creek and – to the left of that, up the hill – the back of the McKinnon Industries complex on Ontario Street.

Aerial photo - 12 Mile Creek bridge and environs

1955 aerial photo showing McKinnon Industries, Welland Vale and Houtby’s Siding, from the Brock University online collection.

I’m thrilled to have seen this photo because it provides me with an example of the traffic that was hauled across the creek to the west bank. I am very keen on modelling the operations along Ontario Street, but was worried that McKinnon Industries would dominate the freight movements. This photo gave me reason to explore more of the freight workings on the Port Dalhousie division – perhaps I could add Welland Vale to a layout to boost the switching opportunities?

My reprint of the 1945 Employee Time Table includes a list of tracks outside yard limits on the Port Dalhousie Division, which is helpful in determining switching opportunities on this line:

NST - Port Dalhousie track list

(Note the mileage is measured from Port Dalhousie in this time table, so the MP given for Houtby’s is different.)

I like that the line also includes a couple of team tracks and canneries. (I wrote about the Canadian Canners spur at MP 0.86 and the Cannery Siding at MP 0.99 in an earlier post on Port Dalhousie and Lakeside Park.) Looking at the sidings chart above – and keeping in mind that the Port Dalhousie Division was a busy passenger line until about 1950 – has given me a lot more to think about.

Thanks again, Aaron!

“The First Shall Be Last”

Thanks to Hugh Jordan on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway Facebook Group for pointing out that noted Canadian railway photographer Robert Sandusky wrote a sweet capsule history of the railway for the Bytown Railway Society’s Branchline magazine back in April, 2009.

The PDF of the issue is available for free online. The four-page article – which includes an NS&T system map – begins on page 18. Click on this image from the article to start reading, and discover the meaning of this post’s title…

Carbarn-Sandusky Article

Enjoy if you visit!

(UPDATE: I’m told this link may not work for everyone. Sorry about that – it’s beyond my control.)

NS&T in the National Archives

I recently learned from noted Canadian railway historian Ralph Beaumont that the National Archives of Canada has – amongst its large collection of vintage railway photographs – many that show early scenes from the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. Here’s a small sampling:

NF Boat Train - Archives photo.

StC Freight House - Archives photo.

NS&T 40 - National Archives photo.

Port Weller Tower - Archives photo.

Freight switching - Archives photo.

The photos tend to be from an era well before what I would model. But still, it’s a valuable collection that I would love to explore. Clearly, a road trip is in order!

(Thanks, Ralph!)

NS&T 80 and 130 – Scanlon’s?

Here’s a lovely shot of open-country running on the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway, taken from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 80 & 130 - Scanlon's?

NS&T 80 and NS&T 130. Photographer and date unknown.

My notes for this image say it was taken “possibly at Scanlon’s”. According to my copy of the 1945 Employee Time Table, this was a nine-car passing siding between Fonthill and Welland, at MP 8.59 on the Welland Division. It featured spring switches at both ends to facilitate meets – such as the one shown here.

Car 80 was likely working in scheduled service on this day, while Car 130 was obviously in railfan service – note the white “extra” flags and “Special” in the destination sign. It’s likely this photo was taken the same day as two other pictures I’ve recently shared of Car 130 – at Humberstone and on Elm Street in Port Colborne.

NS&T 130 – Humberstone

In a post earlier this week, I shared an image of NS&T 130 from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. Here’s another look at this classic interurban:

NS&T 130 - Humberstone Siding

NS&T 130 – Port Colborne. Photographer and date unknown.

My notes for this image say this car is on “the Humberstone siding”. I’m guessing this is either the passing siding at the north end of Port Colborne, or the spur to the Robin Hood flour mill in that town. In any case, the photo was likely taken the same day as the one I shared in my previous post, in which case the 130 is running as a railfan special.

I do like how the two-tone scheme jumps off the green background of a summer’s day in Southern Ontario…