Tonight’s Throwback Thursday features a shot of TH&B #71 westbound in front of the road’s station at Smithville, Ontario. The scan is from an undated Kodak negative from my collection, purchase a few months ago at a local train show (photographer unknown). Though we don’t have an exact date for the photo, we have a reasonable idea of when the photo was taken – before February 12, 1980. That’s that date when the locomotive – famously, the first Canadian-assembled engine built at General Motors’ London, ON plant – was destroyed in a fiery collision with a tractor trailer just outside of Welland, ON. But on this date, the engine appears unaware of its’ impending fate as it heads north (geographically west) with tonnage from US connections at Buffalo or Montrose, headed for Hamilton and maybe even Toronto. Finding a set of pure TH&B power was indeed a treat, particularly in the roads’ later years when increasing corporate influence by owner CP became evident in the number of CP units powering the railway’s trains.
Smithville, 20 miles southeast of Hamilton on what is now Canadian Pacific’s Hamilton subdivision, was once the junction with the Dunnville subdivision which ran 20 miles south through its’ namesake town to the Lake Erie waterfront town of Port Maitland, and the Erco (now Innophos Canada) phosphate plant therein. Unit trains of phosphate rock from Florida (“rock trains”) were steady traffic for a number of years on the TH&B, and along with unit sulfuric acid trains, generated good business for the branch. At one time, a car ferry provided the TH&B with American connections on the opposite shore of Lake Erie. A passing siding at Smithville still exists, and is the only place between Welland and Kinnear for the CP dispatcher to meet trains now that the Vinemount siding has been removed. Also removed was the wye at Smithville with the Dunnville branch; cut back in 2001 due to several wooden bridges being in poor condition, CP elected to revive a portion of the old CASO line between Welland and the od location where the Dunnville branch crossed the CASO at grade (E&O crossing). A short connector track was built in the southeast quadrant of the crossing to join the two lines, with service to the phosphate plant now originating out of Welland instead of Hamilton. The 9.5 miles between E&O crossing and Smithville were subsequently abandoned and removed (even the overhead steel bridge over #20 highway in Smithville was removed). Happily though, the Smithville TH&B station still stands in its’ original location to this day, carefully preserved and in good condition.
‘Til next time,