NS&T 17: Houtby’s Siding

The photograph below is a pretty exciting one for me. It changes how I’m thinking about my potential model railway, based on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway.

NS&T 17 - Houtby's

NS&T 17 at Houtby’s Siding. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo is courtesy of the Niagara Railway Museum, which recently acquired a large collection of photographs. I’m grateful to Aaron White for giving me permission to share it here.

Number 17 and its short freight are in the hole at Houtby’s – at Milepost 2.33 on the Port Dalhousie line. It’s facing north, but it’s likely waiting to back south along the west side of 12 Mile Creek to serve customer(s) at Welland Vale.

To the left of the freight motor, one can see the bridge over 12 Mile Creek and – to the left of that, up the hill – the back of the McKinnon Industries complex on Ontario Street.

Aerial photo - 12 Mile Creek bridge and environs

1955 aerial photo showing McKinnon Industries, Welland Vale and Houtby’s Siding, from the Brock University online collection.

I’m thrilled to have seen this photo because it provides me with an example of the traffic that was hauled across the creek to the west bank. I am very keen on modelling the operations along Ontario Street, but was worried that McKinnon Industries would dominate the freight movements. This photo gave me reason to explore more of the freight workings on the Port Dalhousie division – perhaps I could add Welland Vale to a layout to boost the switching opportunities?

My reprint of the 1945 Employee Time Table includes a list of tracks outside yard limits on the Port Dalhousie Division, which is helpful in determining switching opportunities on this line:

NST - Port Dalhousie track list

(Note the mileage is measured from Port Dalhousie in this time table, so the MP given for Houtby’s is different.)

I like that the line also includes a couple of team tracks and canneries. (I wrote about the Canadian Canners spur at MP 0.86 and the Cannery Siding at MP 0.99 in an earlier post on Port Dalhousie and Lakeside Park.) Looking at the sidings chart above – and keeping in mind that the Port Dalhousie Division was a busy passenger line until about 1950 – has given me a lot more to think about.

Thanks again, Aaron!

NS&T 14 – Welland Avenue yard

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway had many homebuilt pieces of equipment – but it also rostered a few catalogue models from major builders. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 14 - Welland Avenue yard

NS&T 14 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T freight motor 14 is resting in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barns in St. Cathrines.

General Electric built this attractive unit in 1914. The NS&T rebuilt it in 1943, and it was scrapped in 1960. Of all the freight motors that lasted until the end of electrification, it was the lightest at 40 tons. It’s shown here in the CNR’s attractive green scheme. I love the collection of tanks and pipes next to the right-hand hood.

Number 14 was a popular motor on the NS&T, as it appears in many photographs. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any model of this locomotive available in S scale. (It has been done in HO and O, however.)

In S, William Flatt offered a model of NS&T 20 (nee South Brooklyn Railway 6) – another GE steeple cab – but at 55 tons it’s considerably heavier and differently proportioned.

NS&T 41 (green) – Welland Avenue yard

In a previous post, I shared a couple of photos of Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway express motor 41 at the Welland Avenue yard in St. Catharines – in a red paint scheme. In its final years, this motor wore a handsome CNR passenger green – as seen in these pictures from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

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

NST 18 and 41 - Welland Avenue

NS&T 18 and NS&T 41 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

There was always a wide variety of equipment in the car barn yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. Tomorrow, I’ll share a couple more photos of equipment that called the yard home – at least, in later years…

NS&T 41 (red) – Welland Avenue yard

In yesterday’s post, I shared an image of Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway number 41. Here are a couple more views of that express motor from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

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

NST 41 - Welland Avenue

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

In these two views, NS&T 41 is resting in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barn in St. Catharines.

Number 41 was built by the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtalbula in 1917 as its number 60. The NS&T acquired it in 1927 and undertook a significant rebuilding of the car. It was originally a wooden car, but later received steel sheathing.

Number 41 survived in red paint at least until 1952: it was painted into green sometime before 1957, and withdrawn from service in 1958.

I don’t know its ultimate fate, but I assume – like most of the NS&T equipment – it was scrapped sometime after the power was shut off in 1960. This express motor was part of the famous “funeral procession” photographs – depicting a string of equipment headed for scrap, led by NS&T 20, in 1959.

NS&T 41 – Geneva Street Terminal

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

NS&T 41 - St. Catharines Terminal

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

NS&T express motor 41 sits on the back track at the railroad’s main terminal in St. Catharines.

The photographer is standing on the southeast side of the terminal, looking northwest towards the building. Geneva Street is on the far side of the structure, while Welland Avenue is to the left.

As noted in a previous post, there were six tracks in the terminal – three stub-end spurs, and three through sidings. Comparing this photo to the map of the terminal trackage on page 48 of the revised book by John Mills and counting from right to left, express motor 41 is sitting on the stub track between platforms 3 and 4. A through track runs past the right (north) side of platform 3, and continues up the Grantham Division to Port Dalhousie East.

