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.

Port Dalhousie & Lakeside Park

In an earlier post, I shared photos of several Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway passenger cars headed through Woodruffs siding near Ontario Street in St. Catharines. Those cars were on the Port Dalhousie Division, taking people to and from the amusements at Lakeside Park. Here are some photos of the north end of that division, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST309-NST68-LakesidePark

NS&T 309 and NS&T 68 – Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

The Port Dalhousie Division was considered part of the St. Catharines local lines – but it presented many challenges to the NS&T. Lakeside Park was popular during beach season, meaning there was heavy seasonal traffic. In addition, a dance hall in Port Dalhousie generated a lot of riders. John Mills notes in his revised book on the NS&T that trains were often run as “doubles” (two cars running close together, on the same schedule), and that during peak Port Dalhousie season, up to six sections could use the same schedule. By 1940, the NS&T decided to run the division using standard railway operating rules, with green flags for advanced sections, white flags for extras, and – of course – red flags or markers bringing up the rear.

NS&T 309 is a Cincinnati car, in the 301-312 series. The presence of Cincinnati cars on this line suggests the photos were taken after 1947, as that’s when they were pressed into service to the Port after the CNR transferred the NS&T’s 320-series cars to Montreal. The Cincinnati cars did not track well on open track work, such as the stretch between Port Dalhousie and Woodruffs, and frequently derailed. The NS&T had better luck with 68 – a Preston product built for the London & Lake Erie in 1908 and acquired by the NS&T in 1920. NS&T 68 was 51 feet long, weighed 34,380 pounds, and sat 54 passengers.

NST309-LakesidePark

NS&T 309 – Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

NS&T 309 is just leaving Lakeside Park. It’s about to cross Lock Street in Port Dalhousie and run southwest along Main Street.

NST80 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 80 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

Further along Main Street, NS&T 80 is headed out of the centre of the road and onto private right of way. Here, there was a siding known either as Corbetts or the Canning Factory siding. This was on the southeast side of the road and the start of the siding can just be seen at lower right.

NST309+others - Cannery Siding, Port Dalhousie

NS&T equipment – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken further west on the canning factory siding. Car 309 – at right – is headed towards Lakeside Park in this image. Ahead of it, at the left edge of the photo, is another car heading to the Port. They’re meeting two cars – including a Cincinnati curved side in the 301-312 series – making the return trip to St. Catharines on the track closest to the photographer.

The two cars that are not Cincinnati products could be NS&T 327 and 328. They are known to have covered the Port Dalhousie Division, and they do not appear to have integral classification/marker lights above the end windows.

NS&T 327 and 328 were built by Preston in 1914 for the Edmonton Radial Railway. From there, they went to the Oshawa Railway as that line’s 80 and 81. At some point, the Oshawa Railway converted them into tool sheds – and it could’ve been their fate to rot in place. But World War II placed new pressure on the NS&T, and to satisfy the demand these two cars were acquired from Oshawa in 1943 and returned to active duty with motors and parts from NS&T 62 and 64. They were scrapped in September 1950.

The brown building at the left of the photo, behind Cincinnati car, is the Port Dalhousie Canning Company. According to a history of Canadian Canners Limited by Louise Elder, this factory was built in 1913. It packed strawberries, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, peaches, pears, plumbs, tomatoes, pumpkins and apples under the “Harbor” and “Harvest” labels.

Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd

Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd

Two views of the Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd. Photographer and date unknown.

The Port Dalhousie Canning Company was purchased by Dominion Canners Ltd in 1923, but DCL used it only for storage. DCL sold the facility to the Port Dalhousie Lions Club in 1952. The club has since built a new hall at 201 Main Street, the site of the original canning plant.

NS&T passenger service at Woodruffs

When I was in high school, and living near the General Motors plant on Ontario Street in St. Catharines, the remains of the NS&T were still active as part of the CNR system – but, of course, only as a freight line. The CNR would deliver boxcars to two locations in the plant – and that’s it. It was wonderful to live so close (but not too close) to full-size railroading in the streets, but it sure didn’t provide variety.

