NST 41 – Geneva Street Terminal (II)

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 of my findings:

NST 41 - Geneva St Terminal

NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

I gave this post’s title the “(II)” addendum because it’s not the first time I’ve shared a photo of this freight motor at the main passenger terminal. Back in April, I shared another picture, reproduced below:

NS&T 41 - St. Catharines Terminal
(Click on the image for more information)

In both photos, the express motor is in a similar spot. It’s on one of the stub tracks. But the black and white picture that’s the subject of today’s post is obviously from an earlier time in the railway’s life, because there are still canopies over all the platform. In the colour photo, the canopies have been removed. (In fact, it looks like some of the through tracks to the right have also been pulled up.)

There are some neat details in this picture, including an electric light under the canopy – just to the right of the freight motor. That’s good to know for anybody interested in modelling this handsome yet little-used passenger terminal.

As always, you can check the categories menu on the home page for more posts about specific subjects – including Express Motor 41, the Geneva Street Terminal and The Andrew Merrilees Collection.

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.

Two views of the car barn yard

I’m working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*. My findings included a couple of images taken from opposite ends of the main track that ran through the car barn yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines:

NST - Welland Avenue - Southwest

NS&T – car barn yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

A few days ago, I posted an image of NS&T 301 – and at the time, I was unsure of where the photo was taken. This image solved the mystery for me (and I’ve since gone back and updated that post). The unknown photographer is standing at the northeast corner of the yard on Welland Avenue, looking southwest along the main tracks that swing off the road and pass through the yard. The trespassing sign, switch stand and corner of the carbarn – at left – can clearly be seen in the photo of 301 linked to above.

I wish this photo was more clear, because there’s a lot going on in it. Just to the right of the car barn is a small shed and what could be a pile of sand. The barn leads are packed with equipment. What appears to be a 130-series car is preparing to leave the yard. This image also provides a good view of the fabricated metal poles used to support the overhead wires along parts of the NS&T.

To the right in the distance is the freight house that once stood on the property. I believe this dates from the days of the steam-powered St. Catharines and Niagara Central Railway. As noted elsewhere on this website, the NS&T’s freight house was located on Niagara Street.

NST - Court Street - Northwest

NS&T car barn yard, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

In this view, the photographer is standing on Clark Street and looking northeast into the car barn shooting along the main track, from the opposite direction of the photo above. This was possibly the same photographer, as one can see what appears to be a 130-series car on the main track (partially obscured by the trespassing sign). Again, there’s a lot of equipment in the yard.

At one time, the main track through the yard continued across Clark Street and down Raymond to James, forming one of the many loops through downtown St. Catharines. I don’t know when the railway lifted the track on Raymond.

For those unfamiliar with the car barn area, this St. Catharines fire map puts everything in perspective:

Fire Map - Welland Avenue car barns

*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 17 at work on Welland Avenue

I’ve found many pictures of NS&T freight motor 17 at rest in the Welland Avenue car barn yard, but I’m always excited to find new (to me) views of it in service. Here are two that I came across last week, in the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*:

NST 17 - Train - Welland Avenue

NST 17 and train. Photographer and date unknown.

While I am not 100% certain where this photo was taken, I’m pretty sure it was shot on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines, between Geneva Street and the car barn yard. There was a section of double track here, which curved into the car barn yard. A quick search on Google Street View suggests the train – headed westbound – is about to enter the Welland Avenue intersection with Woodland Avenue: The bungalow in the image appears to still exist, on the northeast corner of this T-intersection. Many of the cars in this train would be headed to McKinnon Industries (General Motors) on Ontario Street, while others might be going to Welland Vale.

NST 17 - Train - Welland Avenue

NST 17 and train. Photographer and date unknown.

On a different day, NS&T 17 is headed westbound on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. This time, I’m pretty sure of the location: in the background, just ahead of the locomotive, one can see what I’m sure is the roof of the platform awnings at the Geneva Street Terminal. As with the first photo, this train is likely headed towards McKinnon and Welland Vale.

*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 gallery (Old Time Trains)

Looking for more photos of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway? The Old Time Trains website has an extensive gallery online.

It’s spread across five pages, but you can start with the first page (including links to all the others) by clicking on this terrific image of a pair of NS&T 130-series wooden interurbans in boat train service:

NST 130-series - Old Time Trains

Victoria Avenue at Roberts Street, Niagara Falls. Jim Shuman photo, July 7, 1946

Enjoy if you visit!

“The First Shall Be Last”

Thanks to Hugh Jordan on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway Facebook Group for pointing out that noted Canadian railway photographer Robert Sandusky wrote a sweet capsule history of the railway for the Bytown Railway Society’s Branchline magazine back in April, 2009.

