NS&T Brill cars at Port Dalhousie

I’m working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*. Among my findings are a number of photos of the NS&T at Port Dalhousie – including the views shared here:

NST 326 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 326 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

NST 324 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 324 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

These two photos are looking east in the ferry dock yard at Port Dalhousie – and while they’re fairly standard views of NS&T equipment, I like that they show some details of the terminal building on the right side of the photos. This was on the water’s edge and was where people would shelter while waiting to board the NS&T lake boats headed for Toronto.

NST 324 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 324 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

Here’s another view of 324 in the ferry dock yard, this time looking west. The photographer may have been standing in front of the terminal building shown in the earlier photos.

This photo is from a different era than the previous picture of 324 – note the bars over the lower windows on the car in this picture (and the kid demonstrating how they don’t quite keep arms in).

The building behind the 324 (at left) was one of many framing this yard area. I have better photo of that building, which I’ll share in a future post.

The two cars shown in these views were part of the 320 series (320-326). These 52-seat suburban cars were built by Brill in 1917 for the Washington-Virginia Railway. The NS&T acquired them in 1929. They were 48’4″ long, weighed 56,200 lbs, and rode on 6′ trucks spaced 21’6″ apart. Car 323 was scrapped in 1945, while the rest were transferred to the Montreal & Southern Counties (another CNER property) in 1947, and scrapped in 1956.

NS&T 320-326 were known as the “Washington” cars, and in his revised book on the NS&T, author John Mills describes them as the most versatile cars the railway ever owned – noting they could handle local or suburban services, and were even used in mainline extras when required. They were favourites for the Port Dalhousie route.

*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 – 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 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 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 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 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 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 – 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.