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Old Time Trains


Ontario Southland Railway

St.Thomas Line

by R.L.Kennedy

All photographs: Walter Pfefferle unless otherwise credited.

(Last updated September 4, 2019)

CPR St.Thomas Subdivision
Woodstock to St.Thomas 33.6 miles
Leased to OSR.

A major expansion came about effective December 15, 2009 after the CPR decided to shortline their St.Thomas Subdivision 33.6 miles between Woodstock and St. Thomas where connection is made with CN. Prior to this Ingersoll was the start of OSR's operations. This new operation brought OSR into Woodstock and included trackage rights in the yard and on the Galt Sub. to Coakley to facilitate exchange of traffic. The CPR thus ended all branchline operations out of Woodstock.

Included with this was access to the CAMI Automotive plant in Ingersoll. Originally owned 49%/51% by Suzuki and General Motors producing Japanese Suzuki Sidekick and Geo Tracker vehicles beginning April 1989. In 1994 adding Pontiac Firefly. In 2004 Chevrolet Equinox. Others were built from time-to-time. By December 2009 Suzuki had withdrawn and it became 100 % subsidiary of General Motors of Canada Ltd. (GM CAMI Assembly) producing GM vehicles on the 570 acre property employing nearly 3000 by 2015. The popularaty of these GM vehicles has grown to 1. 5 million vehicles a year requiring 90 multi level auto carriers daily. It expaned operations to 3 shifts 7 days a week. In addition to assembling new vehicles this is also a mixing centre where vehicles built in USA plants are brought in by rail unloaded, sorted and reloaded for their final destinations. Loads in, loads out! Note: In 2015 GM announced a $560 Million expansion to build the new Chevy Equinox.

CN had access to the CAMI plant over CPR track with CN switching certain hours and CPR at other times. This arrangement ended with CN no longer having trackage rights to the plant. OSR assumed these additional switching requirements effective July 1, 2012 handling CN traffic to/from CN Ingersoll. This required 2 OSR jobs every day utilizing two sets of two units each. This way if one train got delayed running to and from sidings on the CPR Galt Sub. or for any other reason the second crew could start work on time thus providing dependable service to this very important customer.

Woodstock Area Gallery
Updated April 7, 2019

Features trains to and from CPR interchanging traffic including CAMI at Coakley.

Mile 0.5

Bridge repairs undertaken by OSR.

Near Mile 1.5

6508_1401 northbound approaching Woodstock.

Mile 4.0

6508_182 passing the Beachville Welcome sign.

6508_182 heading to Woodstock with 26 cars. Beachville 12/24/2016

6508_1620 with CAMI multis through Beachville.

6508_1620 in a rural scene about to cross an unprotected crossing Beachville.

Forest-like scene with 182-1620 hauling CAMI multilevels. See next view closer up.

182_1620 passing the post office in "downtown" Beachville!

Both ex SOO GP7's 378 and 383 with CAMI multis. Note 378 has newer paint scheme with staggered lettering.
The only railway where you can see two GP7's in regular freight service!

Ballast regulator doing track work on St. Thomas line Beachville. Two views.

Excellent track work has long been the pride of OSR, not typical of many shortlines!

Beachville siding used for setting off and lifting cars. Here we see 503_182 passing by with CAMI multis. 4/30/2011

CPR track gang at work. Likely the last work done by CPR anywhere on St. Thomas Sub.

Changing out lots of bad ties. Siding Mile 4 is 2453 feet long.

Mile 8.9
Thames Street Mile 8.91

Ingersoll yard consists of a few short tracks immediately south of Thames Street South level crossing. This is Oxford County Road 119 and is a main street through Ingersoll. Located here is a recently built short transload track which is available for use by any customer making a direct transload. No storage facilities etc. It is like an old fashioned team track (more technically a public team track) available for shipping or receiving carload freight by anyone not having their own private siding. It has been used by OSR for their own OCS supplies such as ties etc.

1401_6508 with 16 multis through Ingersoll. 5/21/2019

503_1244 heading from CAMI to CN interchange with 23 multis. 1400_1620 far left. 5/16/2017

502_501 working 1700 job leaving CAMI with 15 multis for CN interchange. 6/18/2016

1620_182 lifting cars in Ingersoll. 2/27/2016 James Gardiner

F9A 6508 and GP7 378 lift one car in Ingersoll yard after leaving the CAMI plant. 11/02/2015 Dave Seitzer
This illustrates the variety of power used by OSR on its trains.

Here is RS-18 182 fresh out of Salford shop from getting complete new ZTR control system.
First MLW unit anywhere to get this! This is equivelent to a dash 3 system. "RS-18-3".

Trailing unit is GP9u 1620 also with ZTR BOA wheelslip system (improves tractive effort by 30%!)
Also equipped are: GP7's 378 and 383 as well as GP9's 175 and 8235.
(1620 8235 equipped when owned by CPR).

