NS&T 130 – Elm Street

There’s such a wide variety of designs for interurban cars that it’s hard to pick a favourite. But for a classic look, nothing quite compares to this image from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 130 - Elm Street

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

NS&T car 130 is working its way along Elm Street in Port Colborne. It’s running as a railfan special – note the “Special” in the destination sign in the front window. The arched side windows have been modified but it sports an attractive two-tone scheme.

While it uses trolley poles and not pantographs, this car just screams “Bob Hegge’s Crooked Mountain Lines” to me…

NS&T 83 – Substation Junction

Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway interurban car 83 was frequently recruited for fan trip duties and shows up in many of the images in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – such as this one:

NS&T 83 - Substation Junction

NS&T 83 – Thorold. Photographer and date unknown.

Here, a railfan special (note the white flags at the front of the car) is approaching the bridges over the Welland Canal in Thorold. The switch it’s on is for the east end of the passing siding at Substation Junction.

I like how close together everything is on the NS&T – like a model railway, in some respects. The headblocks for this switch are practically on that first bridge, and everything is on a grade.

Also, look at the number of people who are actually on the bridges in this scene. I count more than half dozen.

Car 83 is wearing CNR green, which means this photo was taken in the mid-to-late 1950s. By this time, the main line to Niagara Falls was long abandoned and this stretch of track would’ve reached across the Welland Canal just far enough to allow the NS&T to access the spur to Walker’s Quarry. This was normally the patrol of a freight motor with hoppers or drop-bottom gondolas in tow.

But the NS&T was very agreeable to taking the rail fans wherever they wanted to go… even if that destination was a gravel pit.

NS&T 83 – Geneva Street

Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway interurban car 83 was frequently recruited for fan trip duties and shows up in many of the images in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – such as this one:

NST 83 - Geneva at Queenston - St. Catharines

NS&T 83 – Geneva Street at Queenston Street – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

Car 83 is headed south on Geneva and has just arrived at the five-way intersection where Geneva, Niagara, St. Paul and Queenston come together. The photographer is standing on Queenston Street and shooting northwest. The car is running in extra service – note the white flags – and I’m guessing all those serious-looking gents are rail fans. (Perhaps they’re headed for lunch at the Queensway Hotel? It’s directly behind the photographer…)

I have shared many photos of Car 83 on this blog, but since it was such a well-photographed interurban the details are worth repeating:

The NS&T built Car 83 (as well as the second car to carry the number 82) in 1925. It had 72 seats and weighed 80,000 pounds. Interestingly, the NS&T built 83 not for itself, but for the Toronto Suburban Railway as that line’s number 107. The car came home to the NS&T in 1935 and was stored out of service. That changed with the demands placed on public transit by World War II. The car entered service on the NS&T in 1943, on trucks salvaged from NS&T Car 80 and 600-volt electrical equipment out of Car 133. Originally painted in the two-tone scheme, Car 83 was repainted in the mid-1950s into the CNR green scheme shown here. It was scrapped in 1959.

Geneva at Queenston - GSV

Geneva and Niagara Streets, from Queenston Street – St. Catharines. Google Streetview – 2017

While the NS&T is long gone, the intersection looks a lot like it did back in the 1950s. The same block of buildings stands, with different tennis. Even the parking lot to the north (right) is still there – although in the earlier view, it appears to be a car dealership.

This photograph was taken just east of the location where – on a different day – NS&T steeple cab 14 was caught hauling a boxcar to the factory on Phelps Street, which I shared in a previous post. The track in the foreground is the line along Queenston to Phelps Street.

NS&T at Martindale Pond

On the way to Port Dalhousie, after crossing 12 Mile Creek, the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway headed north along the side of Martindale Road. Before it could reach the port, however, it had to deal with another wet obstacle: Martindale Pond.

