Hail! Hail! The gang's all here! This scene is the summer 1903 construction of the Preston & Berlin Street Railway Company's Waterloo spur at Cedar Grove, looking north. Hidden in the grove is a P&B car on King Street going to/from downtown Berlin (Kitchener). Dinky engine is believed to be P&B 4 acquired 1902, full identity unknown.
Construction locomotives belonged to contractors doing construction work, sometimes for a railway but often for roads. Beginning in the 19th century Canada's railways were built by contractors that bid for the work to be done. They employed large numbers of men for the construction period using mostly manual labour. The only large equipment used was steam shovels and the construction trains themselves, often made up of used steam locomotives and rolling stock that moved from contract to contract. In the decades before large and sturdy trucks and earth movers existed, the only way for large amounts of earth, rock etc. to be moved for removal or fill, was by using "trains". Many such projects utilized narrow gauge equipment on temporary track.
Scenes of contractors' construction trains building the major transcontinental railways are common, less common are scenes of non-railway projects being built using contractors' equipment.
Toronto-Hamilton Highway Commission
One of Ontario's first major highways was built between Toronto and Hamilton using 24" gauge construction trains.
These unique little side-tank locomotives were built in
the US by H. K. Porter, #5655, 5656 and 5657, May 1915. They were sold
by their Canadian subsidiary, Canadian H. K. Porter to the Toronto-Hamilton
Highway Commission. When it opened on November 17, 1917, the Toronto-Hamilton
Highway was at 40 miles the longest concrete highway in Ontario.
City of Toronto
5, H. K. Porter #4900 8/1911. Gerrard Street, Toronto, August 28, 1911. City of Toronto Archives
In August 1911, the City of Toronto took delivery of a large amount construction equipment including two steam shovels along with considerable 36" gauge railway equipment. Six identical 0-4-0T saddle tank steam locomotives, 40 small 4 wheel, wooden dump cars, 700 tons of 30 lb. rail and 24 sets of switches. Totalling less than $50,000 with each of the engines costing $3,397.50.
This equipment was required to permit the construction of a number of street railway lines the city was undertaking to expand service in the far reaches of Toronto that the exisiting privately-owned Toronto Street Railway company refused to build. These lines were built under the name, Toronto Civic Railways. In the east, Gerrard and Danforth lines, in the north, St. Clair Avenue line and in the west, Bloor street past High Park. This latter line was a real construction effort, taking nearly three years to complete the fill, finally opening a double track line to Runnymede Road in October 1920. Four of the dinky engines had first been transferred to this line in April 1914.
Locomotives built by H. K. Porter, #4799, 4800, 4898, 4899, 4900, and 4901. This would indicate the first two had been built for stock, while the last four were built upon being ordered from the builder. Their disposition is unknown.
Railway Construction Contractors
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