Moving Port Rowan’s online home

I’ve been having a lot of technical issues lately with my blogs. The biggest offender is my most popular one – Port Rowan in 1:64, on which I have written extensively (perhaps, too extensively) about my model railway.

The short answer is, I’m trying something new and that involves a new blog called “The Model Railway Show”. You can find it by following this link… (Yep: that’s correct)

If you like what you see, you’ll find several options for subscribing. Also, feel free to share the URL with others: The more the merrier!

If the new site works and the old site continues to cause me grief, I’ll retire the old site. I hope I’ll see you down the line.

If you’re technical and curious, here’s the deal…

Since I started blogging back in 2011, I have used a WordPress blog engine that resides on the server space I lease from my ISP. My ISP is great, but they’re not blog experts. And various technical issues have knocked one or more of my blogs offline or otherwise messed up my blogging life several times so far this year.

The latest issue is, I can’t get get into my Port Rowan in 1:64 blog to do anything administrative. I can’t make new posts, I can’t sign into the admin page, etc. Nothing.

Since this has been repeating issue, I decided I would try building a WordPress blog on the WordPress servers themselves. So far, so good. I’m busy importing and updating select posts from the old Port Rowan in 1:64 blog onto the new site, but also adding new content. I will not be adding any new content to the old site – obviously, since I can’t get into it.

Changing a pole at the end of the line

Back in the day, photographers typically focussed on roster shots: Clean, 3/4 views of equipment. It made sense, given that film was expensive. But it made for pretty static pictures that rarely told a story. Occasionally, however, a static composition would convey life on the line, as in this example – from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I acquired from William Flatt:

NST 82 and 130 - Port Colborne

NS&T 82 and 130 – Port Colborne, Ontario. Photographer and date unknown.

Car 82 is the in-service car and is having its pole changed. (I’m not sure why: Perhaps the wheel failed on it? I’m open to suggestions.) Car 130 is tucked in behind, ready to make the return trip north.

The photographer is standing on the west side of King Street, looking northeast. The track in the foreground is the Canadian National Railways Dunnville Subdivision between Brantford and Fort Erie. The CNR Port Colborne station is out of frame, to the right.

The black automobile to the left of Car 82 is on Princess Street, which then curves behind the cars and turns into West Street before crossing the CNR track, as the turquoise auto is doing.

NS&T Car 82 was built by the NS&T in 1925, for the Toronto Suburban Railway. It uses a standard underframe designed by CNR for its self-propelled diesel electric rail motors. As built, the car seated 72 passengers, was 61′-9″ long, and weighed 80,000 pounds. Car 82 was rebuilt in 1956 as an express motor, and was scrapped in 1959.

NS&T Car 130 was part of a series of heavyweight wooden cars – passenger cars 130, 131 and 135, plus combines 132, 133, 134. All were built by Preston in 1914. They were 58 feet long, with 64 seats, and weighed 75,400 pounds. They rode on 6′-6″ Taylor trucks. Sadly, none of the cars survived: The 131, 132 and 135 were scrapped in 1949. 133 met its fate in 1942 while 134 lasted until 1950. Car 130 was preserved in Sandy Pond, NY but allowed to decay.

NS&T 130 – Stop 25

In yesterday’s post, I noted the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway identified many of its stops on the Welland Division with black numerals in a yellow circle. Here’s another example – from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I acquired from William Flatt:

NST 130 - Dainsville

Dainsville is just south of the NS&T’s level crossing with the Canadian National Railways Cayuga Subdivision – used primarily by the Wabash to connect Buffalo and Detroit across Southern Ontario, and modelled at one time by my friend Pierre Oliver. The photo is looking south from the road crossing.

Here’s a map showing the Dainsville stop and the “Grand Trunk / Wabash Air Line”:

Stop 25 - Dainsville - Map

I believe the east-west public road to the north of the stop is Forks Road East, and the road to the east of the NS&T track, running south is Elm Street. Today, the NS&T right of way here forms a part of Trillium’s Port Colborne Harbour Railway. The passing siding and shelter are gone.

NS&T 620 – Southbound at Stop 21

Let’s head south a couple of stops from the photo in yesterday’s post, to Stop 21. Here’s an interesting look at the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto station at Welland – from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I acquired from William Flatt:

NST 620 - Southbound at Welland Station

NS&T 620 – Welland. Photographer and date unknown

This is an unusual photograph in that it’s taken looking south. Most other pictures at Welland are taken from the south, looking north from Maple Avenue to capture the front of the car in full sun.

I like a couple of things about this picture:

First, notice the black “21” in a yellow circle on the side of the station. This is the stop number and it’s interesting to see that the stops were so indicated, even on major structures like this. A 1950s era ticket from the Welland Division (reprinted on page 63 of the revised John Mills book), indicates that there are 28 stops between the Thorold station at the north and the Port Colborne station at the south. (There are obviously a few stops no longer in service: the numbers range from “3” at Beamer’s in Thorold to “35” at the Port Colborne depot.)