As illustrated in these photos from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, the NS&T surmounted this obstacle with a trestle:

NST 83 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 83 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

NST 622 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 622 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

NST 622 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 622 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

Martindale Pond is a small artificial lake near the shores of Lake Ontario created to permit navigation on the first Welland Canal. (It also served as the route for the second and third canals: remains of locks from those canals are still visible.) The NS&T – and Martindale Road – crossed the pond at a narrow bay that jutted to the west of the pond.

Martindale Pond - 1955 aerial photo

1955 aerial photo showing the Martindale Pond trestle, from the Brock University online collection.

(I’ve written previously about the 12 Mile Creek bridge and about the Canning Factory siding.)

As it approached the pond crossing, the Martindale Road swung further to the west – away from the NS&T – then crossed the pond on its own bridge. This provided an excellent vantage point for railfans to grab photos like the ones shown in this post.

Today, Martindale Road has been relocated to follow the roadbed of the NS&T and a new bridge exists where the trestle once was. The original alignment – now Old Martindale Road – is now a recreational trail.

Martindale Pond from the rec trail

Martindale Pond from Old Martindale Road. Google Street View – 2018.

In 1903, Martindale Pond was chosen as the site for the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course – a world-renowned rowing venue, and host to the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. It hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1970 and 1999, and the rowing competitions held as part of the 2015 Pan American Games held in Toronto.

NS&T – the bridge at 12 Mile Creek

Holiday-makers headed to Port Dalhousie for a day at the beach left from downtown St. Catharines, took the Louisa Street cut-off to Woodruffs siding, then slipped downgrade behind the McKinnon Industries plant to cross 12 Mile Creek – so named because the mouth of this waterway on Lake Ontario is located approximately 12 miles west of the Niagara River.

Here are some photos of the bridge over 12 Mile Creek – from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 83 - 12 Mile Creek

NS&T 83 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T 83 - 12 Mile Creek

NS&T 83 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

These two views were likely taken on the same day, during an enthusiast fan trip. While I can’t confirm the date, the revised book by John Mills includes several photos of Car 83 taken on September 8, 1957 – including a Robert Sandusky picture at this bridge. (In fact, it’s quite possible the top photo is his picture, as there’s a shot in the Mills book that appears to be this photo, but cropped.)

NS&T 83 is outbound in these photos, headed towards the photographers and towards Port Dalhousie. The white flags show it’s running as an extra movement – not on the schedule – which supports the theory that this is a fan trip.

The line to Port Dalhousie was built in 1901 – so presumably, this is when the bridge was constructed.

Aerial photo - 12 Mile Creek bridge and environs

1955 aerial photo showing the 12 Mile Creek bridge, from the Brock University online collection.

When the line to Port Dalhousie was built, 12 Mile Creek was no longer part of the Welland Canal: As part of the construction of the Third Welland Canal in the 1880s, the route was changed to cut diagonally southeast from Port Dalhousie. But there must’ve been traffic upstream of this bridge – or at least, the potential for it – because it was built as a swing bridge.

NS&T 620 - 12 Mile Creek

NS&T 620 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

This photo is a good illustration of the method used for supporting the overhead wire where the swing bridge meets the approach.

NS&T Bridge - 12 Mile Creek

NS&T Bridge at 12 Mile Creek – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

This image provides a good look at the central pier, and the rollers upon which the bridge would’ve turned. The abutment on the far (east) bank features a stone column to the right of the steelwork that would prevent the bridge from rotating clockwise. Based on this, the bridge would’ve rotated counter-clockwise to clear the river for traffic. However, it hadn’t been opened for many years by the time these photos were taken.

I’m not sure when the bridge was removed, although it was gone when I lived in St. Catharines in the 1980s. However, the central pier is still in place – a reminder of the days when St. Catharines visited the beach under wire…

12 Mile Creek - NS&T bridge - GSV

Central pier, NS&T bridge over 12 Mile Creek. Google Satellite View – 2018

(Today, 12 Mile Creek is a fast flowing, dangerous river with undertows and turbulent currents. Over the years, many people have drowned trying to shoot the rapids in this area.)

On the west side of the creek, the line climbed a hill to reach Martindale Road.

