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 – 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 – In and around the car barn

The car barn on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines played a critical role in keeping the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway in business – from servicing the line’s equipment, to building new equipment, to maintaining electric railway equipment for other members of the CNR electric lines family. So I’m pleased to have a number of images of the car barn among the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. Here are a few examples:

NST83 - Carbarn interior

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

NS&T 83 slumbers in the car barn on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. I really like this photo – there’s just so much detail to absorb.

NS&T 83 + 620-series, car barn, St. Catharines

NS&T 83 + NS&T 622, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

This photo, taken from the west side of the car barn, shows a pair of “modern” NS&T passenger cars being serviced. Car 83 is on the left, while Car 622 is on the right. Car 83 is on the same track that’s occupied by Car 82 in this photo:

NST82 - Car barn

NS&T 82, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T 82 was built by the NS&T in 1925. It was to be the first of a series of 10 cars, but no others were built to its design. The 72-seat steel interurban was built on the standard underframe used for CNR self-propelled equipment. It was 61′-9″ long, weighed 80,000 pounds, and rode on 6′-6″ Baldwin trucks. Car 82 was rebuilt in 1956 for use in express service with the addition of freight doors, as seen in the above photo. It was scrapped in 1959.

The car barn was built by NS&T parent Canadian Northern (yes, Northern – a predecessor to the CNR) in the first decade of the 20th Century on land formerly occupied by a freight yard for the (steam-powered) Niagara Central Railway. By the mid-1920s, the Canadian National Railways had assumed ownership of the NS&T and other interurbans, and brought them together under the Canadian National Electric Railways operating unit.

CNER launched a modernization program which included the expansion of the car barn facility so that it could build equipment for all lines under the CNER umbrella – including the NS&T, the Toronto Suburban Railway, the Oshawa Railway, and the Montreal and Southern Counties. This shop also built and maintained battery powered and other self-propelled cars for the CNR. In addition to this work, in later years the talented mechanics on Welland Avenue also serviced the buses of Canadian National Transportation Limited. (In the photo of Car 82, it appears that the shop is doing this: note the lower-height door and lack of track in the right-most bay.)

The car barn occupied the east end of the block that’s now the home of the Midtown Plaza – running along the south side of Welland Avenue between Clark and Court Streets:

Carbarn - Aerial photo - 1955

NS&T – Car barn, Welland Avenue, St. Catharines – Aerial photo, 1955. From the Brock University online collection.

There’s a lot of activity in this space, and it’s a scene that would be satisfying to model as the photos in this post attest.

NS&T 16 – Thorold Yard

Over the past couple of days, I’ve shared a few photos of the NS&T in and around its small yard in Thorold, Ontario. Here are couple more from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – featuring a freight motor with a thing for covered hoppers:

NST 16 - Switching near Substation Junction

NS&T 16 – Thorold Yard. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken looking south, at the north switch of the small yard in Thorold. The photographer is on the west side of the tracks. The freight house would be behind him, to the left (east side) of the mainline.

NST 16 and NST 620 - Thorold

NS&T 16 and NS&T 620 – Thorold Yard. ND Clark photo*. Date unknown.

Here, NS&T 16 has paused in its switching to let passenger car 620 pass by, headed north towards the Thorold station. This time, it has one of CNR’s “slab side” covered hoppers in its care. We’re looking north this time, from the east side of the tracks, and the roof of the freight house can be seen at the right edge of the photo.

I’ve written about NS&T 16 before, and the 620-series cars have featured quite regularly on the blog, so I won’t repeat that information here. Instead, I’ll focus on the covered hoppers.

In both photos, the car that the crew is switching has probably just been loaded at Exolon, located a half mile southwest of the yard (between MP .77 and .98 on the Welland Division). According to The Welland Canals and their Communities: Engineering, Industrial, and Urban Transformation by John N. Jackson, Exolon – an American company named for the fused aluminum-oxide abrasive it produced – opened its Thorold plant in 1914 to take advantage of cheap hydro electric power. The plant received raw materials via canal, including petroleum coke and bauxite. It produced silicon carbide (“carborundum”) which it shipped to an Exolon plant in Tonawanda, New York. There, the material was crushed and graded, then sold for use in the abrasive paper, refractory and metal industries.

