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 National Steel Car Streetcars (HSR #500-547)

National Steel Car Streetcars (HSR #500-547)

The last of the HSR streetcars were 48 cars from the National Steel Car (NSC) Company in Hamilton. These cars were delivered in three batches over a span of three years, with 500-523 arriving in 1927, 524-535 arriving in 1928, and 536-547 arriving in 1929.

Drawing and specifications of the NSC streetcar

Drawings and specifications of the NSC streetcar. (From Nov 12 1927 issue of Electric Railway Journal, pg 925)

Ad featuring NSC Streetcar

This ad featuring the NSC Streetcar was created by the National Pneumatic Company, a manufacturer of treadle (foot activated) doors. (From Nov 19 1927 issue of Electric Railway Journal)

On April 8, 1927, newly delivered HSR 500 was put on public display at the Hamilton Terminal Station for three days, where it received favourable reviews from the thousands of Hamiltonians who viewed it. By the end of April enough NSC cars had been delivered that on May 1st they took over the Beltline route as two-man cars.

The introduction of the first large group of single ended cars prompted some changes in the HSR’s system. Westdale and Longwood Loops were constructed to allow for the new cars to turn at the end of the routes, but the city would not permit the construction of new loops at the end of the York or Burlington routes. The York route remained in the service of double-ended cars for several years, while the NSC cars ran along Burlington, but then traveled down Kenilworth to wye at Barton.

These were the only streetcars to be painted in the Canada Coach Lines two-tone Green paint scheme in 1946. A thin orange stripe was placed underneath the windows, however some streetcars had this stripe either removed or it was never added.

The NSC streetcars served until the end of streetcar service in Hamilton in 1951, with HSR 515 and 529 taking part in the official ‘last run’ on April 6, 1951. All the surviving cars were stored while the company attempted to find another streetcar operator to buy them, but all were eventually sold in the summer of 1951 to the International Metal Company of Hamilton, who stripped the streetcars of their trucks and electrical equipment. Eight of the streetcar bodies were sold to private owners for use as buildings, but the final location of six of these is unknown. The remaining 39 were resold to Dofasco, who cut them up for scrap in 1952. Seven of the NSC streetcars bodies have since been demolished. The last surviving Hamilton streetcar of any type is HSR 521, which is currently preserved by the Halton County Radial Railway near Rockwood, ON

Specifications

Length 40 ft, 11 in
Width 8 ft, 3.5 in
Height 10 ft, 9 in
Trucks CC&F
Motors WH 510A
Weight 37 000 lbs
Seating 53

Some of the dates for these photos are unknown, and the locations are often just a guess. If you know either date or location, email me!

(All photos © Tom Luton, except where noted)

Builder's photo of HSR 500, Spring 1927

Builder's photo of HSR 500, either at Sanford yard or at National Steel Car in Spring 1927. This photo was used in the advertisement shown above.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 500 on the Burlington St Right-Of-Way crossing Beach Rd in 1947.

HSR 500 on the Burlington St Right-Of-Way crossing Beach Rd in 1947. (From the Al Paterson collection, used with permission)

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. The movie on the poster came out in 1939, but the streetcar is painted in the Canada Coach two-tone Green scheme that was first used in 1946.

HSR 503 on the Belt Line route, at Kenilworth and Dunsmure.

HSR 503 on the Belt Line route, at Kenilworth and Dunsmure. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 504 on King St W in the middle of Westdale, August 4th 1949

HSR 504 on King St W in the middle of Westdale, August 4th 1949, the last day of service for streetcars on King St West. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 505 crossing the McKittrick bridge, June 11 1949.

HSR 505 crossing the McKittrick bridge, June 11 1949. The noise made by streetcars crossing this cast-iron bridge was extremely loud, and it was said that it could be heard clearly in Westdale, more than a kilometre to the west. The bridge was later demolished, and is now the site of the King St overpass of Hwy 403. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 506 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 506 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 507 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 507 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 508 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 508 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (Photographer unknown)

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, during a summer in the late 1940s.

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, during a summer in the late 1940s. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 511 on King St East between Elgin and Ferguson, date unknown.

