NS&T: 80+31 at Exolon

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, which I found in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST80+31 - Thorold (Exolon)

NS&T 80 and NS&T 31 – Thorold. Photographer and date unknown

Car 80 is heading northeast towards downtown Thorold and a stop at the station, while Line Car 31 works on the overhead near the Exolon plant.

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.

Line Car 31 was built by Russell in 1911 for the Cleveland & Eastern. The NS&T acquired it in 1926 to replace an earlier car with the same number, which was scrapped. It was 42′-6″ long and weighed 63,300 pounds.

I have to admit, the location of this one was a complete mystery to me – but there were enough clues in the photo that the sleuths on the NS&T Facebook group were able to determine where it was shot. A special shout-out to Aaron White for his detective work!

Aaron noted:

“The 1965 imagery from Brock University shows a house with two dormers on the corner of Shriner and Queen Street, which was apparently expropriated and demolished before 1969, as Highway 58 goes right through that area now. The substation would then be for Exolon. Also of note is that the track closest to the photographer is under construction (it has no ballast), and has tie plates, which the NS&T seemed to only have adopted later on. The catenary also hasn’t been installed yet.”

Here’s the aerial photo to which Aaron refers, with his labels:

Exolon - 1965 - Aerial (Brock U)

Aerial photo, Thorold (Exolon) – 1965. Brock University digital collection.

While there’s no trolley line over the new track in the foreground, I noticed that the pole to the right of the line car has a cross-arm to support two wires. A close look reveals that those two wires come together behind the rope to the trolley pole on Number 80. While I can’t see any evidence of track in the grass, it’s obvious there’s another track behind the line car. And “checking the wires” has become a new tool for determining track arrangements.

There’s not much left from this scene today. As Aaron noted, the house with two dormers has been destroyed to make room for Highway 58. Exolon is also gone. But exploring the area reveals that a power station (seen at the extreme right of the lead photo) still occupies the site:

Power station at Exolon - Google Satellite.

Queen Street and Highway 58 – Thorold. Google Satellite

One of my favourite aspects of writing this blog is the research – and I’m thrilled that others, more knowledgeable than me, are so enthusiastic about sharing what they know…

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