The "Lost Electric Railways of Ontario" article series will be a photographic exploration of the forgotten streetcar and interurban lines that once operated in this province. This article focuses on Queenston, which became a town in the early 1800s and is now a part of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. More photos will be added as I find them, or when I revisit this spot to take more modern matching shots.
BEFORE THE ELECTRIC RAILWAY
Long before the arrival of electrical railways, the first railway in Upper Canada was the Erie & Ontario Railway, locally known as the Chippawa-Queenston Railway. The railway began service between Chippawa and Niagara Falls in 1839, with the line reaching Queenston in 1841. Horses were used to pull wood cars each with a 20 passenger capacity.
In 1852 the railway changed to steam power, and relocated its tracks closer to the Niagara River.
Here is one of the Chippawa-Queenston Railway bridge abutments in 1945, which was eventually removed. Photo from the Niagara Falls Public Library. Today all the remains of Upper Canada's first railway is a stone cairn at the corner of Stanley and Morrison in Niagara Falls.
Queenston and Lower Niagara viewed from Queenston Heights, Canada. Postcard from NFPL Archives.
THE NIAGARA FALLS PARK & RIVER RAILWAY
opened for passenger service on May 24th, 1893 from Chippewa through Niagara Falls to Queenston.
Google Earth screenshot of Queenston with the trolley line overlaid in yellow. This map plug-in may have some inaccurates, but I have yet to find a better track map for the Queenston section of this railway.
The station and souvenir shop in Queenston, which was located on River Frontage Road at what is now the Whirpool Jet Boat Tours depot. Both photos are from the NF Public Library.
The NFP&R was acquired by the Buffalo Railway Company in 1899 which was purchased by the International Railway Company in 1902. This merged many railways including the NFP&R with the Great Gorge Route and created the "Niagara Gorge Belt Line."
The old Queenston-Lewiston suspension bridge circa 1900. NFPL photo.
NFP&R open cars at Queenston dock, about 1900. Most of the cars in the yard are trailers, with only 2 motor-cars visible in this photo. Photo taken by C. Marsh and is now in the Niagara Falls Public Library's archives.
Park & River Railway tracks in 1920. Both NFPL photos.
Car #584 descends the Queenston grade, circa 1919. Niagara Falls Public Library photo. The Niagara Falls Belt Line ended service on the Canadian side (Park & River Division) on September 11th, 1932, and the remaining American side (Great Gorge Division) ended service in 1935.
Lewiston-Queenston suspension bridge in the1940s, after the tracks had been removed or covered over. NFPL Archives.
Canadian side of the suspension bridge, circa 1960. York St. facing south.
Only one small patch of NF Park & River Railway tracks remain visible to this day. These photos were taken by Trevor the Time-Traveler on April 11th, 2022.
York St. was eventually closed off to traffic after the bridge was removed in the 1960s.
Modern matching photo by John Dahl.
Also worth mentioning is the Queenston Power Canal construction railway, which was operated by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission. Work began on the canal in 1918 and an electric railway was built along side to aide in the construction.
This short lived railway would feature 24 electric and 7 steam locomotives hauling trains of dump cars to move material away from the work site.
The Queenston plant was officially opened on December 28th, 1921, and the electric construction railway was dismantled. Thanks to John Mills' Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway book for the info.