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.

NST 41 – Geneva Street Terminal (II)

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 of my findings:

NST 41 - Geneva St Terminal

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

I gave this post’s title the “(II)” addendum because it’s not the first time I’ve shared a photo of this freight motor at the main passenger terminal. Back in April, I shared another picture, reproduced below:

NS&T 41 - St. Catharines Terminal
(Click on the image for more information)

In both photos, the express motor is in a similar spot. It’s on one of the stub tracks. But the black and white picture that’s the subject of today’s post is obviously from an earlier time in the railway’s life, because there are still canopies over all the platform. In the colour photo, the canopies have been removed. (In fact, it looks like some of the through tracks to the right have also been pulled up.)

There are some neat details in this picture, including an electric light under the canopy – just to the right of the freight motor. That’s good to know for anybody interested in modelling this handsome yet little-used passenger terminal.

As always, you can check the categories menu on the home page for more posts about specific subjects – including Express Motor 41, the Geneva Street Terminal and The Andrew Merrilees Collection.

Two views of the car barn yard

I’m working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*. My findings included a couple of images taken from opposite ends of the main track that ran through the car barn yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines:

NST - Welland Avenue - Southwest

NS&T – car barn yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

A few days ago, I posted an image of NS&T 301 – and at the time, I was unsure of where the photo was taken. This image solved the mystery for me (and I’ve since gone back and updated that post). The unknown photographer is standing at the northeast corner of the yard on Welland Avenue, looking southwest along the main tracks that swing off the road and pass through the yard. The trespassing sign, switch stand and corner of the carbarn – at left – can clearly be seen in the photo of 301 linked to above.

I wish this photo was more clear, because there’s a lot going on in it. Just to the right of the car barn is a small shed and what could be a pile of sand. The barn leads are packed with equipment. What appears to be a 130-series car is preparing to leave the yard. This image also provides a good view of the fabricated metal poles used to support the overhead wires along parts of the NS&T.

To the right in the distance is the freight house that once stood on the property. I believe this dates from the days of the steam-powered St. Catharines and Niagara Central Railway. As noted elsewhere on this website, the NS&T’s freight house was located on Niagara Street.

NST - Court Street - Northwest

NS&T car barn yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

In this view, the photographer is standing on Clark Street and looking northeast into the car barn shooting along the main track, from the opposite direction of the photo above. This was possibly the same photographer, as one can see what appears to be a 130-series car on the main track (partially obscured by the trespassing sign). Again, there’s a lot of equipment in the yard.

At one time, the main track through the yard continued across Clark Street and down Raymond to James, forming one of the many loops through downtown St. Catharines. I don’t know when the railway lifted the track on Raymond.

For those unfamiliar with the car barn area, this St. Catharines fire map puts everything in perspective:

Fire Map - Welland Avenue car barns

*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 301 – Welland Avenue car barn

Here’s a terrific view of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway that I discovered last week in the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*:

NS&T 301

NS&T 301. Photographer and date unknown.

The photographer is shooting northeast alongside the north edge of the car barn on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. I love the motorman standing next to the front door of the 301 – perhaps waiting on his departure time. I also love that someone has stashed his automobile against the building – like a preferred parking spot – but quite the squeeze to make sure it doesn’t get sideswiped by a railway car.

NS&T 301 is a Cincinnati car, the class unit in the 301-312 series. These cars were built in 1926 by the Cincinnati Car Company, as kits – then shipped to the NS&T to be assembled. In this way, the railway avoided a punishing duty for cross-border shopping. These 31′-6″ cars each seated 44 passengers and weighed 32,700 pounds. Unfortunately, the steel parts were not treated to protect the cars from corrosion and several were scrapped in 1948.