The PDF of the issue is available for free online. The four-page article – which includes an NS&T system map – begins on page 18. Click on this image from the article to start reading, and discover the meaning of this post’s title…

Carbarn-Sandusky Article

Enjoy if you visit!

(UPDATE: I’m told this link may not work for everyone. Sorry about that – it’s beyond my control.)

Plotting the NS&T schedule

As I mentioned last week, I recently acquired a copy of NS&T Employee Time Table 61 effective May 13th 1945. One of the things I discovered while reading through it was that 78 scheduled trains passed through Thorold each day.

NS&T - Thorold Station - 1 of 5

NS&T Thorold Station. Photographer and date unknown.

These included two routes – the Niagara Falls Sub (main line) and the Welland Sub. The Niagara Falls Sub ran between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, passing through Thorold en route. The Welland Sub ran between Thorold and Port Colborne, passing through Welland.

NST 135 & 132 - Substation Junction

Main Line train: NS&T 135 & 132, Substation Junction 1943 – photographer unknown.

NST 130 - Thorold

Welland Sub train: NS&T 130, Thorold – Photographer and date unknown.

Obviously, an interurban car working either of these routes would cover the route several times n both directions over the course of a day – which led to my next question: How many trains would be on the line to cover such a schedule? (The question for modellers is related: How many pieces of rolling stock are required to cover it?)

To answer that, I sat down on the weekend with graph paper, a ruler and coloured pens and drew a timeline for a typical weekday schedule. (Those who have set up a layout for operations might know this as a String Diagram). Here’s what I found:

NST - 1945 - Schedule - Plotted

1945 NS&T schedule interpreted as a String Diagram

You can right-click on the string diagram and open the image in a separate tab to see a larger version of it, but what I learned is that at a minimum, it requires four trains – two for each division – to cover 24 hours of passenger service through Thorold. At least some of the Niagara Falls trains could be run with two cars, as shown in the first photo in this post – so a modeller may want six pieces of equipment. In addition, there are a couple of other scheduled trains that do not follow the routine – they cover part of a line, then (I assume) deadhead to return to the car barn. So, there’s room for a seventh car, if desired.

I do not know if cars were pulled from service after a certain number of runs in the day, and new cars swapped. Obviously, the crews were – the lines ran from 5am to 2am.

The string diagram also tells me more about how Thorold worked – from a passenger train perspective. The Welland Subdivision car would arrive first, from the south, and take the layover siding (seen in the second photo in this post). Then, a main line train heading eastbound (from St. Catharines) would make its station stop. The main line train would then leave headed east (for Niagara Falls, with the Welland Sub train following it. The main line train would continue east at Substation Junction, while the Welland Sub train would head south to Port Colborne. The main line train would cross the Welland Canal and meet its westbound counterpart on the east side, at a siding called Shriners.

The schedules were set such that a person arriving at Thorold on the northbound Welland Subdivision train would be able to make the connection to the main line train with relatively little waiting: a four-minute wait for an eastward train to Niagara Falls, and a 15-minute wait for the westbound headed to St. Catharines. Those headed from St. Catharines to Port Colborne would also be well served: Their southbound train would be waiting when they arrived at Thorold, and they’d have seven minutes to board. What about those those travelling from Niagara Falls to Port Colborne? Their two trains would meet at Substation Junction, where – I believe – passengers would be able to scoot across the inside corner of the wye.

It sure didn’t leave much time for freight…

NS&T - Thorold Station - 4 of 5

A quick switch: NS&T 14 at Thorold Station. Photographer and date unknown.

… but freights and other extras did manage to squeeze in between the parade of trains, making for a very busy day in Thorold.

NS&T Employee Time Table from 1945

Well, now I’m in trouble. This week, the mailbag included a terrific score – a copy of NS&T Employee Time Table 61, effective May 13th 1945:

NST Employee Time Table 61

This book runs 26 pages, and has a wealth of information between its covers. Already, I’ve learned some eye-opening things about the NS&T.

For example, on a weekday, the line through Thorold hosted an astonishing 78 scheduled trains: 39 in each direction. Some ran through between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, on the Main Line. Some took the Welland Division to Fonthill, Welland and Port Colborne. Some started or ended their run on the layover track in Thorold. But all passed the depot, the small yard, and the substation.

Even if one keeps in mind that each train is one or possibly two cars long, and that the same equipment ran under several schedules over the course of the day, that’s a huge amount of traffic.

Thorold Map - labelled.

There wasn’t a lot of track in Thorold – but there sure were a lot of trains. Right-click on the image to open in a separate window, in a larger format

What’s more, this does not include any freight trains that operated on the line, or switched in Thorold itself. I don’t know how the crews switched Thorold without going nuts, trying to keep out of the way of all of that…

The employee time table is in excellent condition, too – only lightly used. It is a reprint, done in 1972 – but even so, I can’t believe my luck in finding this one online for the princely sum of $8.