Postcard of Thorold from the water

Here’s a Thoroldy bonus for today – a postcard view of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway, taken from across the mill race:

NS&T 82 or 83 - Thorold Yard

NS&T 82 or 83 – Thorold. Photographer and date unkwown.

The photographer is looking southeast to capture this view of Car 82 or 83 (I’m not sure which) as it runs north towards Thorold station. The freight house is just aft of the car.

There are a couple of valuable things in this photo for the modeller. First, it shows just how close to the water the NS&T ran here. Second, at the extreme right of the picture one can see what I believe is A Martin & Sons – a coal and lumber dealer. To me, the diagonal orange slash in front of the rightmost building looks like a portable coal conveyor. This is the first picture I’ve found of this railway customer, so for that alone I’m glad I have it.

I also like that the photo shows the backs of the buildings on Ormond Street – again, another important piece of information for the modeller.

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.

NS&T 130 – Thorold layover spur

On the south side of the station in Thorold, the NS&T had a short layover track – a spur to hold passenger trains working the Welland Division between Thorold and Port Colborne. Here’s a photo of it, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 130 - Thorold

NS&T 130 – Thorold. Photographer and date unknown.

This is a lovely, atmospheric photo. It’s either raining – or has recently. Both poles are down so the car will be here for a little while, awaiting its trip south. The marker flags have been set for the next run. I like the mix of styles evidenced by the houses behind the car. The structure in the distance at right is the NS&T freight shed: The main track passes to the right of it, then through the small freight yard with track scale and onto Substation Junction.

I do like these 130-series wooden cars, and I’ve shared several photos of them. Of interest, NS&T passenger equipment wore a number of paint schemes throughout their lives. In a post earlier this week, Car 130 appears in a much-faded version of the all-red scheme. It wore the same scheme when captured at the Welland depot.

Even though the photo in this post is black and white, it’s clear that the car is wearing the cream over red seen on the cars in my post about the siding at Woodruffs. As mentioned in an earlier post, the NS&T repainted this car into the cream-over-red scheme sometime between July 24/48 and August 24/52.

NS&T 16 – Thorold Yard

Over the past couple of days, I’ve shared a few photos of the NS&T in and around its small yard in Thorold, Ontario. Here are couple more from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – featuring a freight motor with a thing for covered hoppers:

NST 16 - Switching near Substation Junction

NS&T 16 – Thorold Yard. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken looking south, at the north switch of the small yard in Thorold. The photographer is on the west side of the tracks. The freight house would be behind him, to the left (east side) of the mainline.

NST 16 and NST 620 - Thorold

NS&T 16 and NS&T 620 – Thorold Yard. ND Clark photo*. Date unknown.

Here, NS&T 16 has paused in its switching to let passenger car 620 pass by, headed north towards the Thorold station. This time, it has one of CNR’s “slab side” covered hoppers in its care. We’re looking north this time, from the east side of the tracks, and the roof of the freight house can be seen at the right edge of the photo.

I’ve written about NS&T 16 before, and the 620-series cars have featured quite regularly on the blog, so I won’t repeat that information here. Instead, I’ll focus on the covered hoppers.

In both photos, the car that the crew is switching has probably just been loaded at Exolon, located a half mile southwest of the yard (between MP .77 and .98 on the Welland Division). According to The Welland Canals and their Communities: Engineering, Industrial, and Urban Transformation by John N. Jackson, Exolon – an American company named for the fused aluminum-oxide abrasive it produced – opened its Thorold plant in 1914 to take advantage of cheap hydro electric power. The plant received raw materials via canal, including petroleum coke and bauxite. It produced silicon carbide (“carborundum”) which it shipped to an Exolon plant in Tonawanda, New York. There, the material was crushed and graded, then sold for use in the abrasive paper, refractory and metal industries.

The crew is likely rolling the covered hopper over the small track scale located on the track closest to the canal. In the first image, the scale to the right, just out of the frame. In the second picture, it’s behind the covered hopper.

(*Subsequent to posting this, I found the same image – in black and white – in the second book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen. I’ve updated the caption accordingly.)

