Chambers’ Corner Revisited

Where Rails and Water Meet (Photo by Bob Chambers)

Photographing A City Motto …………….

By Bob Chambers

This photograph taken in 1968 (or maybe 1969) was my attempt to bring to life the City of Welland motto of that era — “Where Rails And Water Meet”. To take the picture I rode the New York Central Railroad swing bridge just north of the Broadway Avenue lift bridge, as both opened for a ship to pass.

I had preconceived that the rails and ship would line up and  somehow look like they could actually connect in some fashion. Well, just a couple of clicks on my Pentax and it worked. I didn’t have to try it again from another angle.

After this ran in the Tribune, a colleague chided me for being  too much of a flag-waver for the city …..  he even envisioned  the Chamber of Commerce writing the caption and driving me  to the bridge, while city council cheered from the shore as I  took the photo.

Looking back now to that period in Welland’s history …. I wasn’t  flag waving, I was simply stating a fact. Rails and Water did meet in Welland then. The rails in this picture carried freight of three railroads to all points in North America. Every day. While the ships, like this “saltie,” travelled the world. Welland was connected. Just beyond the picture, in the shadow of that lift bridge, lay the  Welland South Dock, or was it called the Union Carbide Dock?  There trains came to the water’s edge and exchanged cargo  with ships.

At that time six railroads served the city, and many days a total of a hundred or more freight cars were loaded or unloaded at numerous city industries. Yes, we were a huge rail city, and at the  same time the namesake city of the Welland Canal, part of the greatest inland waterway in the world.

Me, a flag waver? I think not. I was simply a bearer of the truth. But as this picture was being taken, you could have almost heard  the roar of huge earthmovers at work digging the new canal channel that would, in a few short years move the canal, not out of the city, but almost out of sight to the east side. Trains, would no longer meet the ships, but would sneak, unseen in a tunnel, underneath the  new channel. And this rerouting of the rail lines will almost eliminate major traffic problems on our streets.

So, four years later, in 1972, Welland would essentially lose the ships, along with most of the trains, and the traffic tie-ups caused by both.  Yet now, almost 50 years later (for those of us who remember) wouldn’t you actually recall those days of playing “bridge tag”, or “railway roulette”,  as the “good old days”? Or were we just younger and ‘foolisher’?

– Bob Chambers, Tribune photographer 1957-1970.

Comments are invited and appreciated by the photographer. You can comment directly on the site.

Editor’s note: Chambers’ Corner appeared on the blog a few years ago as a recurring feature, this submission in June, 2015. It is presented here unchanged. The series has been rebranded Chambers’ Corner Revisited and is appearing at the request of readers. It appears on the blog Wednesdays.

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