To the left, the track between platforms 4 and 5 still exists but it appears the track between 5 and 6, at extreme left, has been filled in: Note the two automobiles parked under the canopy. One of these is a police car, and in a discussion on the NS&T Facebook Group a member mentioned that for a while, the terminal was used by the RCMP. (I’m trying to pin down the dates for that and will update this post if I’m successful.)

Between the steel express motor and the stub-end terminal with covered platforms, this photo really reminds me of the O scale modelling of the late Bob Hegge on his Crooked Mountain Lines.

I’ll post more about NS&T 41 tomorrow.

NS&T sweeper 22 – St. Catharines

The Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway owned a variety of non-revenue equipment, obtained from a variety of sources. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 22 - Car barns

NS&T 22 – St Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T built the 22 in 1920. It was 44′-9″ long, weighed 58,800 pounds, and rode on a pair of 6′ Taylor trucks. The unit was rebuilt in 1946 and sent to the Oshawa Railway in 1960. Originally, this unit had wooden end hoods to cover the sweeper motors. In later years, as seen here, the hoods were removed.

Number 22 is seen here in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barns in St. Catharines. To its left is NS&T freight motor 20, a 55-ton GE model about which I’ve previously written.

To its right, there’s a decent view of the section of the building that was devoted to maintaining CN Transport Ltd buses. (The CGTX tank car is a mystery – I’m not sure what it’s delivering to the car barns – possibly fuel for the buses?)

At the extreme right, another freight motor slumbers. It could be NS&T 18 or NS&T 21: Both featured unique bow-shaped handrail supports, and one of these is visible in the photo – to the left of the hood.

I’ll share another photo of a sweeper tomorrow.

NS&T: ex-Queenston Power Canal freight motors

The Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway rostered an eclectic collection of equipment – including many pieces acquired secondhand. Included in the “previously enjoyed” category are a trio of freight motors originally built for the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway – an industrial railway operated by Ontario’s Hydro-Electric Power Commission (HEPC). Here are photos of all three – from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 16 - Welland Avenue Yard

NS&T 16 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

National Steel Car built NS&T 16 in 1918. This 50-ton freight motor was acquired from HEPC in 1926. Its number on the Queenston Construction Railway is not known, but it joined the NS&T as the second Number 16. (The first 16 was sold to the Montreal & Southern Counties in 1925, but returned to the NS&T in 1936 as Number 19.) When acquired by the NS&T, this freight motor sported the same body configuration as Number 17 (below), but the NS&T rebuilt Number 16 in 1930, giving it a new cab with a distinctive four-window side arrangement. I’m not sure why this was done.

NST 17 - Welland Avenue Yard

NS&T 17 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T 17 is also from the National Steel Car class of 1918. It was originally Queenston Construction Railway #E-9. Number 17 was 35 feet long and weighed 50 tons. I love the design of this freight motor, and I’m glad I have photo etches and detail parts to build it.

NST 18 - Welland Avenue Yard

NS&T 18 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

Number 18 is a classic Baldwin Westinghouse freight motor design. B-W built this 55-ton unit for the Auburn & Syracuse Railway in 1918. The Queenston Construction Railway acquired it, second hand, a year later, and it became #E-21. It was reassigned in 1924 to the Toronto & York Railway as that line’s Number 2, and acquired by the NS&T in 1927. I also have photo-etch and detail parts to build this freight motor.

The revised John Mills book on the NS&T includes a chapter (18) on the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway. It notes the canal was 8.5 miles long and its construction required the displacement of nine million cubic yards of earth and four million cubic yards of rock. The railway had 24 electric locomotives (plus a number of steam engines), plus about 250 air-operated dump cars.

The overhead wire was off-centre, so electric locomotives were each fitted with four trolley poles. They also carried heavy duty air compressors and larger than usual air tanks, because in addition to needing air for braking, they also supplied air to operate the dump cars.

When the CNR shut off the power on the NS&T overhead in 1960, all three locomotives transferred to the Oshawa Railway. From there, they took diverging routes. Number 16 went to Noranda Mines Ltd in 1965. Number 17 was scrapped in 1964. And Number 18 went to the Connecticut Electric Museum at Warehouse Point in 1965.

NS&T 82, 20, 17 – Welland Avenue car barns

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway had an eclectic collection of equipment, often on display at the car barn – a city block-sized yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 82, 20, 17 - Welland Avenue Car Barn

NS&T 82, 20 and 17 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

The photographer is standing near the front of the car barn at the east side of the yard, shooting northwest. Welland Avenue is on the other side of the fence, behind the equipment.

