Fenwick Central Layout Tour
Origin of the Fenwick Central
The Fenwick Central (FC) is a fictitious railroad located in the Niagara Peninsula. It came into existence when some wealthy investors purchased the Hamilton, Grimsby and Beamsville railroad back in 1907 and wanted to compete against the Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo on a diagonal to Fort Erie. The town of Merrit is located between Grimsby and Beamsville. It is from here that the Fenwick Central built their mainline up the escarpment in the general direction of Fenwick. Upon gaining running rights over the Fonthill and Fort Erie (F&FE), the Fenwick Central had a direct connection to Fort Erie.
The F&FE was a small railroad built for the sole purpose of moving coal found in the Fonthill area to the Buffalo gateway. Not much care was taken to maintain the railroad and as a result constant slow orders were issued. This was continually affecting the FC's operations over the line. As a result the FC purchased the F&FE out right in the late 20's and rehabilitated the portions of the F&FE that suited the needs of the FC. The majority of the work was concentrated in the area around Ridgeville and the line to South Gap. The remainder of the line was torn up once the FC obtained running rights on the CASO from Welland to Fort Erie.
The modelled portion of the Fenwick Central extends from the Town of Merrit, which is where the current mainline begins to just beyond Fenwick Junction where it gains its running rights over the CASO. The main classification yard and engine facilities on the line are located in the Town of Merrit. Over the years, the town has expanded around the rail yard and has become highly populated. From Merrit the line travels eastward below the escapement to Emerson Junction. At Emerson Jct. the line becomes single track and begins its assault up the side of the escarpment. It passes the small station at South Gap on its way to cresting the escarpment at Nelson Heights. [A couple of tunnels have been added on this climb to help hide the track from crossing over itself as it gains elevation].
Nelson Heights is a small community at the top of the escarpment with a small canning factory, a newly built manufacturing company (bringing an increase in revenue to the railroad) and Niagara Aggregates. This is a small mining company on a short branch line, which ships various materials such as stone, sand, limestone and silica. The town itself is located a couple of miles from the tracks. This however has not stopped people from traveling here to grab the train to further destinations. Proceeding east, the line passes through a large cut, curves to the left and then out onto a recently upgraded bridge across a ravine. The new concrete bridge dwarfs an older wooden trestle located to the north of it. This wooden trestle carried the mainline of the F&FE to the coalmine in South Gap, which was the main source of revenue for the F&FE. The line is still used by the Fenwick Central as a branch line to get to the mining operation in South Gap. The main line sweeps into the town of Ridgeville where it crosses the branch line at grade. This crossing is where the F&FE and the FC had a controlled interlocking for movements across the diamonds. The tower stands to the north east of the diamonds. A new connecting track was built just east of the tower to gain access to the north yard and create a direct route to the mine.
Originally the FC never had access to any of the industries in Ridgeville, but with the purchase of the F&FE that has all changed. Due to the way the tracks dissect the area, the Town of Ridgeville was unwilling to give up any additional land rights to build new access to the south side of the town. Therefore the Fenwick Central had no choice but to leave the diamonds in place to continue to access the south side of town from the north yard. Because of this track configuration, the Fenwick Central keeps a local switcher stationed in the North Yard. The switcher handles the switching chores for the grain elevator, flourmill, team track, foundry, chemical manufacturing company and a tools manufacturing industry in the area. The switcher also travels down the branch line to Unity Lumber and the coalmine in South Gap.
From Ridgeville the main continues eastward crossing over an old wooden trestle. The bridge is in remarkable condition, which is why the FC has not replaced it yet but it is next on the list once enough money becomes available. For the time being, slow orders are issued just to be safe. Off to the south remnants of the F&FE can be seen. Its mainline was abandoned, with its steeper grades and sharper curves, in favour of the current FC alignment. The F&FE line had no other towns or industries to switch between Ridgeville and Brookfield where the two railroads met again.
Just outside of Jamestown the FC crosses a newer iron bridge that was built about 10 years ago. In Jamestown, the second largest town that the Fenwick Central passes through, there are several shippers and receivers and it always seems like the town is growing. This can only mean more traffic for the railroad. There are several industries that keep the railroad busy. Ontario Paper with its supporting steam generator plant provides quite a bit of traffic for the railroad. The Railway Express Agency is another busy customer. The other industries in town that see their share of traffic are Superior Fuels, a Textile company and a small manufacturing company.
From Jamestown, the mainline loops back around and drops down grade [hidden behind scenery] coming out to Brookfield Junction. Brookfield junction is a scenic area showing the level crossing of the Fenwick Central’s double track mainline from Niagara Yard (West End Staging) to Merrit West crossing the single track mainline from Jamestown to Fenwick Junction (East End Staging). There is a connection track for continuous running and a tower still controls the junction. The Brookfield area is also where the F&FE had an interchange yard with the Fenwick Central. However, it has been abandoned for quite some time. Developers are continually trying to develop the area. With it no longer being an interchange point, the area still sees it share of traffic.