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 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.

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 – Geneva Street

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:

NST 83 - Geneva at Queenston - St. Catharines

NS&T 83 – Geneva Street at Queenston Street – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

Car 83 is headed south on Geneva and has just arrived at the five-way intersection where Geneva, Niagara, St. Paul and Queenston come together. The photographer is standing on Queenston Street and shooting northwest. The car is running in extra service – note the white flags – and I’m guessing all those serious-looking gents are rail fans. (Perhaps they’re headed for lunch at the Queensway Hotel? It’s directly behind the photographer…)

I have shared many photos of Car 83 on this blog, but since it was such a well-photographed interurban the details are worth repeating:

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. Originally painted in the two-tone scheme, Car 83 was repainted in the mid-1950s into the CNR green scheme shown here. It was scrapped in 1959.

Geneva at Queenston - GSV

Geneva and Niagara Streets, from Queenston Street – St. Catharines. Google Streetview – 2017

While the NS&T is long gone, the intersection looks a lot like it did back in the 1950s. The same block of buildings stands, with different tennis. Even the parking lot to the north (right) is still there – although in the earlier view, it appears to be a car dealership.

This photograph was taken just east of the location where – on a different day – NS&T steeple cab 14 was caught hauling a boxcar to the factory on Phelps Street, which I shared in a previous post. The track in the foreground is the line along Queenston to Phelps Street.

NS&T 41 – Geneva Street Terminal

Many photos were taken of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway and most of the best ones have been published – often several times. But occasionally, a rare one pops up. That’s the case with this photo – new to me – which I found in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 41 - St. Catharines Terminal

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

NS&T express motor 41 sits on the back track at the railroad’s main terminal in St. Catharines.

The photographer is standing on the southeast side of the terminal, looking northwest towards the building. Geneva Street is on the far side of the structure, while Welland Avenue is to the left.

As noted in a previous post, there were six tracks in the terminal – three stub-end spurs, and three through sidings. Comparing this photo to the map of the terminal trackage on page 48 of the revised book by John Mills and counting from right to left, express motor 41 is sitting on the stub track between platforms 3 and 4. A through track runs past the right (north) side of platform 3, and continues up the Grantham Division to Port Dalhousie East.

To the left, the track between platforms 4 and 5 still exists but it appears the track between 5 and 6, at extreme left, has been filled in: Note the two automobiles parked under the canopy. One of these is a police car, and in a discussion on the NS&T Facebook Group a member mentioned that for a while, the terminal was used by the RCMP. (I’m trying to pin down the dates for that and will update this post if I’m successful.)

Between the steel express motor and the stub-end terminal with covered platforms, this photo really reminds me of the O scale modelling of the late Bob Hegge on his Crooked Mountain Lines.

I’ll post more about NS&T 41 tomorrow.

NS&T: A postcard view of the Geneva Street terminal

NS&T Terminal - Postcard

This is a terrific view of the main terminal building for the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. It shows off the design of the building quite well, having been photographed after most of the leaves had fallen out of the trees: In the summer, the building would’ve been obscured in the greenery.

Built by the CNR in 1923 and opened in 1924, the terminal faced Geneva Street. The NS&T’s head offices were located on the upper floor, while a ticket office and waiting room occupied the street level. It had three stub tracks and three through tracks on the north (far) side of the building, running parallel to Balfour Street. There’s a good map of the terminal trackage on page 48 of the revised book by John Mills.

The terminal was designed to accommodate trains on the Lake Shore, Welland, and Grantham Divisions, as well as the Main Line to Niagara Falls. City cars would provide connections to the downtown, just to the west. However, Mills notes the terminal was never used as intended. Few runs originated or terminated here and Welland Division trains never used it. In later years, photos show the platform tracks sometimes occupied by maintenance of way equipment.

The terminal later housed a Bank of Montreal branch and a business (secretarial) school. It was demolished in (I believe) the 1990s to make way for a strip mall. (Ironically, the mall’s tenants currently include a “Subway” restaurant.)

It’s difficult to see, but there are at least two pieces of NS&T equipment, including a line car, occupying the platform area at right.

In a future post, I’ll share an image of the platform area.

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…

NS&T Power Distribution

I’ve been reading through the revised book by John M. Mills on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, and it’s raised some questions about power distribution for the line.

NS&T 30 - Welland Avenue Spur

NS&T 30 – “Line Car Spur”, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

Chapter 12 of the book is a brief look at the power supply. It notes that by the 1950s, the railway had substations in St. Catharines, Thorold, Fonthill, Welland and Humberstone. (The substation in Niagara Falls was closed in 1947, while a substation in Niagara-On-The-Lake was shuttered in the 1930s.)

Most of the photos I’ve seen are of the building in the centre of the wye at Substation Junction, in Thorold. I’ve never seen a photo of the substation in St. Catharines.

I was curious about its location, so I went exploring.

My first theory – which was based on no evidence – was that the St. Catharines substation was located on the north side of Welland Avenue, must east of Court Street. This would place it across the street from the car barns, which backed against that street.

The Louisa Street cutoff comes in from the north to join Welland Avenue here, and there’s a short spur on the north side of the Lousia Street line at this location. Line cars were frequently photographed parked on this spur: an example of that is NS&T 30, shown above. Parking a line car next to the power supply seemed like a natural thing to do, to me…

However, a closer look at the 1923 St. Catharines fire maps shows that’s not the case:


1923 St. Catharines Fire Map. From the Brock University online collection.

The space I was thinking of is in fact a “supply yard” – which is also a logical place to spot the line cars. The map proves this is not the location of the substation – because a fire map would definitely have such a thing labelled. All that’s listed here is storage buildings. So, I kept looking…

NST-Map-Geneva Terminal and Substation

1923 St. Catharines Fire Map. From the Brock University online collection.

A-ha! There it is – the orange-coloured building in the lower right corner. That places it in the V formed by Welland Avenue and Niagara Street.

Now – does anybody know of any photos of this building?

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.)

NST 56 and 55 – St. Catharines Terminal

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 posts earlier this week, I shared some photos taken in the 1940s. Here’s one from an earlier time:

NST 56 and 55, St. Catharines Terminal

NS&T 56 and 55 rest under the trees at the St. Catharines terminal – Date and photographer unknown.

The NS&T had 10 open cars – numbered 50-59. They were built by Crossen in 1900.

The cars are on a track parallel to Welland Avenue at the terminal in St. Catharines. Geneva Street runs in front of the building. While I don’t have a date for this photo, I know the terminal opened in 1924 and these open cars were scrapped in 1933, so that narrows it down.

It has either recently rained, or the road has been watered to control dust. Did they do that in St. Catharines in the 1920s? I don’t know – but the wet road sure adds to the atmosphere of the photograph.