Welland: NST track map (1948)

A visit yesterday with my friend William Flatt produced a gold mine of information about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, including a set of official track maps of the Welland Subdivision (from Thorold to Port Colborne). The railway produced the original maps in 1920, and revised them in 1948. Here’s a look at Welland – a combination of three of the map pages:

NST track map - Welland
(I realize these maps are very small, but I’m adding them to this blog primarily for my own reference.)

The line from Fonthill enters at the top and exits at the bottom, towards Port Colborne. There’s a short run-around and a spur near Donald Avenue, then the line crosses the Welland River and enters the station area at Catherine Street and Maple Avenue. A couple of spurs behind the station serve as a team track.

Continuing south, the line includes spurs for the Allan Coal Company and British American Oil. Another spur heads east on Lincoln Road to serve Imperial Oil, then turns north to Commonwealth Electric.

To the west, a spur becomes a three-track yard that is an interchange point with the Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway. Meantime, the main track continues south and crosses the TH&B and Michigan Central at grade. Two spurs south of this serve the Crowland Coal Company and Welland Iron & Metal Co.

With industry and interchange, Welland is another community that would make for an ideal model railway subject.

Fonthill: NS&T track map (1948)

A visit yesterday with my friend William Flatt produced a gold mine of information about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, including a set of official track maps of the Welland Subdivision (from Thorold to Port Colborne). The railway produced the original maps in 1920, and revised them in 1948. Here’s a look at Fonthill – a combination of two of the map pages:

Track map - Fonthill
(I realize these maps are very small, but I’m adding them to this blog primarily for my own reference.)

The line from Thorold (to the north) enters at right and exits at the bottom left, towards Welland. The NS&T had a station in the northeast corner of the intersection of Canboro Road and Station Street, with a 585-foot double-ended siding in front of the station. A spur ran north up Station Street, then turned west to serve Canadian Canners.

South of the station, a 1,664-foot double-ended siding served a freight shed and platform. Presumably, this area was used as a team track.

Thorold: NST track map (1948)

A visit yesterday with my friend William Flatt produced a gold mine of information about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, including a set of official track maps of the Welland Subdivision (from Thorold to Port Colborne). The railway produced the original maps in 1920, and revised them in 1948. Here’s a look at Thorold – a combination of two of the map pages:

NST Track Map - Thorold
(I realize these maps are very small, but I’m adding them to this blog primarily for my own reference.)

Thorold, on its own, would make for an interesting layout. In Thorold, the railway had a station, a small yard including a scale track, a junction between the Main Line to Niagara Falls and the Welland Sub, a substation, a couple of major industries (including Exolon and the paper mill on Pine Street) and more. It would provide plenty of construction challenges and operating opportunities.

In the lower left corner, the line heads south towards Fonthill.

I have a lot more material to dig through from yesterday’s trip, and will share it as time allows.

Two views of Merritton

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway interchanged with the Canadian National Railways system in a small yard at Merritton, Ontario – now the southeast corner of St. Catharines. My visit with my friend William Flatt yesterday produced a couple of images I hadn’t seen before, which I’m sharing here.

NST82 at Merritton - November 21, 1954

NS&T 82, Merritton 1954 – photographer unknown.

Based on the file name, I believe this photo was taken November 21, 1954. It shows NS&T #82 at the Merritton station. This steel car was pretty big. Built in 1925 by the railway’s own shops, it was 61′-9″ long, tipped the scales at 80,000 lbs, and could accommodate 72 passengers. Number 82 was rebuilt into an express motor in 1956 with the addition of a pair of baggage doors on the side, and was scrapped in 1959.

NST Special - Merritton - August 31, 1958

Railfan special, Merritton 1958 – photographer unknown.

Again, based on the file name, I believe this photo was taken August 31, 1958. It shows a three-car railfan special. The first two units are sisters 620 and 623 – 50-seat interurbans built by the Ottawa car company in 1930 and acquired from the Montreal & Southern Counties – another CNR electric operation – in 1956. They were the most modern cars ever to grace the NS&T, and were scrapped in 1959.

The third car appears to be NS&T 83 – a sister to 82, the subject of the first photo in this post. It was also built by the NS&T in 1925, but for the Toronto Suburban Railway as that line’s #107. It returned home in 1935, where it was in storage for several years before returning to active service. It was scrapped in 1959.

Each car is flying white “extra” flags, plus red flags to bring up the markers. The poles have been switched for a run north into St. Catharines, but the flags have not yet been swapped end for end. Note the steam-powered CNR passenger train on the far side of the station.

I have a lot more information to process from yesterday’s trip, and will share it as I can…

St. Catharines: CNR track maps (1980s)

I grew up in St. Catharines in the 1980s, and that’s the era I remember on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. Of course, by that time the trolley wire had been gone for a couple of decades – it came down in 1960 – and much else had changed. Customers disappeared, and new customers were added. Trackage was rearranged – often with new connections made. And so on.