Thorold Map – labelled

I have posted some photos of Thorold to this blog already, and plan to post many more over the next few days – so I realized that sharing a map of the railway in this town would be a good idea. Here it is:

NS&T - Thorold Map - Labelled

This is the 1920 NS&T Property Plan for Thorold – which I have revised and labelled to the best of my knowledge. You should be able to right click on the map and open it in a separate window to view it in a larger format.

This map nicely shows the relationship between the NS&T and the Old (second) Welland Canal. It also shows the relationship between the “High Line”, the station, the freight shed, the yard, and Substation Junction. North is to the right.

The area is vastly different today. The “High Line” is gone. So is the station and all the trackage from the north end down to Lynden Street. The Trillium Railway operates the trackage across the south (left) edge of this map – but the track arrangement is very different. The Pine Street trackage was in place until recently (but the track arrangement at the paper plant was very different than what’s shown on this map).

The biggest change? The town of Thorold filled in the Old Welland Canal in the 1960s. Part of it around Lock 25 is a park and the walls of the lock have been preserved. The rest of it, and most of the abandoned right of way, has been built over.

NS&T 130 – Thorold Yard

In a post I published yesterday, I mentioned the NS&T’s freight house and section house in Thorold. Here’s a better look at the latter, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 13 - Thorold Yard

NS&T 130 – Thorold yard. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken looking north: Car 130 is headed southbound through the yard south of the Thorold station. For those who want to know more about the 130-series, I’ve shared several photos of them previously on this blog. What I’ll add here is that I browsed through some of my NS&T books, noting dates of photographs, and the NS&T repainted this car into the cream-over-red scheme sometime between July 24/48 and August 24/52.

The section house – or speeder shed – is the white building at the left. Just behind Car 130, also to the left, is a small white building: that’s a railway track scale, used for weighing cars loaded by nearby customers. Given the number of industries in the Thorold area, it’s not surprising that a scale would be located here. Note the light on the pole to the left of the scale house, to help crew read the reporting marks on cars as they’re being weighed.

Between the speeder shed and scale house, a portion of the out-of-service second Welland Canal can be seen.

To the right of Car 130, in the foreground, there’s a second track for the freight yard and a spur. A reprint of the 1938 Employee Time Table suggests the spur serves “A Martin & Son”, a lumber, mill work and coal dealer. The white building in distance, where the track curves to the left, is the NS&T freight house in Thorold. It did not have a siding: packages were transferred from express cars or combines directly off the main track.

With its compact yard, collection of railway buildings, and proximity to a water feature, Thorold is very modelgenic – yet also practical to model. It’s high on my list of places to incorporate into any layout I build based on the NS&T…

NS&T 31 – northbound at Thorold

In addition to its eclectic collection of passenger equipment and freight motors, the NS&T also had some interesting work equipment. As I work my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, I’m enjoying these non-revenue generating but essential pieces. Here’s an example:

NS&T 31 - Thorold

NS&T 31 – Thorold (station). Photographer and date unknown.

The NS&T had two line cars – 30 and 31. Here’s 31 passing the Thorold station as it works northbound on a late autumn or early spring day.

Number 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.

This image presents a nice overview of the the relationship between the various components that make up the NS&T’s presence in town. The Thorold station is out of view to the left of the photographer: Behind and to the left of the line car – just ahead of the automobile – one can see the switch for the station’s layover spur. At the far left, in the middle distance, a string of boxcars stands in the small yard, while above the front wheel of the automobile, the sloped roof is the NS&T’s Thorold freight house.

A small white shed in the distance is likely a section house, while the large dark building in the distance, just to the left of 31 – is the railway’s substation at Thorold.

The out-of-service second Welland Canal is to the right of the platform. I really like the ornate railing and lamps: While I’m sure the woman standing on the platform would rather see her passenger train than the 31, it appears to be a lovely day to wait for a ride on the NS&T. But it’ll likely turn cooler shortly: The afternoon shadows are quite long…

NS&T 20 – Port Colborne

I’ve shared a lot of images of equipment in the north end of the NS&T system. Let’s look at the south end now…

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. In a post a couple of days ago, I shared a photo of a freight headed to Port Colborne. Let’s go back to the south end of the Welland Division now:

NS&T 20 - Port Colborne

NS&T 20 and CNR caboose – Port Colborne. Photographer and date unknown.

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.

This location is identified by John Wigt in a similar photo as the “layover spur” in Port Colborne. This is the present location of Princess Street, between King and Catherine. There was a business on the lot across King Street, where the 7-Eleven convenience store is now located.

The following photo shows the same house in the above photo in more recent days. It’s now the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum:

Port Colborne - Layover Siding - Google Streetview

Location of NS&T layover siding, Port Colborne – Google Streetview 2014

Comparing these two photos, it’s clear the NS&T layover siding must’ve run where this segment of Princess Street is now located.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Gregory Ayres, I’ve now learned that’s incorrect. Greg contacted me via the comments for this post and I took another look. I also consulted maps and vintage aerial photos of Port Colborne, including those at Brock University and at the Niagara Region Navigator. Based on this, I’ve concurred with Gregory that Princess Street existed to the north of the tracks. Here are some aerial views:

Port Colborne - layover - Aerial photo 1934

Close-up of 1934 Aerial Photo – Niagara Region Navigator.

I have labelled Princess Street and the CNR depot. The track closest to the depot is the CNR line, while the NS&T is the next line to the north. An NS&T passenger car is in front of the CNR depot – as evidenced by the shadow it casts. Note the NS&T line comes in from the north on the left side, curving east to parallel the CNR, then curves north again at the canal (extreme right edge).

(As an aside, on the south side of the CNR line just west of the depot, there’s a large structure and two spurs entering the property from the west. That’s the CNR freight shed. At least seven boxcars are spotted at the shed and in the team area behind it.)

Based on the 1934 aerial photo, here’s an aerial courtesy of Google Street View, on which I’ve drawn in some trackage:


Princess Street, Port Colborne – Google Street View.

The white lines represent the NS&T main track and layover spur. The NS&T also had a crossover in this area to connect with the CNR. CNR lines are drawn in green. The CNR freight shed would’ve been in the large parking lot on the south side of the tracks – and I’ve included a pair of lines to represent the approximate locations of the spurs serving it. The CNR station is out of view to the right.

I based the updated location of the layover track, in part, on a second photo of NS&T 20 from the collection I recently acquired:

NST20+CN77234 - Port Colborne

NS&T 20 and CNR 77234 – Port Colborne. Photographer and date unknown.

The building at left, in the shade, is the red building seen in the preceding photo. There are vehicles parked in front of it, and obviously they would access this parking area via Princess Street. The weed-covered track in front of the freight motor is the NS&T main track, while the well-groomed track in the lower right corner is the CNR main track.

As explained elsewhere, any CNR vans assigned to an electric line such as the NS&T would’ve had their caboose stoves grounded for safety under the overhead wire, so once they were so assigned they would tend to stay on the property. Therefore, CNR 77234 would’ve been a regular visitor to Port Colborne.

This broader view illustrates the relationship between the house (now museum), Princess Street, the parking area on the south side of Princess (formerly the NS&T RoW), and the the CNR track and station (at right).

Port Colborne - NS&T and CNR - GSV

Port Colborne – Princess Street and CNR station – Google Streetview 2014

Today, the CNR track swings north onto the line that used to belong to the NS&T. The lift bridge at the extreme right carries Clarence Street over the canal. At one time, the CNR had its own lift bridge to the left of this one.

Port Colborne was the site of Robin Hood Flour Mills – a major customer for the NS&T. I discussed the mill in an earlier post.

NS&T passenger service at Woodruffs

When I was in high school, and living near the General Motors plant on Ontario Street in St. Catharines, the remains of the NS&T were still active as part of the CNR system – but, of course, only as a freight line. The CNR would deliver boxcars to two locations in the plant – and that’s it. It was wonderful to live so close (but not too close) to full-size railroading in the streets, but it sure didn’t provide variety.

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, back in the NS&T days this plant had more trackage, and received a greater variety of equipment. There were also other customers in the area, all fed off a small passing siding located between Ontario and Louisa Street and known as Woodruffs.

At one time, this area also saw frequent passenger service, as Louisa and Woodruffs were part of the route used by NS&T cars to reach Port Dalhousie. I found several examples of this in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 310 Crossing Ontario Street

NST 310 crossing Ontario Street, St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

This car is headed inbound from Port Dalhousie. Once it crosses the street, it will enter Woodruffs. There are lots of neat details in this photograph.

The small structure at right is an NS&T passenger shelter. It appears similar to one that was frequently photographed at Dainsville – on the Welland Division, just north of Port Colborne.

The building behind the 310 is WS Tyler – which was a customer of the railway in the 1950s. Not seen, but also in this area, are two spurs headed to the right to serve McKinnon Industries and McKinnon Columbus Chain.

The curved track in the lower right is the line entering Ontario Street from Woodruffs. It heads north to serve west plant of McKinnon Industries, and then curves east alongside Carleton Avenue to reach the back of McKinnon’s east plant.

If the photographer backed up about 600 feet and shot another photo, it would look something like this:

NST 312 at Woodruffs

NS&T 312 at Woodruffs, St. Catharines – Photographer and date unknown.

This car is also inbound to St. Catharines from Port Dalhousie. It’s on the main track at Woodruffs – a siding approximately 600 feet long tucked on an angle between Ontario and Thomas Streets. The track to the right is the siding, which then curves onto Ontario Street and runs north as previously described. There’s another switch, beyond the crossover, which heads to through the bushes to the right to serve the RM Stokes coal dealer, which was tucked in a triangle of land between Woodruffs, Lowell Avenue, and Thomas Street.

NS&T 312 is the omega car 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 platforms on the roofs to allow the poles on shorter cars to reach the wire) and otherwise retrofitted for service on the Port Dalhousie line. Since the cars in these photos are so equipped, these photos were taken after 1948. Buses replaced the trolleys to Port Dalhousie on March 1st, 1950. All Cincinnati cars were eventually scrapped.

Note the city bus running on Ontario Street, directly ahead of the siding.

Port Dalhousie was a popular destination. It featured a nice beach, a dance pavilion, and other attractions. The line could be quite busy in the nice weather – as this final look at Woodruffs attests:

NST 80 plus 300-series cars - Woodruffs

NS&T 80 plus two Cincinnati cars at Woodruffs – Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was shot from Ontario Street, looking the opposite direction from the previous two. Car 80 is taking the crossover out of the siding and back onto the main to continue onto Port Dalhousie. It’s likely the unidentified Cincinnati car behind it will follow along. Just barely visible at the extreme right of the photo is the reason for their wait in the hole: another NS&T car – likely a Cincinnati model – headed inbound to downtown St. Catharines.

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, into the configuration seen here.

The track to the right of 82 is the spur into RM Stokes.

While short, the Woodruffs siding was important as a run-around track into the CNR era. I remember watching CNR crews in the 1980s use these two tracks as a small yard to store cars for one GM plant while working the other one. It must’ve been even busier when freights needed to keep out of the way of the traffic to and from Port Dalhousie.

Here’s a photo to help make sense of all of this:

NST - McKinnons - Aerial Photo

1955 aerial photo showing Ontario Street and Woodruffs, from the Brock University online collection

NS&T High Line – Thorold

This is an example of something I never knew existed on the NS&T, because it was gone long before I explored the railway…

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt – and I thought I’d share some of the images that speak strongly to me about the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. In yesterday’s post, I shared a photo of the Lock 1 bascule bridge that carried the NS&T over the Welland Canal at Port Weller. This photo takes us back to Thorold – but still up in the air:

NS&T High Line, Thorold

NS&T “High Line”, Thorold – Photographer and date unknown.

North of the Thorold station, the NS&T main line between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls vaulted onto a long stretch of trestles, bridges and fill to speed through Thorold. It was called the High Line (and as the name suggests, there was also a Low Line, which took local services through Thorold streets).

This picture was shot in a similar location to a black and white photo in the first NS&T book by Andrew Panko and Peter Bowen. We’re just to the west of Front Street, running behind the buildings on that thoroughfare. We’re looking north, and the white and blue automobile is driving east on Albert Street. The tall building at the left is the old firehall, on Albert at Ekins Lane.

This area has changed dramatically. The remains of the second Welland Canal (1845-1915) used to parallel the NS&T, out of view to the left of the image. It ran between Front and Pine Streets, and was a source of water and power for paper mills in the area. With the disappearance of the NS&T and a number of the industries it served in Thorold, the town filled in the waterway in the early 1960s. A number of new buildings have been built on that reclaimed land, as well as on the NS&T right of way.

My collection includes several photos taken in and around Thorold. I will have to share more of those as I get to them…