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Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society

SOLRS (So-lars)

The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society was established April 1986 and as a charitable organization September 15, 1988. It was organized by David Spiegelman a railway enthusiast with an interest in steam locomotive resoration and operation. His attention centered on an old steam locomotive languishing without any effort to restore it. Essex Terminal Railway 9 the last steam locomotive of this small shortline railway operating out of Amherstburg, Ontario. It had been used for several years as a stationary shop boiler until it was finally retired in 1963. ETR recognized the historical value of this small engine and originally intended to include it in the still-born Ontario Transportation Museum. It was rejected by the replacement 1967 Centennial project Ontario Science Centre in Toronto when all steam locomotives that had been acquired by the Ontario Government (and many others held by CPR) were disposed of. It was then loaned to Ontario Rail Association (1971-1985). ORA made no effort to move the engine to Tottenham or do any work on it where it was stored. Spiegelman contacted ETR expressing his interest in their steam engine and was able to negotiate a change of the loan from ORA to SOLRS April 1986.

Serious work was undertaken with the aid of a well-equipped workshop including 170 ton overhead crane.
Three photos: Ontario Hydro Nanticoke Generating Station, Nanticoke, Ontario. 1988.
David Spiegelman

ETR 9 was relocated July 1986 to Nanticoke at the Ontario Hydro generating station where Spiegelman worked and with the aid of a number of fellow employees and others began serious work to overhaul this steam locomotive. A change of management brought about the need to move the engine to another location unfinished. This was accomplished in December 1993 with a move of number 9, ex CN 57636 an old work service baggage car once located in the CNR London Reclamation Yard waiting destruction and acquired 6/1991 for use as a tool car along with CN 565342 box car used for storage.

SOLRS secured a portion of the Elgin County Railway Museum located in the former Michigan Central Railway locomotive erecting shop in St. Thomas where restoration was finally completed October 1997 when ETR 9 was steamed up for the first
time since 1962! Beginning June 14, 1998 operating as St.Thomas Central ran regular passenger train rides in the yard and in the years ahead made numerous trips over the Canada Southern Railway for some time including some very ambitious journeys covering many miles lasting for days! Later, after proving worthiness by completing the rebuild and actually operating the steam locomotive ownership was handed over to SOLRS October 2001.

Eventually, SOLRS was faced with a dilemma when CN-CP abandoned the CASO running through St. Thomas including
the connecting tracks to both CN and CP isolating SOLRS from the outside world. This was an untenable situation for them and the decision was made to relocate 8/2008 to St. Jacobs a tourist village in Mennonite country featuring nearby a
massive farmers and antique market with multiple buildings that attracts huge numbers of tourists. A new name was created;
Waterloo Central Railway. A regular schedule of public excursion rides, many with themes was established and has proven
to be a success with growing ridership and expanded rolling stock to accommodate them.

A previous tourist railway Waterloo - St. Jacobs Railway Co. Ltd. (formed June 24, 1993) operated from July 12, 1997
with a train set consisting of a pair of ex CN GMD A units 6508 and 6520 plus eleven cars acquired 5/1997 from a defunct tourist train TTSL Le Tortillard du Saint - Laurent between Quebec City and La Malbaie. It ceased operating in 2000
and its equipment was sold off to various buyers including coaches 5504, 5622 and business car 15000 to SOLRS 7/2002
for St.Thomas Central use. Note: 6508 became 8/2012 OSR 6508.

The line owned by CN (Waterloo Spur) runs between Kitchener and Elmira serving a few freight customers.
It was sold to the Regional Municipality of Waterloo with CN's freight operations subcontracted out to GEXR.

St. Thomas Central

Waterloo Central




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