Second, note the CNR boxcar in the background at right. My map of the Welland Division shows two tracks behind the station:

NST Stop 21 (Welland) - Map

This photo confirms that at least one of those tracks is still in use.

NST meet at Stop 19, Welland

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto was a busy interurban with passenger and freight trains serving major cities in the Niagara Peninsula – but it also had its share of small vignettes that would be easy to model. Here’s an example, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I acquired from William Flatt:

NST 83 and 620 - Stop 19

NS&T 83 and 620 – Welland. Photographer and date unknown

This is the passing siding at Stop 19 in Welland. Car 83 is heading south towards the main NS&T station in Welland as it meets car 620 heading north towards Thorold. The photographer is standing at the Stop 19 shelter, just north of Thorold Road (Regional Road 538), looking north. Here’s a map:

Stop 19 - Map

My notes say that when the photo was taken, car 620 had recently arrived from the Montreal & Southern Counties, which likely dates the photo to 1956. The new car is likely running in excursion service, while car 83 is holding down the regular passenger service between Thorold and Port Colborne.

The RoW here now forms part of the Steve Bauer Trail – named after an Olympic cyclist born in St. Catharines. Here’s what the area looks like today:

Steve Bauer Trail - Stop 19

While the NS&T is long gone, it’s nice to know that one can at least cycle where the interurban ran – although, perhaps not as fast as Steve Bauer…

NS&T Troop Train – Welland Avenue

NST Troop Train - Welland Avenue

Here’s another photo from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada, which I visited in September, 2018. One of the NS&T’s early steeple cab locomotives is hauling a train of conventional (steam railway) heavyweight passenger cars along Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. This photo also appears in the revised John Mills book on the NS&T, where the locomotive is identified as either #1 or #7, and the train is identified as a troop train movement arriving from Niagara-On-The-Lake, circa 1916.

The train is a highly unusual one and not what comes to mind when I think of the NS&T. It’s not likely I would model it, or this early era. However, I do like a lot of things about this photograph.

I like the large trees at left, which will become a defining feature of the Geneva Street terminal when it’s built in the 1920s. (Have a look at this photograph to see what I mean.)

The NS&T also used metal towers to support the trolley wire in some places in St. Catharines and a couple of examples are shown here. They will be a challenge to model, and I’m not sure I will attempt it – although I suppose one could commission some photo-etches for them. I also like the glimpse of houses along the right side of the image. They offer some guidance for modelling residential structures along St. Catharines city streets – something I’ll be doing a lot if I decide to build an NS&T model railway!

The interlocking tower is interesting in that it’s located on the south side of Welland Avenue – and not on the north side of Niagara Street, as it is in later years. I assume the tower was moved south when the junction to the Lake Shore Division (to Niagara-On-The-Lake via Port Weller) was relocated from Welland Avenue to Niagara Street, around the time that the new terminal was built. It wasn’t a big move: The tower can be seen on Niagara Street in this view, taken from Welland Avenue:

StC Freight House and Niagara Street tower

(Click on the image to read more about it elsewhere on this site)

NST 19 – Merritton

NST 19 - Merritton Yard

NS&T 19 – Merritton yard. Photographer and date unknown.

Here’s another photo from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada, which I visited in September, 2018. NS&T freight motor 19 pauses while switching. The photo does not have any location data but I’m pretty sure this is the Merritton transfer yard so that’s how I’m labelling it. The photographer would have been standing on the station platform (a bit of which can be seen at the bottom of the image) and looking northwest. Number 19 is standing on the main track. At the far end of the yard (to the left of 19) there are a few freight cars, which appear to be standing on the scale track. (If someone can provide corrected info, I’ll update this post accordingly.)

Merritton yard was small but important, as the primary freight connection between the NS&T and the Canadian National Railways system. Cars left here by the CNR would be hauled up to the Niagara Street yard, which would feed various industries in St. Catharines.

The NS&T built Number 19 in 1925 as its first Number 16. It was sold, almost immediately it seems, to the Montreal & Southern Counties, where it wore Number 325. (Number 16 was then applied to a national Steel Car steeple cab acquired from the Queenston Construction Railway, which built one of the hydro-electric power canals in the Niagara Region). M&SC 325 returned to the NS&T in 1936 and was given the number 19. This 50-ton freight motor is of the same design as NS&T 8 and NS&T 15. (I have photo etches and detail parts from William Flatt to model all three.)

NS&T 10 and 62 – Welland Avenue car barn

Here’s a photo showing two interesting pieces of equipment:

NST 10 - Welland Ave Carbarns

NS&T 10 and NS&T 62 – Welland Avenue car barns, St. Catharines. Photographer unknown. May 20, 1932.