503_1249 with a long train of mixed freight through Ingersoll. Track curving to the right is Port Burwell line.

1244_1245 nose-to-nose for better visibility in both directions.
Ingersoll September 7, 2015

1401_6508_1400 all three A units together with multis passing the big church in Ingersoll.
January 28, 2015 Drew De Bruyn

Note: St.James' Anglican Church built 1869 (Parish Hall 1930). Traces its history locally from 1834.

Tank car spotted with three OCS ballast hoppers behind and stacks of ties on ground.
Track ends just behind photographer. If you look in that direction you will see next
to the level crossing the very noticeable large St.Paul's Presbyterian church.

A little farther down is the junction with the Port Burwell Subdivision where the following took place.

A track relocation project in Ingersoll was a major project for a shortline. It came about when a small watercourse next to the right-of-way threatened to undermine the track. OSR planned to shore it up with cement blocks. However, the local conservation authority insisted on an elaborate and expensive method involving heavy rip rap for this tiny water stream. OSR decided to eliminate the problem with a simple solution shown in the photographs below.

Port Burwell Sub. at left and St.Thomas Sub. at right with new switch and track between. 10_20_2013

Switch cut in with track leading to Charles Street West level crossing. 10_27_2013

Completed new alignment with old track still in place at far left. 11_07_2013
Stream is hidden behind bushes at extreme left. Note red flag.

Above three photos looking south. Opposite direction views below.

Shortened before level crossing. This created more yard storage capacity. October 3, 2015.
See below for before photograph.

This view of RS-18 182 southbound on the St. Thomas Sub. shows the pre-relocation track. Port Burwell Sub. at right.
White blocks indicate location of small stream. The level crossing will be reduced to a single track only.
A switch is to be added immediately short of the crossing connecting to the St.Thomas Sub.
which is the track the above train is on. May_03_2013 Jon Hall.

Pretty full yard on this quiet Sunday. St.Thomas Sub. mainline at far right.

Ontario Refrigerated Services
Mile 9.9

Aerial view of warehouse including lead off St.Thomas Sub.

A locally owned warehouse decided to take over an adjoining warehouse and convert half of it to a cold storage warehouse. This required constructing a connection off the mainline and private sidings to the modified warehouse. Initial effort to reuse an old abandoned private right-of-way to another small industry was deemed not suitable due to curvature required and the length of newer refrigerator cars (the newest are even longer!) It did require a fairly steep curved track leading into the new warehouse operation. Various refrigerated food products are placed here for reloading into tractor trailers for delivery.

OSRX 201 and two other ex CP hopper cars used in ballasting along with CRYX 3193 reefer load being spotted.

This view shows grade and curvature especially for second siding.
Looks like third car is a newer larger reefer. ARMN 765291 leading.


Gallery of sidings construction. 2011

CAMI Wye and spur to auto ramps.
Mile 10.40

Aerial CAMI plant including wye off St.Thomas Sub., lead, storage tracks for multilevel auto carriers,
automobile compound and multi loading ramps.

Brand "new" siding Mile 10.8 built next to main line between wye switches. Used to store empty multilevel auto carriers
and seasonally, loaded tank cars. Available used material did not allow entire siding to be built at this time however
it was later extended in 2016 using rail lifted in Tillsonburg, to the full 3300 feet crossing-to-crossing except for
the second switch to be installed in 2017. See below for finished view.


Other end of the extended siding.

Caboose 67 on CAMI 1700 job shoving multis through Ingersoll to CNR interchange.
May 26, 2015 Drew de Bruyn

Caboose 67 (fully operational) used for backup transfer moves with CAMI traffic.

378 and 6508 carefully snake their way along the CAMI lead. February 25, 2014

Mile 13.8

This small point has long been home to a good sized agricultural industry handling unit trains of potash in season and other farm supplies. Both Nu-gro Corp.and Sylvite Agri-Services were situated here side-by-side. Farm land surrounds this rural facility and this attracted a new facility to serve industry supplying propane and other products in tank cars.

Track gang building new 8 car siding at Sylvite Agri-Services for transloading to trucks for delivery to area farms etc.
This is a joint project between Sylvite and Growmark in Delhi (CN Cayuga) which lost its rail service.

Note: Sylvite had previously taken over adjoining Nu-Gro facility.

1400_1620 switching a cut of covered hoppers at the Sylvite elevators in Putnam.
This is the Woodstock-CAMI job which will now head to CAMI and then Woodstock.
There were two trains on the St. Thomas Subdivision this day. Busy little shortline!

1594_6508 both in newer style lettering. Outstanding! Two trains on the Subdivision this day.
This is the St. Thomas job whcih will switch propane facility in Putnam on its way to St. Thomas.

182_1620 with two high cube box cars separating two cuts of five tank cars each.
Note the two horses ingnoring the train!

1401_1400 with mixed of freight heading through Putnam on the St.Thomas Sub.
This was the first run of 1400 . December 19, 2014

CEFX 6537 GP38-3 and OSR 378 switching Sylvite.
Note: 6537 is being test operated for ZTR.

