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 – Tower Inn Terminal

I’m working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*. Here’s one showing an overview of the compact interurban terminal in Niagara Falls:

Tower Inn Terminal

NS&T 135, 134, 130 – Niagara Falls. Lloyd G Baxter Photo – July 1940.

This image also appears on page 55 of the revised John Mills book on the NS&T, which is where I found the captioning information. That book (which I highly recommend) notes the photo was taken from the station’s observation tower, about two months before the terminal was forced to close to make way for a highway (the Queen Elizabeth Way) and a bus terminal. In this photograph, track one (at the right) is buried under materials that will be used to build the highway.

Despite the sad subject of this photo – the impending closure and destruction of one of the most handsome terminals ever to grace an interurban railway in Canada – there’s a lot to see in this picture. I particularly like how it shows off the roofs of three of the NS&T 130-series cars – classic, handsome wooden heavyweights that held down the boat train assignments between here and Port Dalhousie. (I’ve shared plenty of photos of this series elsewhere on this blog – and have more to share as time allows.)

I’m also intrigued by the freight car standing on a spur at upper left: I’m not sure what those tracks were used for. Perhaps they were team tracks? Or perhaps the railway is delivering the materials that will be used to pave over this piece of interurban glory…

*Earlier this month, I joined my friends Jeff Young and Peter Foley on a visit to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to do a dive into the astonishing Andrew Merrilees Collection. (Thanks to both gentlemen for helping to make my first visit to the archives a successful and enjoyable journey of discovery.)

Drawing on a finding aid compiled by Ottawa-area railway historian Colin Churcher, I tracked down and copied numerous photos of the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway and its predecessor lines. As part of the Merrilees collection at LAC, these are free to distribute with proper attribution, so I’ll be sharing my findings on this blog as time permits. To that end, I’ve created the Andrew Merrilees Collection category, so readers may find all posts related to this incredible archive of railway history.

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…

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 134 & 131 – St. Catharines, 1943

I’m rarely certain when photographers took the images in the collection of Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – but in this case, it was easy to pin down, as a note on the back of the photo included the date:

NS&T 134-131- St Catharines May 23, 1943

NS&T 134 and 131 – St. Catharines, May 23, 1943. RT Vincent photo.

(A cropped version of this photo appears in the second book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen.)

I do like these big wooden cars in the 130 series. At this time, they would be operating in boat train service from Port Dalhousie East (on the Grantham Division) to Niagara Falls. Here, they’re on Welland Avenue at Geneva Street, heading east towards the photographer from the NS&T car barns a few blocks to the west. They’ll shortly reach the terminal, behind the photographer and on the right (north) side of Welland Avenue, to begin their working day.

Here’s a more recent look at the same corner:

Welland Avenue west from Geneva St. GSV

Welland Avenue, looking west from Geneva Street, St. Catharines – Google Street View 2017

It’s easy to identify the building with the peaked roof, at left, in both photos. The buildings to the right of the interurban have been torn down: They would’ve been just behind the car in the left-turn lane.

Of note in the 1943 photo is the group of boys on the corner at left – doing what kids do: hanging out. Kids appear in many of the photos I’ve shared via this blog. It seems that if there’s a train on the street, there will be kids on the street watching it…

NST 132 + 134 – Welland Avenue car barns

I’m rarely certain when photographers took the images in the collection of Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – but in this case, it was easy to place:

NS&T 132 and 134 - Welland Avenue Car Barns

NS&T 132 and 134 – St. Catharines, September 14, 1947. Photographer unknown.

A note on the back of the photo identifies this as “The day after Boat Train Service was cancelled”, which lets me peg down the date. Cars 132 and 134 were regulars on this service between Port Dalhousie East (Michigan Beach) and Niagara Falls. Here, their duties done, they’re slumbering in the Welland Avenue equipment yard. Note that 132’s roll sign says “Toronto Boat”. (The 134 was last headed to “CNR Depot”.)

The photographer is looking west at the open yard tracks. Welland Avenue is to the right, while the building visible between the cars is on Court Street.

Both of these cars were originally built by Preston in 1914, as combines. At some point, Car 132 was rebuilt for single-operator service and clad in steel, with its upper sash windows plated over. I don’t have a date for that retrofit, but the revised John M. Mills book on the NS&T includes a photo of Number 132 in steel taken December 1939 donut was prior to that.

Car 132 was scrapped in April 1949, while Car 134 met the scrapper in 1950.

NS&T 130 – Thorold layover spur

On the south side of the station in Thorold, the NS&T had a short layover track – a spur to hold passenger trains working the Welland Division between Thorold and Port Colborne. Here’s a photo of it, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 130 - Thorold

NS&T 130 – Thorold. Photographer and date unknown.

This is a lovely, atmospheric photo. It’s either raining – or has recently. Both poles are down so the car will be here for a little while, awaiting its trip south. The marker flags have been set for the next run. I like the mix of styles evidenced by the houses behind the car. The structure in the distance at right is the NS&T freight shed: The main track passes to the right of it, then through the small freight yard with track scale and onto Substation Junction.

I do like these 130-series wooden cars, and I’ve shared several photos of them. Of interest, NS&T passenger equipment wore a number of paint schemes throughout their lives. In a post earlier this week, Car 130 appears in a much-faded version of the all-red scheme. It wore the same scheme when captured at the Welland depot.

Even though the photo in this post is black and white, it’s clear that the car is wearing the cream over red seen on the cars in my post about the siding at Woodruffs. As mentioned in an earlier post, the NS&T repainted this car into the cream-over-red scheme sometime between July 24/48 and August 24/52.

NS&T 130 – Thorold Yard

In a post I published yesterday, I mentioned the NS&T’s freight house and section house in Thorold. Here’s a better look at the latter, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 13 - Thorold Yard

NS&T 130 – Thorold yard. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken looking north: Car 130 is headed southbound through the yard south of the Thorold station. For those who want to know more about the 130-series, I’ve shared several photos of them previously on this blog. What I’ll add here is that I browsed through some of my NS&T books, noting dates of photographs, and the NS&T repainted this car into the cream-over-red scheme sometime between July 24/48 and August 24/52.

The section house – or speeder shed – is the white building at the left. Just behind Car 130, also to the left, is a small white building: that’s a railway track scale, used for weighing cars loaded by nearby customers. Given the number of industries in the Thorold area, it’s not surprising that a scale would be located here. Note the light on the pole to the left of the scale house, to help crew read the reporting marks on cars as they’re being weighed.

Between the speeder shed and scale house, a portion of the out-of-service second Welland Canal can be seen.

To the right of Car 130, in the foreground, there’s a second track for the freight yard and a spur. A reprint of the 1938 Employee Time Table suggests the spur serves “A Martin & Son”, a lumber, mill work and coal dealer. The white building in distance, where the track curves to the left, is the NS&T freight house in Thorold. It did not have a siding: packages were transferred from express cars or combines directly off the main track.

With its compact yard, collection of railway buildings, and proximity to a water feature, Thorold is very modelgenic – yet also practical to model. It’s high on my list of places to incorporate into any layout I build based on the NS&T…