Why is the TH&B so popular?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by RobertInOntario, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    My Dad (who passed away 9 years ago) was a huge railway fan and he often talked about the TH&B and was very fond of it. I've also heard several MRR folks talking about and modeling the TH&B (Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo railway).

    I'm just curious as to why this is such a popular railway? I'm not knocking the TH&B at all -- I enjoy seeing pics of TH&B locos in books and seeing TH&B models, plus I really like their colour scheme! But I'm just wondering if there's a special reason why it's so well-liked & almost legendary?

    Was it mainly a freight line or did it ever run passenger service? Also, did CP or CN buy the line in the 1980s? (I keep forgetting.)

    [In Britain, the Great Western Railway is one of the most fondly remembered & frequently modeled -- but that might have been because it was one of the main lines that took people on holidays to the seaside (beaches) during the summer. Hence, folks have lots of holiday-related memories associated with it. Just curious as to what the reason might be with the TH&B.]

  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    I think the TH&B was popular in Ontario for a couple of reasons: First, it was the one of only a very few regional/shortline in the province - everywhere else was CP or CNR. Second, it was the only regional in the Golden Horseshoe - where most of the population in Ontario lives. Third, they had snappy paint schemes, and were friendly (AFAIK) to railfans.

    They did run passenger service, although I'm not sure of the final date. But they ran service from Toronto through Hamilton to Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Way back when they also ran passenger service to Brantford, and even further back, to Waterford as well.

    They weren't bought by CP, the TH&B was jointly owned by the NYC and CP. Off the top of my head, I believe CP bought controlling interest after the Conrail merger of the '70s, and brought the TH&B completely into the fold.

    Dr. Wayne is the resident TH&B expert, so no doubt he'll have more (and more accurate) info to add... I just wanted to scoop him on this one! ;) :D
  3. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks! I was wondering if the fact that the fact that it served a highly-populated area was part of the reason. There is a good TH&B historical society that I've run into at some train shows, so perhaps I'll try to google that as well. I run a few of my Dad's old/basic TH&B box cars on my layout, so that's what kept reminding me of this question.

    Glad to hear that they were friendly to rail-fans. Are any current rail lines known to also know be rail-fan friendly? There are still several regional short-lines operating today, i.e. OSR (I really like their paint schemes), GEXR (which I don't think has a paint scheme!), etc.

    Thanks again,
  4. DaVinci1953

    DaVinci1953 New Member

    more goodies about TH&B

    It was implied in the previous posts, but not actually stated: another reason the TH&B is a cool modelling subject is - you can run CP, TH&B and New York Central locomotives on your layout. TH&B bought a lot of old locos from the NYC, including some of their gorgeous Hudsons, originally used on the 20th Century Limited. So, those of us modelling Southern Ontario can use those great Broadway Limited Hudson locos and be quite correct. They also ran the only Berkshires used in Canada (Also ex NYC)
    Plus you can have CN tracks passing through as well.

    Also, there is their head office (Now a GO train station in downtown Hamilton) that is a beautifully restored heritage site. It is a fine example of Streamline Moderne architechture (a variant of art deco)

  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Hi Lance, and :welcome1: to the Gauge.

    The TH&B's 2 Hudsons were from part-parent NYC, but the two Berks, the only ones owned by a Canadian road, were built new for the TH&B, in 1928, by Montreal locomotive Works.

    While I'm hardly an expert on the TH&B, as Squidbait suggests, I am a big fan, having spent my early years watching the trains go by our front porch on Hunter Street, in Hamilton.
    If I recall correctly, passenger service ended in 1980 or '81 - at that time it was down to a pair of RDCs to Buffalo, but at one time, there were connecting Pullmans to New York City, via the NYC.