The crew is likely rolling the covered hopper over the small track scale located on the track closest to the canal. In the first image, the scale to the right, just out of the frame. In the second picture, it’s behind the covered hopper.

(*Subsequent to posting this, I found the same image – in black and white – in the second book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen. I’ve updated the caption accordingly.)

NST 623 – eastbound on Welland Avenue

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – and I thought I’d share some of the images that speak strongly to me about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. In yesterday’s post, I shared a photo of Car 83 on Welland Avenue. In that picture, the photographer was looking west. Here’s another photo, taken a bit further east on Welland Avenue, and looking east:

NST 623 from 83 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 623 on Welland Avenue, St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

Here, the photographer is riding inside NS&T 83, and has captured car 623 as it heads east on Welland towards Geneva Street. This is a typical street scene in St. Catharines at the time.

The brown building at left is the NS&T’s main terminal. Built in the 1920s, it had several tracks and used to be surrounded by stately trees, as shown in this earlier photograph that I shared. Obviously, this is taken later in the year – there are trees in the distance that are bare of leaf, and it has the greyness that suggests autumn. But it’s also clear that many of the trees around the terminal were gone by the time this photo was taken.

This railfan excursion likely occurred well after the NS&T ceased offering regular passenger service in St. Catharines. Note that part of the property along Welland Avenue behind the terminal is occupied by a car dealership. (I don’t know whether any of the platform tracks are still in place at this point.)

Still, there are many ideas in this photo that can be enacted on a layout – including the many signs (from the Sunoco gas sign, to the billboard, to the small “barber shop” sign with barber pole at the right edge of the image). There’s a great selection of automobile colours on display, too.

But it also gives me ideas about what I don’t want in a layout. Late fall can be an interesting season to model – but not in the city. It’s too drab. And tress in leaf can be used as view blocks. So that’s something to consider.

All in all, an interesting photo.

(EDIT – Nov 1, 2019: Looking at other photographs, I believe the subject of this photo is NS&T 623. I mis-identified it when I initially posted this. I’ve updated the post, but the caption on the photo is incorrect.)

NS&T 622 – Fonthill cannery spur

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – and I thought I’d share some of the images that speak strongly to me about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. In yesterday’s post, I shared a photo of NS&T 622 on Louisa Street in St. Catharines. Here’s another view of the same car – possibly taken the same day:

NST 622 - Fonthill - Canning Spur

NS&T 622 in Fonthill, Ontario – Photographer and date unknown.

It’s sometime between 1956 and 1959, because the 620-series cars were only on the NS&T for four years.

In this photo, there are two clues that the 622 is in excursion service. First, it’s running as an extra: Note the white flags. More tellingly, it’s on the cannery spur in Fonthill, which did not normally see passenger service. The NS&T had a reputation for accommodating railfans, and a lot of rare mileage was covered.

The cannery was located on Pelham Street at Hurricane Road. I imagine that it was pretty busy during the harvest season and there are a couple of tracks here, to allow a freight crew to easily swap empties and loads.

After the cannery shut down, the building was converted into a seniors residence…

NS&T 622 – Louisa at Catherine

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – and I thought I’d share some of the images that speak strongly to me about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. Here’s one:

NST 622 - Louisa at Catherine

NS&T 622 at Louisa Street in St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

The 622 was a 50-seat interurban built by the Ottawa car company in 1930 and acquired from the Montreal & Southern Counties – another CNR electric operation – in 1956. This series were the most modern cars ever to grace the NS&T, and all were scrapped in 1959. It’s barely visible, but the 622 has a CNR Maple Leaf on its flank.

The train is headed westbound and while it’s not flying extra flags, I’m sure it’s in excursion service. It has just come off Welland Avenue and skirted through an S-curve that brings it to Louisa Street. The cross-street here is Catherine (with an “e”, unlike St. Catharines, with an “a”). Catherine Street is important to me because that’s the street on which my high school was located. I would walk Louisa Street twice a day, Monday to Friday, during the school year. I would often meet a train on my walk – although by the time I went to high school, this was a freight-only, CNR line servicing the General Motors plant on Ontario Street.

There’s not much space between the houses here. On a layout, it would be an ideal, and very prototypical, way to have trains exit the scene to staging…