Still, any knowledge of “what was there” can only be a good thing. Years ago, I collected a set of CNR track maps – including associated indexes that identify each track. Here’s what I have. Note how each zone map includes the links to adjacent zones.

Zone MM
This 1983 map covers the transfer yard at Merritton, where the NS&T interchanged with the CNR.

Zone MM - Map

Zone MM - Index

Zone MG
Moving north from Merritton Yard, the line’s hub of operations was the Eastchester Yard area. This map is from 1985.

Zone MG - Map

Zone MG - Index

Zone ML
This map, from 1981, covers the area east of Eastchester Yard and up to Port Weller on the Welland Canal.

Zone ML - Map

Zone ML - Index

Zone MP
This map, from 1983, covers the track along Louisa Street and up Ontario Street to serve McKinnon’s (General Motors).

Zone MP - Map

Zone MP - Index

I’m grateful that I have these. I can compare them to other sources – such as the 1923 Fire Maps I recently found online – to develop a better picture of the NS&T in the electric era.

St. Catharines: 1923 fire maps

My virtual visit to Brock University’s collection of photos and maps is already paying off with more knowledge about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. In the university’s extensive online collection of historic maps, I found a set of 1923 fire insurance maps for downtown St. Catharines. These have already answered many questions. Here’s some of what I’ve found:

NS&T Geneva Street terminal and Niagara Street Yard:
Terminal-Eastchester Yard

Based on CNR track maps from the 1980s and other sources, this is a pretty good representation of the trackage in and around the terminal and freight house. Even better, though, this map clearly lists a number of industries served by the railway. There are coal sheds, lumber yards, and more. I can compare this to the siding turnout list in the 1938 Employee Time Table to get a better picture of a major traffic generating location on the line.

Welland Avenue car barns:
Welland Avenue Car Barns

I have plenty of photos taken in this area, but this is the first time I’ve seen a map of what was there. I know that these maps can be unreliable when depicting track arrabngements, but comparing the map to photos tells me that generally, this is correct. Furthermore, it’s the first resource to show the actual location of the car barns on the site. (As an aside, the car barns were torn down in the 1960s and the site converted into the Midtown Plaza strip mall.)

Ontario Street – Woodruff’s Siding – Louisa Street:
Woodruffs-02

Woodruffs-01

These two maps (from 1923 and 1913) show an area of particular interest to me – the location of McKinnon’s (later, General Motors) on Ontario Street. I’ve added a few legends to the maps as follows:
A – Woodruff’s Siding. This area was also the site of a coal dealer: RM Stokes Coal Co. I did not know that.
B – Weston Bakery. Again, I didn’t know that.
C – Another coal dealer – Parnell & Garland. This is now the site of a low-rise apartment building.
D – Spurs serving McKinnons and WS Tyler.
E – At one time, Warren Axe & Tool was located here, and had rail service. Later, this area became a parking lot for General Motors, which has plants on both sides of Ontario Street.
F – Welland Vale Manufacturing Company, also rail served.

Thanks to the university’s digitization project, I’m developing a much better picture of what existed, back in the day…

Aerial Photography of the NS&T

This morning, I had the idea that vintage aerial photography might help me trace the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto – and I found an excellent resource online at Brock University.

Niagara Air Photo Index
(Click on the image to visit the university library online)

The Niagara Air Photo Index includes photography of St. Catharines, Thorold, Welland, and Port Colborne, and covers multiple eras dating back to 1921.

I note the university library also has a number of vintage maps online, so there’s plenty to explore…

NS&T 1938 Employee Time Table

As I ponder a layout based on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, I have been reviewing my various source materials (four books and a video) about the line.

And this one has turned out to be a real gold mine of information:

NST-Mills-02

Like many railway references, the 2008 edition of the book by John M Mills includes a lot of data that one tends to skip over in favour of photos and captions when simply reading for pleasure. But since I’m reading for specific information this time through, I’m paying much more attention to it. So, I’ve been reading through the appendixes … which include a copy of NS&T Employee Time Table 52 – dated April 3, 1938.

In amongst the schedules and special instructions, there’s something I’ve never before encountered in an Employee Time Table: a complete list of sidings and turnouts for each division, presented in order with their mileage marker. This is spectacular information for the layout designer, because many of the sidings are identified by the customer they serve. Essentially, I now have a list of online customers, and where they were located in relation to each other.

For example, here are a few entries for the line out of Port Dalhousie:

Graham & Son Coal Company – MP 0.04
Yard Switch – MP 0.13
Johnson Coal Company Siding – MP 0.20
Dominion Canners Siding – MP 0.63
Lake Street Team Track – MP 1.02
Imperial Oil Company Siding – MP 2.21
Lincoln Canning Company Siding – MP 2.23
Cloney & Winton Siding – MP 2.33

… and so on.