  6. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I always thought people liked it because it interchanged with the PC! :)
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I guess it must be strictly a local thing. Before joining this site, I didn't know of any TH&B fans/modellers! The Ontario-specific line I really knew of (and the one I'm still interested in) was Ontario Northland.
  8. cn nutbar

    cn nutbar Member

    Hello Everyone---My interest in the TH&B (Tramps,Hoboes & Bums) also developed through boyhood memories while living in Hamilton Ontario.Even though my father was a locomotive engineer on the CNR,my love of trains also included that other railroad which was a common sight,primarily servicing the many industries that were once a major part of the city's make-up.For me,the TH&B was like a little brother to the CNR---the CN had all the glamour with passenger and freight trains hauled by big powerful steam locomotives and modern diesels while the TH&B toiled along with it's 0-6-0 steam engines and SW diesels.It's true the TH&B also had it's share of passenger and freight service and had some beautiful motive power of their own, but my recollections focus on the less glamourous hard working engines which seemed to match the working class character of the city of Hamilton
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Lance (and welcome aboard too!). These are good points. So basically, by modelling the TH&B, you can legitimately run a good mixture of locos and stock on your layout.

    I model British trains as well, and there was a line in SW England (called the Somerset & Dorset line) that was owned or managed by different regions/companies of Britain. As a result, modellers of the S&D can correctly run quite a mixture of locos & coaches from different British regions or railway companies. (I'm trying to make my layout generally an S&D layout.)

    It sounds as if the TH&B was a similar situation. The S&D is hugely popular in Britain and it appears that the TH&B may be popular here for the same reason.

  10. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, this is interesting background info. There is a good TH&B historical society (http://www.thbrailway.ca/) and I've occasionally seen their displays at train shows. I think I'll try to get in touch with them -- they were quite friendly and helpful when I stopped by their booth (at a train show) a couple years ago. Rob
  11. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    2 years ago when I decided to model Canadian railways ( modeling N scale European proto is very expensive ) I selected the TH&B because:
    1) For an European, the name sounds good for a railroad , better than Canadian this or Canadian that.
    2) In the late 70's I was living next to a CPR yard in Montréal and I remember seeing various cars ( mostly gondolas ) with the TH&B logo.
    3) There is some ( not much ) N scale TH&B good quality engines ( Atlas GP-7, Life-Like SW9-1200 ) and a few boxcars + caboose.
    4) The paint scheme looks great.
    5) DoctorWayne models it :)

    I'm modeling CN too because their track from Taschereau yard is 100 meters down the road.

  12. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks! I'm getting more curious about this railway and how it allows the modeler to run NYC (and other types?) of locos on a layout. Rob
  13. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    For anyone interested in the TH&B, I can recommend In The Shadow Of Giants by Norman Helm. A good history of the TH&B, how it came to be, and how it ran, right up until the end.
  14. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    TH&B was jointly owned by CP and NYC, so their equipment appeared frequently. Eventually, though, TH&B was entirely absorbed by CP.
  15. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Squidbait, where can I purchase that book ?

  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Jaques: There is a shop in Hamilton called Modeller's Choice which does a good business in TH&B models. My second choice would be Credit Valley Railway in Misissauga.
  17. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    David, that's exactly where I purchased my TH&B engines and rolling stock.
    I agree, both Modeller's choice and Credit Valley Railway offer very good customer service.

    Pacific Western Rail Systems sells TH&B engines and rolling stock too.

  18. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Jacques, I think that the book is currently out of print, although you may find a copy at a train show. I have one from the first printing, but, in my opinion, the second printing is the better version. Be prepared to spend in excess of $100.00, though, as they don't come up too often. You could always try your local library if you'd like a look at it: if they don't have it, they should be able to obtain a copy through the interlibrary loan programme.
    The first edition, printed in 1978, is ISBN 0-919822-22-3, and was published by The Boston Mills Press.
    The second edition, printed in 1996, is ISBN 1-896815-00-6, and was published by Preston House Publishers.

  19. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Thank you for the information Wayne, even if it's not the kind of reply I was expecting.
    I was expecting more something like;" The book is easily available online at Amazon.ca. They have more than 100 in stock and the price is around $ ( Canadian ) 25.00".
    There is an opendoor at the Montréal Railroad Modelers Association next month. At least I know what I'll be looking for.

  20. train1

    train1 Member

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