NST - Looking east towards 12 Mile Creek bridge from Martindale Road

NS&T Port Dalhousie Line – Martindale Road

In the above image, the photographer on the west side of 12 Mile Creek. He’s standing at the top of the grade, looking southeast down the grade towards the bridge. At the bottom fo the grade, just before the bridge, a spur left the main track and headed south along the west side of the water to Welland Vale. The roadbed from here to Welland Vale is now a recreational trail.

There was another bridge on the line to Port Dalhousie that was popular with railfan photographers – and I’ll share some photos of that bridge in a future post.

NS&T 14 – Welland Avenue yard

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway had many homebuilt pieces of equipment – but it also rostered a few catalogue models from major builders. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 14 - Welland Avenue yard

NS&T 14 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T freight motor 14 is resting in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barns in St. Cathrines.

General Electric built this attractive unit in 1914. The NS&T rebuilt it in 1943, and it was scrapped in 1960. Of all the freight motors that lasted until the end of electrification, it was the lightest at 40 tons. It’s shown here in the CNR’s attractive green scheme. I love the collection of tanks and pipes next to the right-hand hood.

Number 14 was a popular motor on the NS&T, as it appears in many photographs. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any model of this locomotive available in S scale. (It has been done in HO and O, however.)

In S, William Flatt offered a model of NS&T 20 (nee South Brooklyn Railway 6) – another GE steeple cab – but at 55 tons it’s considerably heavier and differently proportioned.

NS&T buses – Welland Avenue yard

The shop forces for the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway were a talented bunch – and parent Canadian National Railways came to rely upon them to maintain a wide variety of equipment. This included Canadian National Transportation Ltd buses – such as the two shown here, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I acquired earlier this year from William Flatt:

White Bus 255 - Welland Avenue car barns

CNTL 255 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

CNTL 255 is a “Visi-Coach” model built for the NS&T in 1952. It’s built to a design from the Flxible (sic) Company in Ohio, distributed in Canada by the White Motor Company of Montreal. Buses 255 and 256 were the last of the cruiser style coaches acquired new by the NS&T.

Brill Bus 152 - Welland Avenue car barns

CNTL 152 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

CNTL 152 was part of a 15-bus order from Canadian Car & Foundry, which entered the bus market in the 1945 by establishing a plant in Fort William, Ontario. CC&F licensed the design for this bus from the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia.

(This isn’t the first time a bus has shown up on this blog. For a photo in colour, check out NS&T 14 – five at Thorold Station.)

In addition to its railway operations, the NS&T ran a fleet of buses in the Niagara Region, starting as far back as 1929. Over the years, these included city buses, sight-seeing and charter operations, and highway services. The NS&T was the first component in the CNR system to adopt buses, and the railway maintained buses for itself and several other operators under the Canadian National Transportation Limited umbrella at the Welland Avenue car barns.

(There’s a lot more information about the NS&T and Canadian National Transportation Limited in the revised book by John Mills.)

Eventually – inevitably – buses would take over completely. The transit services provided by the NS&T evolved into the St. Catharines Transit Commission, providing services in St. Catharines and Thorold. Today, this operator has a headquarters and maintenance garage on First Street Louth (west of 12 Mile Creek) and the Welland Avenue car barns were razed in the early 1960s to make room for a strip mall.

Back to the trains in my next post…

NS&T 41 (green) – Welland Avenue yard

In a previous post, I shared a couple of photos of Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway express motor 41 at the Welland Avenue yard in St. Catharines – in a red paint scheme. In its final years, this motor wore a handsome CNR passenger green – as seen in these pictures from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

NST 18 and 41 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 18 and NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

There was always a wide variety of equipment in the car barn yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. Tomorrow, I’ll share a couple more photos of equipment that called the yard home – at least, in later years…

Plotting the NS&T schedule

As I mentioned last week, I recently acquired a copy of NS&T Employee Time Table 61 effective May 13th 1945. One of the things I discovered while reading through it was that 78 scheduled trains passed through Thorold each day.

