By TERRY HUGHES
Imagine having access to most of the major communities in the Niagara Region using a system that was in use a century ago. One could take a trolley from one end of the peninsula to the other and enjoy the amenities of each district it served. Such was the rail system called the N. S. & T.
Originally built to accommodate the community of St. Catharines, the builders saw a great opportunity to expand the idea of moving people and freight to areas that were inaccessible to existing forms of land transportation. It would also connect with most of the railways here. With the development of hydro-electricity, this system could plug into this new technology offering a pollution free source of energy while tapping into the increasing industrial base that was emerging in Niagara.
For Wellanders the line reached here around 1910 and was halted from further expansion by the widening of the New York Central through here and the placement of the new double tracked swing bridge in the south end. Already, people attending the Welland Fair could be dropped off near the grandstand. Later, the expansion of Welland High School into a vocational institute, not offered in other schools, would allow students to travel to here and followed by a short walk from the station, arrive at the high school. Stations and shelters in the Welland area were from Stop 19 at Thorold Rd. to Stop 23 at Broadway. West side industries served by the line included Clemens and Miller, Commonwealth Electric, Imperial Oil and Crowland Ice and Coal.
Today, if the line still existed, you could swim in either lake, frequent all the malls in the area, enjoy an evening at the canal concert series, gambling at the casinos or a leisurely trip to Toronto on one of its ships from Pt. Dalhousie. Unfortunately, progress had its way and now this railway is part of our local history.
Next month: A Christmas Gift from the past.
(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading.)