383_378 stopping in Putnam to set off seven loads of fertilizer in Sylvite plant.
December 8, 2014 Tim Ball

Sylvite car mover handling a single car.

Putnam Terminal Co. Ltd.

N.G.L. Supply Co. Ltd.

Two views of terminal with Ag plant on opposite of mainline in background.

Two tracks hold 5 tank cars each.

Mile 24.8


Factor Gas Liquids, Inc


Dowler-Karn a family-owned local business has expanded in recent years by acquiring similar businesses
in St.Marys, Chatham and Sarnia. D-K also added a tank storage facility within Factor Gas Liquids.

Lifting one empty tank car out of the siding as crew member prepares to close the gates.
The train was powered by 1400 and 1401 on their first run together with 18 cars from Ingersoll to St.Thomas.

Messenger Freight Sytems
150 Dennis Road

Auto parts facility for CAMI plant.
Coffee cup distribution for major chain of quick serve restaurants.

Note: Next to Messenger is Takumi Stamping Canada Inc.
providing parts to Toyota. It does not have a siding.

Two photos: Messenger Freight Systems.

Rail King

Shoving in to lift two auto parts boxes. 7/25/2014

Wabash Transfer and in the distance St. Thomas sign approaching Highway 3.

End of the line! Highway 3 looking south towards CASO.


1620_1400 has just backed over the CN Cayuga diamond after setting off some tankcars.
They are heading back towards their train where they'll couple up and go interchange with CN.
12/22/2017 Alex Sanders


Note: CASO long abandoned and removed. CN Payne Sub abandoned just west of trestle west end of yard.

Description of tracks in aerial view.

Aerial. At left running on an angle the from top of screen to bottom is CPR St.Thomas Sub. ending at Talbot Street a.k.a. Highway 3. This is where the Frame train's power sat. It once ran across this street into the former CASO/MCR yard. Diamond at top of left of screen at Mile 32.3 St.Thomas Sub. (32.4 south connecting track) and Mile 117.8 Cayuga Sub. running to the right is Formet storage tracks and the plant itself below CN Cayuga Sub. Track to the left runs into CN St.Thomas yard via Wabash Transfer Mile 32.0 which OSR uses to interchange with CN since taking over the CPR St.Thomas Sub. CPR did not its own yard in St.Thomas nor did the Wabash which used part of CNR yard.


Formet Industries, a Magna International plant opened in 1998 in St.Thomas, Ontario makes truck frames, at one time including those for GM in Oshawa which were delivered by a dedicated (DTS), scheduled CPR train ("frame train")
operating 6 days a week. Prior to its opening it was estimated that 11,500 loads would be shipped annually to 6 GM plants, 70% via CN. This facility with its 140 car yard is another contract switching operation of CANDO.

Remote control SW1200 (nee Missouri Pacific 1110) in St.Thomas yard,
displayed during Iron Horse Festival, August 1999. Peter's Trains

CCGX_1329 (nee CN 1329 Windsor 8/1991) SW1200RS GMD A1566 11/1958 St.Thomas 5/22/2006

Aerials views July 2, 2005 David Graham

Aerial July 2009

CNR Cayuga Sub.

OSR has running rights over the CN Cayuga spur to reach CN St.Thomas yard for interchange.

Bridge to nowhere! Located just west of the small CN St. Thomas yard it now ends in the distance past a level crossing.
Its sole remaining purpose is to provide headroom for moves when setting off cars in the yard.
CN Cayuga Subdivision and Paynes Subdivision have both been downgraded to spurs.
Paynes Sub. west from St.Thomas to Glencoe East 27.7 miles was abandoned except for 0.8 miles noted above.
It once provided a connection at Mile 2.6 to the Southwold Spur running 4.2 miles north to reach the former
Ford St.Thomas Assembly Plant sitting on 635 acres. It began production December 18, 1967 and became
known for its full-size Crown Victoria, a favourite with many police departments. It closed September 15, 2001.

1400_1401 westbound in St.Thomas . Two views. Below, shoving back into the yard.

Kettle Creek viaduct 822 feet long.

Decades ago "covered wagons" of a different railway crossed this large trestle on their way between Windsor and Fort Erie. Also built by GMD in London in the era when diesels and plenty of other equipment and goods were "Made in Canada" before Free Trade destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadian workers.

Wabash was unique in that although it operated through AND local freight trains (no passenger) in Ontario between Windsor and Fort Erie they actually had no track of their own! Instead they operated under a very old agreement (1898) of trackage rights over CNR dating from predecessor years with Grand Trunk Railway of Canada.

Two sets of A units headed by 676 and 725 Fort Erie Summer 1964 Bill Thomson

Wabash 671 stopped by the train order board at Simcoe. 1964 Bill Thomson

On to CN Cayuga spur Tillsonburg - Delhi

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