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 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.

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 – 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 83 – approaching the Welland diamonds

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, NS&T 83 was a popular car for enthusiast days and charters. The photo below, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, may have been taken the same day…

NS&T 83 - Welland (TH&B - MCRR Crossing)

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

NS&T 83 has stopped at a telephone shack just north of the interurban’s level crossing with both the Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway and the Michigan Central Railway (the New York Central’s operation connecting Buffalo and Detroit across southern Ontario). The crossings are out of the frame to the left, and the motorman (or possibly, the conductor) is returning to the car after phoning for permission to cross the railways so 83 may continue its trip south to Port Colborne.

The photographer is standing on Prince Charles Drive, facing northwest. In the background, the large industrial complex is Vesuvius Canada, which makes clay graphite crucibles for melting steel. According to the corporate history, the company has been around since 1916, although I don’t know when it set up shop on this site. It is still in business today.

To the left of Vesuvius, a Wabash boxcar is parked in the interchange yard between the NS&T and the TH&B.

A lot of changes have taken place here, and there’s a whole mess o’ trackage, so here are some aids:

NS&T Property Plan - Welland

NS&T Property Plan 1920 (revised CNR 1948) – Welland, Ontario.

NS&T Welland - Google Earth - Labelled

Welland from the air (Google Earth) showing NS&T, TH&B, and MCRR.

The yellow dot is the approximate location of the NS&T roundhouse and turntable noted on the Property Plan. Also, while not relevant to the photo of 83, I’ve sketched in the spurs to Imperial Oil and Commonwealth Electric.

The TH&B’s own trackage ended at the MCRR connection. It used MCRR trackage to reach Niagara Falls, where it crossed into the United States then headed south to Buffalo. With three lines converging and an elevated view from Prince Charles Drive, there are several photos of NS&T cars actually crossing the TH&B and MCRR, but this is one of the few I’ve seen that provides such a good view of the phone box.

(Thanks to members of the NS&T Facebook group for help information related to this image.)

NS&T 83 – Michigan Beach

As I work my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, it’s clear that Car 83 was a popular choice for railfan trips. Here’s an example, running rare mileage on the NS&T:

NS&T 83 - Michigan Beach

NS&T 83 – Michigan Beach. Photographer and date unknown.

Based on other photos taken of this car at this location, I’m pretty sure the date of this photograph is September 8, 1957. Car 83 is on an enthusiasts’ excursion trip on what is normally, by this time, a freight-only line.

Where the heck is Michigan Beach, you ask? It’s another name for the east side of the basin where 12 Mile Creek and Martindale Pond empty into Lake Ontario. It was also called Port Dalhousie East, as the boats from Toronto would exchange passengers here with NS&T Main Line trains to Niagara Falls, before turning in the basin to dock at the west side at Port Dalhousie, where Lakeside Park is located.

As the hopper car might suggest, there was a coal transfer operation on the Michigan Beach side of the water. Once the NS&T discontinued its boat trains, this 2.93-mile line – the Grantham Division – remained in operation for freight, as there were a number of customers along its path between Michigan Beach and the Geneva Street terminal downtown. Just northwest of the terminal, the 1923 St. Catharines Fire Maps show a major rail-served industry – Canadian Crocker-Wheeler Company – in the block between George and Catherine, south of Russell Avenue. This complex appears in 1955 aerial photos, although I don’t know what company is on this site at that time. Today, it’s the Catherine Street Park – and the NS&T Grantham Division that used to run past it is now the Terry Fox Trail…

(My thanks to members of the NS&T Facebook group, who helped me to identify the location.)

NS&T 83 – 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 NS&T 83 on a railfan excursion. Here’s another photo of this car in railfan service:

NS&T 83 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 83 eastbound on Welland Avenue – Photographer and date unknown.

There’s a lot to like about this photo. For starters, there’s the 83. It’s a handsome car – one that bridges the ears between the wooden heavyweights such as the NS&T 130-series and the modern steel cars of the 620-series. (I’ve written about examples from both of those series in previous postings. You can use the “categories” tool on the right side of the home page to find them.)

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.

The revised and expanded NS&T book by John M. Mills notes cars 82 and 83 were built on CNR under frames designed for their oil electric cars. Those cars had end doors for multiple-unit operation, which accounts for the flat faces of 82 and 83.

Beyond Car 83, there’s a lot of note in this photo. The kid on the bicycle is a nice detail. Not also the presence of what appears to be a switch stand on the far side of the sidewalk, to the right of the kid. I was intrigued by this so I went looking in my collection and found another photo of 83 in the same location – probably taken the same day:

NS&T 83 - Welland Avenue - another view

NS&T 83 eastbound on Welland Avenue – Photographer and date unknown.

Yep – it’s definitely a switch stand! But for what track? I went looking for more info in the Mills book referenced above. Here’s what I found:

– A photo of a freight entering Welland Avenue from Louisa Street (page 142).
– A photo of the two line cars parked on “line car siding, Welland Avenue” (page 41).
– A rough map of the lines in St. Catharines , which suggests there’s a short spur just east of the Louisa Street cutoff – probably the line car siding (page 44).
– A crossover between the two tracks on Welland Avenue – just east (ahead) of Car 83 in both photos.

Based on this, I’ve decided the house is at 133 Welland Avenue – directly across from Court Street. Look carefully, and one can see the stop sign at the end of Court Street at the left – in front of the large square brick wall. That wall is the east end of the NS&T car barn.

The Louisa Street cutoff leaves Welland Avenue to the east (right) of this photo, and the track passes through the trees behind the white house. And the switch stand? That’s for the line car siding. This siding was gone when I first encountered the former NS&T in the 1980s. It’s nice to discover the system had a special siding for line cars, back in the day: on a layout, it would make a great place to display some funky equipment.

NS&T 83 – Niagara Street & QEW

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 a railfan excursion. Here’s another railfan trip, with a different car:

NS&T 83 - Niagara Street at QEW

NS&T 83 on Niagara Street at the QEW, St. Catharines – date and photographer unknown.

There’s a good chance this image was taken July 29, 1956 – because there’s a black and white photo taken at roughly the same location in “Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Electric Railway in Pictures” by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen – one of four books on the NS&T in my collection.

The car is returning from a railfan trip to Port Weller, at the Lake Ontario end of the Welland Canal. It has just come off the bridge over the Queen Elizabeth Way – the major highway between Toronto and the Niagara Region, and named after Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (better known as The Queen Mother). The railing on the highway bridge can be seen between the 83 and the automobile to the right of it.

The buildings in the background are at a three-way intersection of Niagara, Vine and Facer Streets – which is the location of Duff’s Pizzeria. I used to go there with friends from high school some 30 years ago. More recently, I’ve had lunch at Duff’s with my friend and fellow railway modeller, Bob Fallowfield, who lives nearby. The place has not changed. Not one bit.