Saturday, 12 November 2016

TH&B Railway Historical Society Fall Meet

THB/OSR 51 was definitely the star of the show as far as many Society members were concerned.  It is currently not in operating condition.
Illustrated Report by Peter Mumby

The mainline of the Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo Railway stretched from Hamilton to Welland in the Niagara Peninsula region of Southern Ontario.  Wholly owned by neighbouring giants Canadian Pacific and New York Central, THB totally relied on its connections with CP at Hamilton and with the Canada Southern subsidiary of NYC at Welland for furtherance to its terminals of Toronto and Buffalo respectively.  Along with extensive industrial trackage in the Hamilton area, branchlines and running rights also took THB trains to Brantford, Waterford, and Port Maitland.  Altogether, the TH&B represented a real "layout-sized" prototype.

The afternoon of Sept. 25,2016 was the time;  the OSR shop at Salford, Ontario was the place.
The first diesel locomotive, NW2 #51, arrived on the property in 1947.  Also built by EMD in 1947 were switchers #52-54.  Subsequent units (SW9, GP7, and GP9) were ordered from the new General Motors Diesel plant in London, Ontario.  As a matter of fact, GP7s #71 and 72 were the first completed units to emerge from GMD.  These locomotives served the TH&B throughout the balance of its existence, which ended in the 1980s when the railway was folded into CP Rail.  The railroad was a long time fan favourite, and remains so to this day under the auspices of the TH&B Historical Society.

The Society's fall meet this year was held at the Ontario Southland's shop in Salford, Ontario.  OSR units share the TH&B's maroon and cream colour scheme, and it is interesting to note that the first locomotive purchased by OSR president Jeff Willsie was ex-THB #51.  The meet kicked of with an informative overview of OSR history and operations presented by VP Brad Joliffe.  The OSR initiated operations 24 years ago as a contract switcher in the Mississauga area, and subsequently expanded to take over the Guelph Junction Railway, along with CP's Port Burwell and St. Thomas subdivisions.  Along with its principal shop at Salford, there is a smaller facility at Guelph Junction.  Most of OSR's collection of 35 first generation locomotives are stationed at these two shops, with a few others stored at Mt. Elgin and Tillsonburg.

Ex-CP Superintendent's car 24 is privately owned by Brad Joliffe and occasionally used as an OSR business car.

After Brad's introduction to the OSR, attention turned to Society chairman John Spring, who presented a detailed talk on the CP connection with THB at Hamilton.  CP forwarded THB/NYC passenger trains to Toronto Union Station using trackage rights on the CN Oakville Subdivision.  Freights used the same route as far as Canpa, where they swung onto CP trackage. 

Throughout the meet time, the Salford shops were fully open for inspection and photography.  There was ample space to manoeuvre, as many of the locomotives had been pulled out into the yard and positioned for display.  This was my first opportunity to attend a TH&B Historical Society meet, and I was greatly impressed by the turnout, content, and organization.

OSR 500, an S6 built by ALCo 11/56 (ex-Vancouver Wharves) snuggles up to UP 9444.  Some contract work is performed on the property.  Both the UP and the CITX locomotives are having electrical modifications performed by a London firm.

Check the fine print and you will note that ex-THB 51 is actually an OSR unit.

Here we see a nice assortment of maroon and cream units. 383 and 378 are ex-Soo GP7s, while 183 is an ex-Inco RS18.

A full time crew of six employees work on the locomotives in the Salford shop.  Many OSR hires are retired from CP, so the level of experience is high.  The cocooned unit in the background is ex-CP 1594, soon to emerge as another nicely-painted OSR specimen.

Compare the "real" THB paint scheme to the more recent OSR adaptation.  #503 in the background is ex-CP 8029, an RS23(MLW 8/60).
The venue of the actual meeting was the interior of the Salford shop.  The screen is set up for John Spring's presentation.  Brad Joliffe (wearing the reflective vest) is ready to introduce the OSR to more than 50 attendees.  Can you imagine a better backdrop for a railroad meeting than the 6508?  Is this the THB FP9 that never was?

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