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.)

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 21 – Humberstone

A reader commented that the NS&T seemed very urban compared to the types of model railways I’ve built in the past – including my Port Rowan in 1:64 layout and the earlier Maine On2 projects. And it’s true – there’s a more urban feel to the NS&T. But it had its share of open country running, too: Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 21 - Humberstone

NS&T 21 between Dainsville and Humberstone. Photographer and date unknown.

NS&T 21 was built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston, Ontario in 1927 as Montreal and Southern Counties 327. The NS&T acquired this locomotive in 1941 and scrapped it when electric freight service ended in 1960. At 60 tons, it was not only the heaviest freight motor on the NS&T, but also the railway’s heaviest piece of equipment.

We’re looking north in this photo, on the Welland Division line. The train is working south – the crew member on the locomotive is assisting with “back-poling” – towards Port Colborne. Based on the photo description and the 1930 Employee Time Table reprinted in the revised John Mills book, this is the 1,087-foot siding between MP 16.20 and 16.40, just north of Humberstone.

With that long train of boxcars in tow, the crew is likely headed towards the Robin Hood Flour Mill in Humberstone (the north part of Port Colborne). Located on the west bank of the Welland Canal and reached by a spur that left the mainline between Courtland and Omer Avenues, the mill had six tracks and was a major customer: in the peak season, the NS&T could switch 70-100 cars during the day shift, and many were headed for Robin Hood.

NST 16 – Welland Canal

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 an image of NS&T freight motor 16. Here’s another one:

NST 16 - Welland Canal

NS&T 16 and train cross the bridge over the Welland Canal at Thorold, Ontario – Date and photographer unknown.

This train is on the Main Line that connected Port Dalhousie to Niagara Falls. Given the shadows, we’re facing east, and the rail line on the far bank (barely visible just to the left of the locomotive pilot, though the bridge) is the spur north off the Main Line to Walker’s Quarry. The Main Line was cut back to Shriner’s (just east of the Welland Canal) in April 1948 – seven months after the NS&T’s rail passenger service ended to the Honeymoon Capital Of The World. Walker’s Quarry – mentioned in yesterday’s post – would become the easternmost customer on the Main Line and continue to receive rail service until this bridge was removed in 1964.

That said, it’s hard to tell what freight cars this crew is working. They appear too tall to be CNR GS gondolas, as seen in yesterday’s picture – and too tall for hopper cars. If they’re boxcars, I’m not sure what they’d be doing east of the canal…

NST 16 – Substation Junction

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. A few days ago, I shared a photo of a passenger train at Substation Junction. This photo was taken in almost the same location.

NST 16 - Substation Junction

NS&T freight motor 16 with a string of CNR GS gons at Substation Junction – Date and photographer unknown.

The crew is likely shoving these cars across the Welland Canal bridge en route to Walker’s Quarry on the east side of the canal. As with the earlier photo referenced above, the track its on is the mainline to Niagara Falls. The photographer is standing on the south leg of the wye that marked the connection to the Welland Division. The substation – for which the junction was named – would be behind the photographer.

NS&T 16 was the second #16 on the line. The 50-ton motor was built by National Steel Car in 1918 for the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway. The NS&T acquired it in 1926 and rebuilt it with a new cab in 1930. When the CNR dropped the NS&T’s wires in 1960 in favour of diesel power, the 16 was transferred to the Oshawa Railway. In 1965, it was sold to Noranda Mines Limited.

Walker’s Quarry is now a garbage dump.

NS&T 14: switching on St. Paul

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. Here’s one:

NS&T freight - St. Paul Street

NS&T 14 with a cut of cars on St. Paul Street – Date and photographer unknown.

The photographer took this image just west of Geneva Street in St. Catharines. We’re looking northwest. (For those who know St. Catharines well, the white building behind the train is the building that’s now occupied by Herzog’s – the men’s clothing store. And behind the boxcar at the end of the train, you’re looking at the building that would later house Niagara Central Hobbies. One of the best model railway stores in North America at one time, it never made the transition to the online economy and closed a few years ago.)

I’m told the car in the foreground is a 1952-53 model, so it was taken after that.

I love this photo – it’s the sort of railroading that appeals to me. This is a switch crew, working a short cut of cars, under wire, on trackage up the middle of a city street. When I was growing up in St. Catharines, I saw similar (although diesel-powered) trains every day, working the General Motors plant on Ontario Street. Other than the overhead wire, it was just like this.

I had some trouble pinning down exactly what this crew was doing on St. Paul, however. I didn’t know of any industries along the street – I thought it was solely a passenger-carrying line. (The city bus next to the steeple cab shows that the streetcars had been abandoned by this time.) So I posted the photo to the NS&T Facebook group, and the Niagara History and Trivia Facebook group, and got some answers. (Thanks to everyone who contributed!)

It turns out that there was a factory at the south end of Phelps Street (now Riordan Street) that was an NS&T customer. There are various thoughts about the identify of the customer – including English Electric, Resin-Tex Limited, Eaton Yale, and Ferranti-Packard. (Eaton Yale or Ferranti-Packard may make the most sense: those companies had foundry operations, which would explain the gondola cars in the train.)

As the saying goes, “getting there is half the fun”. Switching Phelps Street required a lot of backing and frothing. I’ve illustrated this by adding labels to an aerial photograph of the area:


Aerial Photograph, downtown St. Catharines, 1955 – From the Brock University online collection

St. Paul and Geneva - Aerial 1955

(As above, without the labels.)

Cars for this customer would’ve come out of the Eastchester Yard, west onto Welland Avenue, south down Geneva Street, and then west on St. Paul Street. That’s where the photo of Number 14 was taken. At this point, the crew is likely preparing to swap ends with the trolley pole: either that, or the crew member holding the pole’s rope is preparing to guide the pole as the train back-poles. (I’m told the track on St. Paul was cut back to Court Street – which is the gap between the buildings over the second gondola car. On the photo, I’ve ended my sketch of the line at Court.)

The train would then pull east on St. Paul and onto Queenston Street and run past Phelps Street before switching direction again and heading south on Phelps to the factory.

For those unfamiliar with St. Catharines, Welland, Geneva, St. Paul and Queenston are all major streets with a lot of vehicle traffic. It would’ve been a real challenge to switch this safely.

If I go ahead with the NS&T layout project, I know I will want to model some scenes where freight ran through the street, so this picture is a real inspiration.

NS&T 18: Hang on…

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

NST 18 - The Riveter

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

NST 18 - hiding in the box

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

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

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

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

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

NS&T 18: It’s here somewhere…

NST 18 - prototype photo

A couple of years ago, while attending the annual S Scale Social organized by my friend Jim Martin, I purchased this collection from another friend, David Clubine:

Baldwin-Westinghouse Class D kit

It’s just about everything I need to build a model of Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto 18 in 1:64.

The three frets on the right are from Model Railroad Warehouse, and build into a basic body for a Baldwin-Westinghouse Class D freight motor. The parts on the left are from my friend William Flatt, and are most of what’s needed to finish the unit. (William has built one and it ends up being a very nice model.)

Now… if only I could find it.

I spent the morning tearing through my storage tubs under my layout, and so far I’ve turned up nothing. I’m pretty sure it was in a box, but it might have been in an envelope – in which case I’m going to have to do a complete re-sort of the Home Hobby Shop to figure out where it has gone.

It’s only 1:40pm as I type this, but TV is looking pretty good right about now…