NS&T 21 – Humberstone

A reader commented that the NS&T seemed very urban compared to the types of model railways I’ve built in the past – including my Port Rowan in 1:64 layout and the earlier Maine On2 projects. And it’s true – there’s a more urban feel to the NS&T. But it had its share of open country running, too: Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 21 - Humberstone

NS&T 21 between Dainsville and Humberstone. Photographer and date unknown.

NS&T 21 was built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston, Ontario in 1927 as Montreal and Southern Counties 327. The NS&T acquired this locomotive in 1941 and scrapped it when electric freight service ended in 1960. At 60 tons, it was not only the heaviest freight motor on the NS&T, but also the railway’s heaviest piece of equipment.

We’re looking north in this photo, on the Welland Division line. The train is working south – the crew member on the locomotive is assisting with “back-poling” – towards Port Colborne. Based on the photo description and the 1930 Employee Time Table reprinted in the revised John Mills book, this is the 1,087-foot siding between MP 16.20 and 16.40, just north of Humberstone.

With that long train of boxcars in tow, the crew is likely headed towards the Robin Hood Flour Mill in Humberstone (the north part of Port Colborne). Located on the west bank of the Welland Canal and reached by a spur that left the mainline between Courtland and Omer Avenues, the mill had six tracks and was a major customer: in the peak season, the NS&T could switch 70-100 cars during the day shift, and many were headed for Robin Hood.

4 thoughts on “NS&T 21 – Humberstone”

  1. Question … I grew up in the area but moved away back in the 90’s. I assume the mill is still there (or at least it was there when I left). 75 – 100 cars is a huge volume. How was the mill serviced once the NS&T when out … I assume CN diesel? Are they still serviced by these tracks today?

    Super interesting blog!

    1. Hi Michael:
      The mill still exists and you can see it, plus the trackage, via google satellite. There’s a small yard to the south of the mill and two of the original six spurs still go into it.
      Short line operator Trillium Railway serves the area now. Trillium’s web site includes a good schematic of their operations. The Robin Hood mill is listed on this map as Riverland Agriculture.
      Thanks for the kind words about my blog – I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. Hi Trevor.
    Most of the freight operations photographs you shared until now show only the head end of the trains, even when shoving cars. I assume that the NS&T also had cabooses, or where they not required to have them on freight trains? If they existed, how did they look like?
    How are you planning on modelling those?

    1. Hi Daniel:
      Good question. The NS&T did have cabooses (also known as vans). By the 1950s – the time that interests me – the railway was using standard wooden vans supplied by its parent road, Canadian National Railways. However, the vans were assigned to the NS&T and didn’t stray, as the caboose stoves had to be grounded in order to be used safely under the trolley wire…
      I’ve recently published a photo of NS&T 20 in Port Colborne, with its CNR caboose.
      For modelling purposes in S scale, Ridgehill Scale Models has done CNR wooden cabooses as resin kits, with photo etched details. I have a number of these, which I use on my current layout (Port Rowan in 1:64). So I’m good to go.

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