I’ve determined that this map conveys a pretty good representation of the trackage and facilities in this yard:

Welland Avenue car barns - map

1923 St. Catharines fire map – Brock University historical maps digital collection

I do like the paint scheme on these three units. While it’s a standard CNR green, the window frames and doors on the freight motors are nicely picked out in orange – and those black and white sills and pilots sure eye-catching.

Number 82 can barely be seen at the left (west) side of the photo. This car was built by the NS&T in 1925, for the Toronto Suburban Railway. It uses a standard underframe designed by CNR for its self-propelled diesel electric rail motors. As built, the car seated 72 passengers, was 61′-9″ long, and weighed 80,000 pounds. Sharp-eyed readers will note it has a baggage door in its side. Car 82 was rebuilt in 1956 as an express motor. It was scrapped in 1959 – so that narrows down the year for this photo.

As mentioned previously on this blog, NS&T 20 was built by General Electric in 1914 as South Brooklyn Railway #6. The NS&T acquired it in 1938 in a trade with a dealer in Toronto. It was a 55-Ton steeple cab, which was scrapped in 1960. A few years ago, I acquired a photo-etched kit for this locomotive designed by William, so it’ll definitely show up on any layout I build.

I also have a photo-etched kit from William for NS&T 17 – a handsome freight motor with pronounced curves on the ends of its hoods, and cab-side doors. Number 17 was a 50-ton freight motor built by National Steel Car in 1918 for the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway as that line’s number E-9. It was one of two freight motors acquired by the NS&T from the construction railway in 1926 – the other being the NS&T’s second Number 16. While the second 16 was rebuilt with a new cab in 1930, the 17 retained its original configuration. Number 17 was transferred to the CNR’s electric line in Oshawa, Ontario when the NS&T converted to diesel in 1960, and was scrapped in 1964.

As I ponder possible scenes to include on a layout, the Welland Avenue yard and car barn is tempting. That said, if I end up not building a layout (still a possibility), it would make a nice diorama – a great place to display the variety of equipment once owned by the NS&T.

NS&T 19 – switching in St. Catharines

Having explored Thorold quite extensively this week, I thought I’d switch back to St. Catharines – for some switching. Here’s a terrific shot from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 19 + 34 - St Catharines

NS&T 19 – St. Catharines. J Wigt photo. Date unknown.

In this photo (which also appears in the second volume by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen), a crew is switching in the yard that parallels the Main Line east of the terminal and Niagara Street freight house in St. Catharines. The notes that accompany this photo say the picture was shot in the area between Page and Vine Streets. A quick look on Google identified the building at right: It’s the back of a tile and carpet store on the east side of Page Street, north of Davidson Street. The photographer was standing on Tasker Street, south of the right of way (which is now a parking lot), shooting northwest. (I do not know who occupied the tile and carpet building in the NS&T era, or whether this building was served by rail back in the day. But my fire insurance map from 1923 notes that Tasker was called John Street, and a spur ran north on the west side of John to serve a canning factory.)

Given the location, the crew is likely shuffling cars in the team track yard on the south side of the freight house, clearly shown on this map:

NST-Map: Terminal + Niagara Street Yards

1923 St. Catharines fire map, showing (left to right) the NS&T passenger terminal, the Niagara Street freight house and team track yard, Page Street, John Street (now Tasker Street), and Haynes Street. From the Brock University online collection.

The NS&T built Number 19 in 1925 as its first Number 16. It was sold, almost immediately it seems, to the Montreal & Southern Counties, where it wore Number 325. (Number 16 was then applied to a national Steel Car steeple cab acquired from the Queenston Construction Railway, which built one of the hydro-electric power canals in the Niagara Region). M&SC 325 returned to the NS&T in 1936 and was given the number 19. This 50-ton freight motor is of the same design as NS&T 8 and NS&T 15. (I have photo etches and detail parts from William to model all three.)

The van (caboose) is NS&T 34. I don’t have too much information on the vans used on the NS&T, but it appears to carry a CNR Maple Leaf on its side. I do know that CNR vans had to have the stove grounded before they were safe to use on the NS&T, so they tended to stay on the property. The van is standing on a spur that is identified on my 1923 fire insurance map as serving Monarch Knitting. This picture also appears in the second book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen, and it’s noted that this spur was frequently used to store idle vans.

I used to explore this freight yard when I was a teenager in St. Catharines. It’s a fairly extensive operation, and the hub of a bunch of branches and spurs that radiate out like spokes. Unfortunately, this would make it a challenge to model…

NS&T 14 – five at Thorold Station

This week, I’ve been sharing photos of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway that were taken in and around Thorold, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. In this post, I have not one but five photos to share: a sequence of views taken at the station. They’re not as sharp as they could be, but they have so much valuable information in them for the modeller that I had to share…

NS&T - Thorold Station - 1 of 5

NS&T – Thorold Station (1 of 5). Photographer and date unknown.