According to the revised John Mills book, the remainder were retrofitted with 14-foot poles and trolley bridges (the little platform on the roof to allow the poles on shorter cars to reach the wire) and otherwise retrofitted for service on the Port Dalhousie line. Since the 301 is equipped with the trolley bridge (and since the destination sign reads “Port Dalhousie”), the photo was taken after 1948. Buses replaced the trolleys to Port Dalhousie on March 1st, 1950. All Cincinnati cars were eventually scrapped.

We can’t read the sign on the pole next to the 301 as it faces east – but it warns people that they’re about to trespass on NS&T property. I have a view of the front of that sign, which I’ll share in a future post.

*Last week, 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 17 at work on Welland Avenue

I’ve found many pictures of NS&T freight motor 17 at rest in the Welland Avenue car barn yard, but I’m always excited to find new (to me) views of it in service. Here are two that I came across last week, in the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*:

NST 17 - Train - Welland Avenue

NST 17 and train. Photographer and date unknown.

While I am not 100% certain where this photo was taken, I’m pretty sure it was shot on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines, between Geneva Street and the car barn yard. There was a section of double track here, which curved into the car barn yard. A quick search on Google Street View suggests the train – headed westbound – is about to enter the Welland Avenue intersection with Woodland Avenue: The bungalow in the image appears to still exist, on the northeast corner of this T-intersection. Many of the cars in this train would be headed to McKinnon Industries (General Motors) on Ontario Street, while others might be going to Welland Vale.

NST 17 - Train - Welland Avenue

NST 17 and train. Photographer and date unknown.

On a different day, NS&T 17 is headed westbound on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. This time, I’m pretty sure of the location: in the background, just ahead of the locomotive, one can see what I’m sure is the roof of the platform awnings at the Geneva Street Terminal. As with the first photo, this train is likely headed towards McKinnon and Welland Vale.

*Last week, 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 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.

St. Catharines Freight House

In an earlier post, I asked readers for photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway freight house in St. Catharines. Thanks to some detective work from Aaron White on the NS&T Facebook group, I now have a couple of images I can share. As a point of reference, I will include the 1923 fire insurance map for this area further down…

The first photo comes from a collection recently acquired by the Niagara Railway Museum:

NST-StC-FreightHouse

The photographer is obviously using slow film, as the photograph is quite blurred. He’s either aboard a moving train, or paused while crossing Welland Avenue to shoot this photo.

The picture shows the freight house on the right, on the far side of Niagara Street. A freight shed extends behind the brick structure.

To the left of the tracks, a tower controls the interlocking here. This interlocking includes the yard throat in the foreground that leads to the passenger terminal (behind the photographer), the line curving away at right that enters Welland Avenue and heads towards the car barn, and the city line that curves away to the left, onto Niagara Street.

(The Niagara Railway Museum is a great place to spend a bit of time online. Its website hosts a number of photo galleries, including one on the NS&T. Why not have a look… and plan to visit the museum this summer?)

The second photograph is via the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre, with permission from Adrian Petry:

NST-StC-FreightHouse

I’ll get to the story of the photograph in a moment – but I want to focus on the freight house itself: the brick building in the background. To the right of the building, one can see some boxcars standing in front of the freight shed that extends from the back of the brick structure. And of course, there’s that overhead crane – which is part of the team yard adjacent to the freight house.

The freight house faces Niagara Street, and the NS&T mainline passes on the far side of it. Where the NS&T crosses Niagara Street, one can see the striped crossing gates. To the left of the street, one can spot the interlocking tower that controlled this area on the railway.

Here’s the story of the second photograph, from the St. Catharines Museum’s Facebook page

Lightning Fastener Co. Ltd., 1925
(50 Niagara St. (cor. of Davidson St.), built 1925)

Early versions of fasteners were developed and patented in the United States, most notably in 1851 by Elias Howe and in 1893/1905 by Whitcomb L. Judson. However, it was the Swedish-American Gideon Sundback (photo upper right, facing left), who is credited as the “Inventor of the Zipper.” He not only designed the first successful slide fastener (later referred to as the modern zipper), with a system of interlocking teeth and scoops, but also developed a machine in 1913, later improved upon, for mass-producing his invention.