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, back in the NS&T days this plant had more trackage, and received a greater variety of equipment. There were also other customers in the area, all fed off a small passing siding located between Ontario and Louisa Street and known as Woodruffs.

At one time, this area also saw frequent passenger service, as Louisa and Woodruffs were part of the route used by NS&T cars to reach Port Dalhousie. I found several examples of this in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 310 Crossing Ontario Street

NST 310 crossing Ontario Street, St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

This car is headed inbound from Port Dalhousie. Once it crosses the street, it will enter Woodruffs. There are lots of neat details in this photograph.

The small structure at right is an NS&T passenger shelter. It appears similar to one that was frequently photographed at Dainsville – on the Welland Division, just north of Port Colborne.

The building behind the 310 is WS Tyler – which was a customer of the railway in the 1950s. Not seen, but also in this area, are two spurs headed to the right to serve McKinnon Industries and McKinnon Columbus Chain.

The curved track in the lower right is the line entering Ontario Street from Woodruffs. It heads north to serve west plant of McKinnon Industries, and then curves east alongside Carleton Avenue to reach the back of McKinnon’s east plant.

If the photographer backed up about 600 feet and shot another photo, it would look something like this:

NST 312 at Woodruffs

NS&T 312 at Woodruffs, St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

This car is also inbound to St. Catharines from Port Dalhousie. It’s on the main track at Woodruffs – a siding approximately 600 feet long tucked on an angle between Ontario and Thomas Streets. The track to the right is the siding, which then curves onto Ontario Street and runs north as previously described. There’s another switch, beyond the crossover, which heads to through the bushes to the right to serve the RM Stokes coal dealer, which was tucked in a triangle of land between Woodruffs, Lowell Avenue, and Thomas Street.

NS&T 312 is the omega car 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 platforms on the roofs to allow the poles on shorter cars to reach the wire) and otherwise retrofitted for service on the Port Dalhousie line. Since the cars in these photos are so equipped, these photos were taken after 1948. Buses replaced the trolleys to Port Dalhousie on March 1st, 1950. All Cincinnati cars were eventually scrapped.

Note the city bus running on Ontario Street, directly ahead of the siding.

Port Dalhousie was a popular destination. It featured a nice beach, a dance pavilion, and other attractions. The line could be quite busy in the nice weather – as this final look at Woodruffs attests:

NST 80 plus 300-series cars - Woodruffs

NS&T 80 plus two Cincinnati cars at Woodruffs – Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was shot from Ontario Street, looking the opposite direction from the previous two. Car 80 is taking the crossover out of the siding and back onto the main to continue onto Port Dalhousie. It’s likely the unidentified Cincinnati car behind it will follow along. Just barely visible at the extreme right of the photo is the reason for their wait in the hole: another NS&T car – likely a Cincinnati model – headed inbound to downtown St. Catharines.

Car 80 was a one-off. The second car to carry this number on the NS&T, it was built in 1915 by Kuhlman. The 57′-6″ car weighed 69,740 pounds and could accommodate 64 passengers. The car was originally a combine, but was rebuilt in 1939 to remove the baggage compartment. It was further rebuilt in 1941 after a collision with Car 82, into the configuration seen here.

The track to the right of 82 is the spur into RM Stokes.

While short, the Woodruffs siding was important as a run-around track into the CNR era. I remember watching CNR crews in the 1980s use these two tracks as a small yard to store cars for one GM plant while working the other one. It must’ve been even busier when freights needed to keep out of the way of the traffic to and from Port Dalhousie.

Here’s a photo to help make sense of all of this:

NST - McKinnons - Aerial Photo

1955 aerial photo showing Ontario Street and Woodruffs, from the Brock University online collection