Norwood and St. Lawrence and Essex Terminal Railways, Published 28 May 1946
'Cross Town with Cross
You could have knocked me over with an aspidistra when I discovered just the other day that there was a railway less than 50 miles from Ottawa that I had never heard of let alone ridden. It is the Norwood and St. Lawrence, and it runs from Norwood to Waddington, in New York. Now let's go back to the beginning, and start all over again.
I was riffling through the pages of my favorite reading, the Railway Guide, one day, just as a card shark palms aces for practice. Suddenly there leaped up out from the Guide at me, at page 123, the Norwood and St. Lawrence. The whole thing seemed incredible, that a real and proper railway should have existed all these years, within 50 miles of my home town, and that I should never have heard of it. For Wadding-ton is just across the St. Lawrence river from Morrisburg, and Morrisburg is about 47 miles from Ottawa. Hence, within 50 miles lay this extraordinary railway. I didn't sleep well till I had laid plans to ride it.
Thus you find me motoring to Waddington, then down a country highway, from which turnpike I swung east to a little dot on the map called Chase Mills. The station was deserted. A couple of boys were riding down the track on bicycles. Nobody was waiting for the train. I had the foolish feeling that maybe I was waiting for a train to run which had stopped operating years ago.
When finally 4.05 p.m. came and went, I was more dubious than ever. But railway timetables have a faculty of meaning what they say and if the little N and St. L was late, then it wouldn't be the first time a train was late.
Finally, about 4.07, she blew. There she was, coming round the bend, a one car combination baggage and passenger, with a fairly large engine hauling her. As she drew close, it turned out to be 210, a 2-6-0 type.
As we got aboard, our party proved to be the only passengers. The man in the blue suit, who had just got off, was the local school teacher. So in solitary splendor, my friend and I rode the Norwood and St. Lawrence.
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Conductor John Rupert was right glad to see us. An old Newington, Ont, boy, he said he was always pleased to see Canadians. We were pleased, on our side, to see Conductor Rupert. The brake-man was Vernon Cleary, while the engineer was Walter Claffey. It was a chummy crew, and we all got along fine.
From these men I learned that the N and St. L has been running about 40 years. It is owned by a paper company, and is a useful switching service for them. But its main function now is to haul milk to New York and Boston. One car each day goes to these centers, and the empty is lugged back at night. Thus you get six trains a day. Passenger business is negligible. But there was a day when two coaches were needed to handle all the people. Autre temps, autre moeurs.
The riding of the Norwood and St. Lawrence marked the 114th line for me. I never expected to ring up a new score so close to home.
For the benefit of those who may have wondered where No. 113 came in, I must break down and confess that recently, when in Windsor, I travelled on the Essex Terminal Railway. The E.T.R. has the extraordinarily good judgment to have a man by the name of A. Cross as president. The line is owned by Dominion Steel and Coal Company, and really goes no place. But in going no place, it uses 42 miles of track operating in and around the busy Windsor terminals. This is a sort of belt line, such as the Elgin Jollet and Eastern Railway which girdles Chicago. The Essex Terminal has engines 7, 8, 9. 10, 11 and 12. I rode No. 9 with Garnet Craig as engineer, and Carl Washbrook as fireman. An old Ottawa boy, A. St. Clair Ryley, general manager, facilitated my trip, and I was tucked aboard old No. 9 by Chief Engineer S. E. McGorman.
It becomes harder and harder to find new Canadian lines, on which I have not travelled. But the Essex Terminal reduces the number one more. Still eluding me, all these years, is the Thousand Island Railway. Maybe the Mayor of Gananoque will invite me down some day for a trip on the T.I.R.