Seen here is the cornerstone laying ceremony for Sundback’s new Lightning Fastener building in St. Catharines, 1925.

(The museum has a lot of great information available. In addition to its Facebook page, you can find the museum on Twitter and Instagram by using @stcmuseum. Enjoy if you visit!)

As promised, here’s a map of the area. The green arrow points to the freight house / shed. As the photographs and map show, there are spurs on both sides of the structure.

NST-StC-FreightShed-Map

I’m excited by these two photographs because they confirm what I remember of the freight house, from seeing it as a young railfan back in the 1980s. I’m equally excited that there’s a decent stand-in model available for this freight house in S scale – thanks to my friend Barry Silverthorn, no less.

Before he launched TrainMasters TV, Barry ran Grand River Models, which produced a handful of delightful craftsman structure kits in 1:64 – including the Prince Edward Express Company:

GrandRiverModels - PrinceEdwardExpressCo

No, it’s not an exact model. But yes, it’s darned close. And I happen to have one, plus a couple of extra freight shed extensions that I can use to lengthen the structure.

The Niagara St. yards are looking like a better modelling subject all the time!

Looking for photos: St Catharines freight shed and power house

I’m looking for photos of two key structures on the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway in St. Catharines.

The first is the NS&T’s freight shed on Niagara Street. It’s indicated by the arrow in this map:

NS&T Freight Shed - Map

I believe this building was later part of a lumber yard in this location, but I can’t remember. If you have more info, I’d love to hear from you.

The second is the NS&T’s substation / power house across Welland Avenue from the terminal. It’s indicated by the arrow in this map:

NS&T power house - Map

On the off chance that you stumble across this blog and you have photo of one or both of these buildings – in any era – please let me know via the comments. Thanks in advance!

NS&T 17: Houtby’s Siding

The photograph below is a pretty exciting one for me. It changes how I’m thinking about my potential model railway, based on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway.

NS&T 17 - Houtby's

NS&T 17 at Houtby’s Siding. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo is courtesy of the Niagara Railway Museum, which recently acquired a large collection of photographs. I’m grateful to Aaron White for giving me permission to share it here.

Number 17 and its short freight are in the hole at Houtby’s – at Milepost 2.33 on the Port Dalhousie line. It’s facing north, but it’s likely waiting to back south along the west side of 12 Mile Creek to serve customer(s) at Welland Vale.

To the left of the freight motor, one can see the bridge over 12 Mile Creek and – to the left of that, up the hill – the back of the McKinnon Industries complex on Ontario Street.

Aerial photo - 12 Mile Creek bridge and environs

1955 aerial photo showing McKinnon Industries, Welland Vale and Houtby’s Siding, from the Brock University online collection.

I’m thrilled to have seen this photo because it provides me with an example of the traffic that was hauled across the creek to the west bank. I am very keen on modelling the operations along Ontario Street, but was worried that McKinnon Industries would dominate the freight movements. This photo gave me reason to explore more of the freight workings on the Port Dalhousie division – perhaps I could add Welland Vale to a layout to boost the switching opportunities?

My reprint of the 1945 Employee Time Table includes a list of tracks outside yard limits on the Port Dalhousie Division, which is helpful in determining switching opportunities on this line:

NST - Port Dalhousie track list

(Note the mileage is measured from Port Dalhousie in this time table, so the MP given for Houtby’s is different.)

I like that the line also includes a couple of team tracks and canneries. (I wrote about the Canadian Canners spur at MP 0.86 and the Cannery Siding at MP 0.99 in an earlier post on Port Dalhousie and Lakeside Park.) Looking at the sidings chart above – and keeping in mind that the Port Dalhousie Division was a busy passenger line until about 1950 – has given me a lot more to think about.

Thanks again, Aaron!