HSR 511 on King St East between Elgin and Ferguson, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 512 and several more at the Birch Street Bone Yard at Harvey St in early 1951.

HSR 512 and several more at the Birch Street Bone Yard at Harvey St in early 1951. As the end of streetcar service in Hamilton neared, repairs to streetcars ended, and the remaining cars were run until they broke. When they did, they were placed on the Birch St right-of-way for storage, which streetcar fans dubbed the Birch Street Bone Yard. (Photographer unknown)

HSR 513 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 513 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 514 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 514 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 515 is decorated as part of the streetcar farewell on April 6, 1951.

HSR 515 is decorated as part of the streetcar farewell on April 6, 1951. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, used with permission)

HSR 517 at the Birch Street Boneyard, Summer 1951.

HSR 517 at the Birch Street Boneyard, Summer 1951.

HSR 518 on Kenilworth south of Roxborough, July 6 1950.

HSR 518 on Kenilworth south of Roxborough, July 6 1950. (Photo by Dennis Schmidt, from Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 520 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 520 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 521 at Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 521 at Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 521, the last surviving HSR streetcar, at the Halton County Radial Railway, August 25, 2002.

HSR 521, the last surviving HSR streetcar, at the Halton County Radial Railway, August 25, 2002. The plaque reads "Hamilton Street Railway 521, Built by National Steel Car Company in Hamilton, Ontario in 1927. Retired at end of streetcar service in Hamilton Friday, April 6, 1951. Sold for scrap, 521 became part of a farm shed near Beamsville, Ontario. Arrived at the Museum October 22, 1973. Estimated restoration cost $65 000"

HSR 523 on King St W in the middle of Westdale, July 31 1949

HSR 523 on King St W in the middle of Westdale, July 31 1949, and judging by the sign on the Westdale Theatre, it’s a hot day. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 523 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 523 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. 523 was the only NSC to not last till the end of streetcar service, as it was destroyed in a collision on Burlington St in June of 1950 (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 525 at James St N and Cannon, Dec 12, 1945

HSR 525 at James St N and Cannon, Dec 12, 1945 (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 526 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 526 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 527 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

HSR 527 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

HSR 529 at Birch and Cannon, Summer 1951.

HSR 529 at Birch and Cannon, Summer 1951.

HSR 530 heading southbound on James St N between King William St and Rebecca St, date unknown.

HSR 530 heading southbound on James St N between King William St and Rebecca St, date unknown. After retirement, the body of HSR 530 would be sold to a private owner and moved to Port Colborne, where it was later scrapped. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 533 at King St East and Ferguson, date unknown.

HSR 533 at King St East and Ferguson, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 535 in the Birch Street Bone Yard south of Barton, in late spring 1951.

HSR 535 in the Birch Street Bone Yard south of Barton, in late spring 1951. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, July 6 1950.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, July 6 1950. (Photo by Dennis Schmidt from Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 537 in the Birch Street Bone Yard at Harvey St, in early spring 1951.

HSR 537 in the Birch Street Bone Yard at Harvey St, in early spring 1951. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 537 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 537 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 539 at Burlington and Wilcox, date unknown.

HSR 539, at Burlington and Wilcox, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 540 at Sanford yard.

HSR 540 at Sanford yard. This is the last paint scheme the streetcars would wear, the Canada Coach two-tone green.(From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 540, date and location unknown.

HSR 540, date and location unknown.

HSR 543 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 543 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 544 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 544 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 546 at King and Walnut, spring 1951.

HSR 546 at King and Walnut, spring 1951. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

An unknown NSC car on King approaching Wentworth

An unknown NSC car on King approaching Wentworth. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

Sources

Bulletin 36: HSR 500-547. Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society, April 1953

"Hamilton (Ont.) Units Scheduled for Delivery on May 1" Electric Railway Journal Vol 70, No 20 (November 12, 1927): pg 925

Mills, John M. Cataract Traction; The Railways of Hamilton. Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society/Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, 1971

"National Pneumatic Company Advertisement" Electric Railway Journal Vol 70, No 21 (November 19, 1927): pg 13(advertisements)