Thursday 28 November 2019

Throwback Thursday - Local Tank Cars and the London and Port Stanley Railway

HJMX 6002, part of the collection of the Port Stanley Terminal Railway, was photographed in the yard at Port Stanley.
By Peter Mumby.
Construction was started on the London and Port Stanley Railway (L&PS) in 1856.  Connecting London and St Thomas with Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie, its main purpose was to facilitate international trade with the U.S.  In its early years as a steam railroad, it was controlled at various times by the Great Western Railway, the Michigan Central, and the Pere Marquette, among others.  It was electrified in the 1912-1915 era, and ownership was transferred to the City of London.  This lasted until the mid-1960s when CN took over.  CN eventually abandoned the St Thomas-Port Stanley segment, which led to the formation of the tourist line, Port Stanley Terminal Railway(PSTR).  The St Thomas-London trackage was retained as the CN Talbot Subdivision.  After the closure of the St Thomas Ford plant and the loss of the automotive traffic, this was downgraded to the Talbot Spur and operated as an extension of London Yard trackage.

So, a capsule history of the L&PS is all well and good, but what does this have to do with tank cars?  In 1950 local entrepreneur Henry Joseph McManus established a company known as Sterling Fuels.  By 1953 the tank farms at Port Stanley were added to the portfolio, and soon strings of green tank cars loaded with home heating oil were headed north towards London behind boxcab electrics.  These cars carried HJMX reporting marks, based on the owner's initials.  (How is that for an idea for those of you with a freelanced model railroad?). The car in our photo has a built date of 8/20, so this equipment had seen a lot of use prior to the 1950s.

Jump ahead a few decades and you will find that a Canada Starch Company (CASCO) plant had been established on the Talbot Subdivision near the southern edge of London.  It is still in business today, and utilizes corn syrup tanks bearing a CASCO logo and reporting marks of lease companies such as PROCOR and UTLX.  Thirty years ago CASCO product was still being shipped in 1960s vintage tank cars bearing the company's own reporting mark, CSTX; these are the car types featured in today's other photos.

CSTX 44, built new in 7/67, was resting in the CN Racecourse Yard in London on November 10, 1991.  At this time, its capacity was measured in both litres and Imperial gallons.
CSTX 46 carries the more modern version of the CASCO logo.

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