Friday, June 13, 2008

Niagara Falls, then and now: 1967 map

(Click on photos to enlarge!) Above: This cairn is located on the south-west corner of Morrison St. and Stanley Ave. in Niagara Falls.
It reads: "To commemorate the Erie and Ontario Railway between Queenston and Chippawa. The first railway in Upper Canada, built 1831-1841. This cairn erected 1931 on original line."


Below: Looking northwards at the remnants of the Erie and Ontario Railway/ later Michigan Central railroad bridge which once crossed the Welland River in Chippawa on its way from Niagara Falls to Fort Erie/Buffalo. The Erie and Ontario tracks had earlier gone from the Queenston dock to Slater's dock at Chippawa; later tracks extensions were made from Chippawa to Fort Erie, and from Queenston to Niagara-on-the-lake.  The red striped chimney is on the site of the Norton Abrasives Plant in Chippawa, which in 1942-45 provided significant research as part of the Manhattan Project.

Above: Looking northward, just past the Norton plant, the former EandO/MCR track is still seen (far centre-left) between Niagara Falls and Chippawa; Marineland rides can be seen in the distance. Photos taken Apr.9, 2008, by R. Bobak.
Below: Remains of the south abutment of the Erie and Ontario (later Michigan Central, later New York Central) railroad line which ran from Chippawa/Niagara Falls to Niagara On The Lake. This extension of the Erie and Ontario down to NOTL was opened on July 3, 1854, after the line was rebuilt to an easier grade by Samuel Zimmerman, who converted the line from having horse-pulled cars on iron-strapped-rails, to a steam-locomotive-powered line.  The Erie and Ontario's sole steam locomotive was the 4-4-0 Clifton, from the Amoskeag Co. of Manchester, New Hampshire. The bridge shown here once crossed York Rd. (at Concession 2) at a sharp angle as it climbed southwards up the side of the Escarpment. View below is looking in a south-west direction. The old right of way is now a walking trail. Above: The same E&O/MCR/NYC right of way (centre of photo, where the trees are), at intersection of Line 9 (to the right) and Concession 1 (to the bottom), not far from the bridge in last photo. This view is looking south, with the Escarpment in the distance. After crossing the railway bridge over York Rd. at Con. 2, (which in the above picture would be to the far right in distance), the tracks gently curved down at a north-easterly angle towards Con. 1. Above, the tracks would have crossed the intersection of Line 9 and Con. 1, and then paralleled Con.1 (on the east side) all the way north in a straight line to NOTL. (see map here)

Shown below: Dept. of Energy, Mines, and Resources map, produced in 1967. Interestingly, this map still shows Highway 8 (York Rd.) at Queenston crossing the Niagara River to Lewiston into the United States (it closed in 1963!) This is where the old Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge had been located. The map also shows the 405 crossing the Niagara River over the new Queenston-Lewiston bridge.
Note the "abandoned" railways marked on the map - the former E and O / MCR / New York Central is shown going south from downtown Niagara On The Lake and curving up the escarpment. (See photos above)

Another NYC rail line shown abandoned is seen south of Chippawa that used to run to Fort Erie.
(see photos above)

Another is the line that ran from Niagara Falls, (a little south of, and parallel to, Thorold Stone Rd.) directly west towards the Welland Canal. This once was the Niagara Central Railway, which in 1899 was sold to the NST, and was electrified to run streetcars from Niagara Falls to Thorold, then north to St.Catharines.

Another abandoned line shown was seen in west-end St. Catharines running towards east Port Dalhousie. Another is shown abandoned in the northend running parallel to the Welland Canal.

Another is shown as "electrified" running parallel to and slightly west of the canal, in St.Catharines'  north end; it can still be seen today as a bike trail running north-south (running in-between Bunting Ave. and Grantham Ave.) and used to be called the Lakeshore Spur. I still remember this as a working rail track, only decomissioned approx. late 1990's (?) Along here once ran a streetcar line that ran from downtown St. Catharines, by way of Facer St., past Grantham Ave., turning north to Port Weller, crossing the canal at Lakeshore Rd.,, and then running east all the way to Niagara On The Lake, where it met the MCR tracks at Queen and King Sts. Interestingly, electric streetcars ran from St.Catharines to NOTL, but not trains; yet from NOTL to Niagara Falls there was a train (Erie and Ontario/MCR), but there was never any electric streetcar service. The streetcars which headed north from Niagara Falls only went as far as the Queenston docks at the foot of the Escarpment; they never went all the way to NOTL. By the way, what in St. Catharines was "Ryderville", as seen on the map? I'd never heard of it!

Also, another "electrified" line (former NST, later owned by CN) is shown running from Thorold, through Fonthill, to Welland - how neat was that, to be able to take a streetcar to all these places. If you follow these old routes from Google Earth, in many cases these track right-of-ways are still clearly visible.

Couldn't these right-of-ways be restored and used once again for interurban streetcar service?
(click on photos to enlarge!)

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