The descriptions also include things like passing siding locations and lengths (e.g.: Thorold Passing Siding, 345 feet long), railway trackage (e.g.: Thorold scale track siding, 452 feet long; beginning of double track; South Wye Switch), and more.

It’s not perfect – a track map would be even better. I have track maps from the mid-1980s, but I know that a fair bit of the trackage in St. Catharines was rearranged in the post-electric era. For example, passenger service trackage in the downtown was lifted or paved over, and in some cases trackage moved to better serve industries or to get trains out of the streets. In other cases, customers disappeared – there weren’t many retail coal dealers in the 1980s – and tracks were removed. (A good example of this is the list of industries I’ve included above: the line to Port Dalhousie was cut back to McKinnon’s on Ontario Street by the era represented by my track maps. It was miles away from Port Dalhousie at that point.)

But, this list is an excellent start. If nothing else, it will help me determine what segments of the NS&T will be most interesting to operate. And it’ll give me names to put to industries, which should help in researching them. I’m really pleased!

Thanks to John M. Mills for including this important piece of background information in his book.

NS&T: Four books and a video

Those wishing to learn more about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway can draw on a number of resources. While there are website and groups online, I find myself returning time and again to the following traditional media, presented in order of publication…

“The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway” by John M. Mills

NST-Mills-01

The first book I know of on the NS&T, this 118-page softcover volume was jointly published by the Upper Canada Railway Society and the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association. I’m not sure of the publication date, although my copy has a handwritten note on the title page that says simply “December – 4 – 1971”. There’s no ISBN. It covers the history of the NS&T, its predecessors, and its various components – including the interurban operation, city car lines, navigation company, and bus services.

“NS&T” by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen

NST-Panko-Bowen-01

This 48-page softcover book of photos and captions was published by NiagaRail Publications in 1983, for the Niagara Division of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. 1,000 copies were printed. There’s no ISBN. It contains a number of full-page pictures, and several not published elsewhere.

“Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Electric Railway in Pictures” by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen

NST-Panko-Bowen-02

A follow-up to their earlier collaboration, this 144-page hardcover was published by NiagaRail Publications in 1984 (ISBN 0-920184-02-6.) The book features a painting by Anton Akkerman on the cover, and 2,000 were printed. It continues the Panko-Bowen exploration of the NS&T via well-captioned photos – and like their first volume, it includes many large photos of subjects not found elsewhere.

“Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway: a Canadian National Electric Railways Subsidiary” by John M. Mills

NST-Mills-02

This is a revised and expanded edition of the author’s earlier book – and well worth adding to one’s library. It was published in hardcover and softcover by Railfare / DC Books in 2008 (ISBN: 978-1-897190-28-9 for hardcover and 978-1-897190-27-2 for the paperback.) At the time of this writing, it’s the only book in this list that’s still in print. (I’ve included a link on the home page of this blog, under “Resources”.)

As with the first Mills book, this one covers the history of the NS&T, its predecessors, and its various components – including the interurban operation, city car lines, navigation company, and bus services. But at 256 pages, it includes much more – including some 300 photos (50 in colour), maps, histories, rosters, drawings of select pieces of equipment, and so on. If you’re only casually interested in the NS&T or Ontario railway history, this is the one for you. (If you’re a student of the line, you’ll want all four of course!)

(I frequently refer to this book as “the revised book by John Mills” elsewhere on this blog.)

“Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway – The Little System That Could” (DVD)

NST-Video

This 60-minute DVD – published in 2010 – is narrated by Ray Neilson and includes interviews with author John Mills, as well as a number of rail fans who experienced the NS&T first-hand and captured it on film. It also includes interesting footage of the boats from Toronto, Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie, and other goodies courtesy of the St. Catharines Museum. My DVD player has trouble playing this video sometimes – it jumps from chapter to chapter – but it’s well worth the agro. Still in publication, and available from GPS Video. (I’ve included a link on the home page of this blog, under “Resources”.)

NS&T 18: Hang on…

… I don’t own a NorthWest Short Line “Riveter”…

NST 18 - The Riveter

Two days of searching through storage containers under the layout turned up this box. I do have a rivet-making tool – but it’s by GW Models (a manufacturer in the UK). So what’s in the box?

NST 18 - hiding in the box

As I suspected, it’s the frets and other parts for NST 18. Phew!

I was keen to find this, because I’m building shopping lists for detail parts to finish each of the freight motor kits I have collected. If I’m going to be buying bells, horns, re-rail frogs, etc., I want to be able to do it in one order – not two or three.

I have now put my hands on all of the NS&T projects, so the inventory can begin.

When I opened the NSWL Riveter box, I exclaimed, “Found it! I can stop sorting and cleaning down here.” From upstairs, my wife promptly responded, “No you can’t!”

I laughed, but she’s right. The sorting and clearing will continue!