This is a great overview shot of the NS&T station in Thorold. It was shot from the north, looking southwest. Not only does this photo feature the entire back and right side of the station in one frame, it’s also a terrific painting guide. The details are great too – such as the phone boxes, the parking meter, and the line poles: I see at least three pole-mounted lights to illuminate the platform area.

Note the bus, standing on the former main track at the station. At one time, there was a double-ended siding here, but the main track was removed and the siding turned into the main track to accommodate buses at the station. In addition to its railway operations, the NS&T ran a fleet of buses in the Niagara Region, starting as far back as 1929. Over the years, these included city buses, sight-seeing and charter operations, and highway services. The NS&T was the first component in the CNR system to adopt buses, and the railway maintained buses for itself and several other operators under the Canadian National Transportation Limited umbrella.

While I’m not sure what route this particular bus is covering, one possibility is that it’s in local service between Thorold and Merritton. This route was previously covered by the Low Line, but service on that line ended in the early 1930s and the Low Line tracks were lifted following an acrimonious dispute over the renewal of the operating franchise between the NS&T and the town of Merritton. By this date, the bus is likely running north beyond Merritton to St. Catharines, too.

NS&T - Thorold Station - 2 of 5

NS&T 14 – Thorold Station (2 of 5). Photographer and date unknown.

Here, the photographer has captured a short freight movement. NS&T steeple cab 14 has arrived from the south with a CNR boxcar. When this photo was taken, this 40-ton GE Steeple Cab was the lightest freight motor in service on the NS&T. It was built in 1914, rebuilt in 1943, and scrapped in 1960.

NS&T - Thorold Station - 3 of 5

NS&T 14 – Thorold Station (3 of 5). Photographer and date unknown.

The photographer has repositioned to the south end of the station area and is looking north. There’s a lot of great information in this photo – including the left (south) wall of the station, the layover spur for passenger cars working between here and Port Colborne, and even a good look at the ornamental bracket for a street light.

The grey stone building to the left of the main track, across from the station, is served by a spur that can be seen in Photo 5, below. It’s identified in the 1938 Employee Time Table as Davy Paper Company and in the first book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen as the Welland Pulp Mill. To the left of the boxcar, one can make out the glimmer of water: that’s the mill race off the no-longer-used second Welland Canal. This can also be seen in Photo 5, below.

The CNR boxcar appears to be 522786. It has a red flag in its coupler to bring up the markers, but there may be more to this train, as the next photo suggests:

NS&T - Thorold Station - 4 of 5

NS&T 14 – Thorold Station (4 of 5). Photographer and date unknown.

The NS&T freight motor and its boxcar are in the same position as in Photo 3, but the photographer has repositioned himself to the west side of the station. If the bus from Photo 1 is still hanging around, it’s just out of view to the left. The wide expanse of pavement between the track and the station is where the former main track used to run through here. In this photo, the main track is the former siding.

This photo also provides a good look at the grey house at the end of the street, which regularly provides a backdrop for pictures of passenger cars spotted on the layover siding (for example, this one from Wednesday’s post).

In the distance, two orange-painted pieces of equipment can be seen in the small Thorold freight yard. The one of the right is NS&T line car 31, which I wrote about on Monday. To the left of it is a van (caboose). My guess is that NS&T 14 is operating as a train (with a flag to bring up the markers) as it’s occupying the main track. But I think it’s move from the yard to the mill spur north of the station (as shown in Photo 5), and that it will drop the boxcar and then return for the van: It’s unlikely a van would lay over in Thorold. But that’s just a guess.

NS&T - Thorold Station - 5 of 5

NS&T 14 – Thorold Station / High Line (5 of 5). Photographer and date unknown.

Our “train” is heading north, out of the station area and towards the High Line. The buildings at right are the backs of businesses on Front Street. The mill described in Photo 3 is to the left, out of the picture, at the other end of the walkway clad in corrugated metal. Note the water of the raceway in the foreground. The automobile here can also be seen in Photo 3. The stone building at left is obviously derelict. I’m not sure what it was. It could be a former part of the mill, but it sure does have fancy windows for an industrial structure…

I suspect the crew on Number 14 will stop shortly and then back the boxcar onto the mill spur, which can be seen just in front of the automobile. (Why do it this way? Why not bring the van along for the ride? My theory here is that the crew of Number 14 wants to be able to duck out of the way of a passenger movement. The mill spur is quite short, but there’s enough room for a freight motor and single car to clear a passenger train. Obviously, a van on the main would be in the way, too: better to just leave it in the nearby yard.)

I also suspect the kid on the bike will stay to watch the proceedings: I know I sure would…

Phew – that’s a lot of Thorold! Tomorrow, I’ll share some freight switching from a much busier yard on the system.