NS&T - Thorold Station - 1 of 5

NS&T Thorold Station. Photographer and date unknown.

These included two routes – the Niagara Falls Sub (main line) and the Welland Sub. The Niagara Falls Sub ran between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, passing through Thorold en route. The Welland Sub ran between Thorold and Port Colborne, passing through Welland.

NST 135 & 132 - Substation Junction

Main Line train: NS&T 135 & 132, Substation Junction 1943 – photographer unknown.

NST 130 - Thorold

Welland Sub train: NS&T 130, Thorold – Photographer and date unknown.

Obviously, an interurban car working either of these routes would cover the route several times n both directions over the course of a day – which led to my next question: How many trains would be on the line to cover such a schedule? (The question for modellers is related: How many pieces of rolling stock are required to cover it?)

To answer that, I sat down on the weekend with graph paper, a ruler and coloured pens and drew a timeline for a typical weekday schedule. (Those who have set up a layout for operations might know this as a String Diagram). Here’s what I found:

NST - 1945 - Schedule - Plotted

1945 NS&T schedule interpreted as a String Diagram

You can right-click on the string diagram and open the image in a separate tab to see a larger version of it, but what I learned is that at a minimum, it requires four trains – two for each division – to cover 24 hours of passenger service through Thorold. At least some of the Niagara Falls trains could be run with two cars, as shown in the first photo in this post – so a modeller may want six pieces of equipment. In addition, there are a couple of other scheduled trains that do not follow the routine – they cover part of a line, then (I assume) deadhead to return to the car barn. So, there’s room for a seventh car, if desired.

I do not know if cars were pulled from service after a certain number of runs in the day, and new cars swapped. Obviously, the crews were – the lines ran from 5am to 2am.

The string diagram also tells me more about how Thorold worked – from a passenger train perspective. The Welland Subdivision car would arrive first, from the south, and take the layover siding (seen in the second photo in this post). Then, a main line train heading eastbound (from St. Catharines) would make its station stop. The main line train would then leave headed east (for Niagara Falls, with the Welland Sub train following it. The main line train would continue east at Substation Junction, while the Welland Sub train would head south to Port Colborne. The main line train would cross the Welland Canal and meet its westbound counterpart on the east side, at a siding called Shriners.

The schedules were set such that a person arriving at Thorold on the northbound Welland Subdivision train would be able to make the connection to the main line train with relatively little waiting: a four-minute wait for an eastward train to Niagara Falls, and a 15-minute wait for the westbound headed to St. Catharines. Those headed from St. Catharines to Port Colborne would also be well served: Their southbound train would be waiting when they arrived at Thorold, and they’d have seven minutes to board. What about those those travelling from Niagara Falls to Port Colborne? Their two trains would meet at Substation Junction, where – I believe – passengers would be able to scoot across the inside corner of the wye.

It sure didn’t leave much time for freight…

NS&T - Thorold Station - 4 of 5

A quick switch: NS&T 14 at Thorold Station. Photographer and date unknown.

… but freights and other extras did manage to squeeze in between the parade of trains, making for a very busy day in Thorold.

NS&T 41 (red) – Welland Avenue yard

In yesterday’s post, I shared an image of Niagara St. Catharine & Toronto Railway number 41. Here are a couple more views of that express motor from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

In these two views, NS&T 41 is resting in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barn in St. Catharines.

Number 41 was built by the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtalbula in 1917 as its number 60. The NS&T acquired it in 1927 and undertook a significant rebuilding of the car. It was originally a wooden car, but later received steel sheathing.

Number 41 survived in red paint at least until 1952: it was painted into green sometime before 1957, and withdrawn from service in 1958.

I don’t know its ultimate fate, but I assume – like most of the NS&T equipment – it was scrapped sometime after the power was shut off in 1960. This express motor was part of the famous “funeral procession” photographs – depicting a string of equipment headed for scrap, led by NS&T 20, in 1959.