It’s time to get back to cataloguing and sharing images of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway in my collection. I found this photo in the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada, which I visited in September, 2018.

NS&T freight motor 10 is the primary subject. There are a couple of interesting details here. First, note that it has a wooden cab – the boards can be clearly seen above the windows on the cab end. Also note that it has a visor covering much of the headlight. This was common in wartime, particularly along the coasts: the visor was to make it more difficult for enemy warplanes to spot the locomotives from the air. But I haven’t (yet) encountered this elsewhere in my photos of NS&T equipment.

The revised John Mills book on the NS&T notes the railway built Number 10 from a flat car. It was given the number 603, and renumbered as 10 in 1920. Originally, it appeared in the classic “doghouse on a flat car” configuration, but it was rebuilt in 1924 and presumably that’s when it acquired the steeple cab configuration seen in this photo. This freight motor became the Cornwall Railway #8 in 1935, and was rebuilt as a plow in 1946.

Also interesting is Car 62 – parked to the right of freight motor 10. This is a 1912 Niles product – one of four originally built for the London & Lake Erie but acquired by the NS&T in 1915 and numbered 60-63. These interurban cars were 50’7″ long, weighed 58,960 pounds, rode on 6’6″ Baldwin trucks and had room for 54 passengers. The NS&T retired 62 in 1936 and scrapped it in 1942. The other three cars in the series remained in service until they were scrapped in 1947.

Vintage views of McKinnon Industries

Thanks to posters on The Vintage St. Catharines group on Facebook, I now have two period views of McKinnon Industries on Ontario Street in St. Catharines. This is one of the places on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway that speaks most strongly to me, as I spent my high school years living near the plant and encountering the CNR switch job that served it on an almost daily basis.

First, a photo taken in 1955:

McKinnon - 1955 Strike

This image was shot for The St. Catharines Standard newspaper during a major strike by General Motors employees in 1955. The building is on the east side of Ontario Street, and the photographer is looking roughly north: The foundry on the west side of Ontario at Carleton Street can be seen on the left edge of the photo in the distance.

According to several online sources, the union called this strike over frustration with the pace at which General Motors was implementing the terms of a five-year agreement negotiated in 1950. It was a long strike – lasting five months and involving 17,000 GM employees at several plants in southern Ontario. At the end, the workers received what they sought: A pay raise, more secure working conditions, and a health plan.

For me, this photo answers a couple of important questions. First, I know that I won’t be modelling this particular era – I’m sure the NS&T did not make any deliveries to GM on Ontario Street while a strike was going on. More importantly, though, I know that while GM acquired McKinnon Industries in 1929, the McKinnon name remained in use through the mid-1950s. I love this sign, because on a layout it would tell everybody, immediately, what they’re looking at.

Here’s another photo of McKinnon, taken in 1938:

McKinnon Industries - 1938 - Brock U

This one, from the Brock University collection, looks north up Ontario Street and shows the facilities on the west side of the street, including the foundry in the distance. What I like about this one is it clearly shows the location of the track along the west side of the street (in the 1980s when I saw this area first-hand, it had been relocated to the middle), plus the pole line that carries municipal power, power for the NS&T, and lighting for the sidewalk. It’s worth comparing this image to others that I’ve shared on this website in a post called “The Magic of McKinnon on Ontario.

HEPC: Freight Motor E21


While working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada in September, I found a number of images from the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway – operated by Ontario’s Hydro-Electric Power Commission.

As noted previously, this railway was a electric line that once operated in the Niagara Region – and which supplied a few freight motors to the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway.

One of these motors was E21. The HEPC acquired this Baldwin-Westinghouse 55-ton freight motor second-hand in 1919 from the Auburn & Syracuse Railway in New York State. It went to the Toronto & York Railway as its #2 in 1924 before ended up back in the Niagara Region in 1927, as the NS&T 18.

NST 18 - Welland Avenue Yard

NS&T 18 – Welland Avenue yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NST 18 and 41 - Welland Avenue Yard

NS&T 18 and express car 41 – Welland Avenue yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

When the wire came down in 1960, the CNR forwarded this freight motor to the Oshawa Railway as its #18. This freight motor was fortunate enough to go into preservation, when it was sold to an enthusiast and ended up at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1964. It’s still there today.

In the archives, I found a book of photos that also included information about each piece of HEPC equipment. I believe this book was an evaluation of the equipment for insurance or possibly sale purposes. Here is the page from that book that provides details of E21:

HEPC E21 Data

With this post, I think I have exhausted my material on the HEPC Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway. (If you missed any posts, you can find them all using the HEPC – Construction Railway category link.) I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at this short-lived yet interesting electrified construction railway in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula.