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 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: A postcard view of the Geneva Street terminal

NS&T Terminal - Postcard

This is a terrific view of the main terminal building for the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway. It shows off the design of the building quite well, having been photographed after most of the leaves had fallen out of the trees: In the summer, the building would’ve been obscured in the greenery.

Built by the CNR in 1923 and opened in 1924, the terminal faced Geneva Street. The NS&T’s head offices were located on the upper floor, while a ticket office and waiting room occupied the street level. It had three stub tracks and three through tracks on the north (far) side of the building, running parallel to Balfour Street. There’s a good map of the terminal trackage on page 48 of the revised book by John Mills.

The terminal was designed to accommodate trains on the Lake Shore, Welland, and Grantham Divisions, as well as the Main Line to Niagara Falls. City cars would provide connections to the downtown, just to the west. However, Mills notes the terminal was never used as intended. Few runs originated or terminated here and Welland Division trains never used it. In later years, photos show the platform tracks sometimes occupied by maintenance of way equipment.

The terminal later housed a Bank of Montreal branch and a business (secretarial) school. It was demolished in (I believe) the 1990s to make way for a strip mall. (Ironically, the mall’s tenants currently include a “Subway” restaurant.)

It’s difficult to see, but there are at least two pieces of NS&T equipment, including a line car, occupying the platform area at right.

In a future post, I’ll share an image of the platform area.

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.

NS&T: 80+31 at Exolon

Many photos were taken of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway and most of the best ones have been published – often several times. But occasionally, a rare one pops up. That’s the case with this photo, which I found in the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST80+31 - Thorold (Exolon)

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

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

Car 80 was a one-off. The second car to carry this number on the NS&T, it was built in 1915 by Kuhlman. The 57′-6″ car weighed 69,740 pounds and could accommodate 64 passengers. The car was originally a combine, but was rebuilt in 1939 to remove the baggage compartment. It was further rebuilt in 1941 after a collision with Car 82.

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

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

Aaron noted:

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

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

Exolon - 1965 - Aerial (Brock U)

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

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

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

Power station at Exolon - Google Satellite.

Queen Street and Highway 58 – Thorold. Google Satellite

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

NST sweeper 23 – Thorold

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 23 - Coal Track, Thorold Yard

NS&T 23 – Thorold. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T 23 is a single truck McGuire-Cummins sweeper, built for the Toronto Suburban railway in 1913. The NS&T acquired it in 1924. Sometime in the 1950s, I believe, it was painted into the very visible orange scheme shown here. The 23 was 27′-10″ long and weighed 32,100 pounds.

The sweeper is parked on the coal shed spur track in the small yard at Thorold. At one time, this was the A Martin & Sons coal dealer – but I’m not sure of ownership at the time this photo was taken. Ormond Street is in the background, and the brown and white church still exists.

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 – In and around the car barn

The car barn on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines played a critical role in keeping the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway in business – from servicing the line’s equipment, to building new equipment, to maintaining electric railway equipment for other members of the CNR electric lines family. So I’m pleased to have a number of images of the car barn among the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. Here are a few examples:

NST83 - Carbarn interior

NS&T 83, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T 83 slumbers in the car barn on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. I really like this photo – there’s just so much detail to absorb.

NS&T 83 + 620-series, car barn, St. Catharines

NS&T 83 + NS&T 622, St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

This photo, taken from the west side of the car barn, shows a pair of “modern” NS&T passenger cars being serviced. Car 83 is on the left, while Car 622 is on the right. Car 83 is on the same track that’s occupied by Car 82 in this photo:

NST82 - Car barn

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

NS&T 82 was built by the NS&T in 1925. It was to be the first of a series of 10 cars, but no others were built to its design. The 72-seat steel interurban was built on the standard underframe used for CNR self-propelled equipment. It was 61′-9″ long, weighed 80,000 pounds, and rode on 6′-6″ Baldwin trucks. Car 82 was rebuilt in 1956 for use in express service with the addition of freight doors, as seen in the above photo. It was scrapped in 1959.

The car barn was built by NS&T parent Canadian Northern (yes, Northern – a predecessor to the CNR) in the first decade of the 20th Century on land formerly occupied by a freight yard for the (steam-powered) Niagara Central Railway. By the mid-1920s, the Canadian National Railways had assumed ownership of the NS&T and other interurbans, and brought them together under the Canadian National Electric Railways operating unit.

CNER launched a modernization program which included the expansion of the car barn facility so that it could build equipment for all lines under the CNER umbrella – including the NS&T, the Toronto Suburban Railway, the Oshawa Railway, and the Montreal and Southern Counties. This shop also built and maintained battery powered and other self-propelled cars for the CNR. In addition to this work, in later years the talented mechanics on Welland Avenue also serviced the buses of Canadian National Transportation Limited. (In the photo of Car 82, it appears that the shop is doing this: note the lower-height door and lack of track in the right-most bay.)

The car barn occupied the east end of the block that’s now the home of the Midtown Plaza – running along the south side of Welland Avenue between Clark and Court Streets:

Carbarn - Aerial photo - 1955

NS&T – Car barn, Welland Avenue, St. Catharines – Aerial photo, 1955. From the Brock University online collection.

There’s a lot of activity in this space, and it’s a scene that would be satisfying to model as the photos in this post attest.