Railfanning North Tonawanda in the early ’70s

Here’s a compilation of Doug Kroll photos from the early ’70s taken in North Tonawanda. Doug lived in North Tonawanda when he was a kid, and he was kind enough to tour me all over town last year so that I could understand the lay of the land. These are a sampling of photos that Doug posted to RailPictures.net which are relevant to my project. What’s missing from this collection is the Lehigh Valley and C&O trains that passed through North Tonawanda.

New York Central and TH&B started an operation that lasted through Penn Central and into the Conrail era. FT-1 was a daily train from Frontier Yard in Buffalo. It made lifts and setouts at Suspension Bridge, Montrose, Welland, and Hamilton, on its way to Toronto. The daily counterpart was TF-2, travelling in the opposite direction. The trains met in Hamilton so that crews could return to their terminal. The train used Penn Central power in one direction and TH&B power in the other. In the featured image above, TF-2 passes through North Tonawanda bound for Frontier Yard on August 15, 1973. It’s my goal to replicate scenes like this on my layout.


Taken from the same location as the first photo, this shot by Doug Kroll taken on August 8, 1973 shows the Falls Turn on its return trip to Frontier Yard from Niagara Falls NY.  The North Tonawanda yard switcher can be seen in the distance on the right.


In this photo taken on July 21, 1974, a Canada Southern (CASO) train from St. Thomas Ontario passes through North Tonawanda on its way to Frontier Yard in Buffalo. Notice the non-standard paint scheme on 7437, which included all yellow handrails, the name Penn Central under the heralds on the nose and the sides of the cab, and the NYC numerals.. Like the TH&B locomotives, the CASO power was built by GMD in London Ontario. This is another example of the diverse traffic through North Tonawanda.




Two crews were based out of the yard on weekdays. This Doug Kroll photo from July 29, 1973 shows the typical arrangement tied down for the weekend at North Tonawanda Yard. Each crew would work with an Alco S2 and an old N5B cabin.


There were a number of RS-1s around Buffalo, and here’s evidence that one was cycled into the North Tonawanda Yard. This is another Doug Kroll photo.


A quartet of F7s is about to take their train across the Goundry Street overpass in North Tonawanda as they pull their train toward Frontier Yard. Doug Kroll too this photo on August 29, 1972. You can see that an S2 is tucked in behind the trailing F7. This is probably one of the North Tonawanda yard switchers going back to Frontier Yard for servicing.




Moving over to the parallel Erie-Lackawanna, this Doug Kroll photos shows the Day Falls Turn on its way to Niagara Falls from Bison Yard on August 14, 1974.
The typical power for the Day Falls Turn on the Erie-Lackawanna was an A-B-A set of F7s. Doug Kroll took this photo on November 5, 1972 as the train had just finished its set-out in North Tonawanda Yard.


      1. Hunter,

        Very true, the back ground info and photos are a tremendous addition to your layouts data base. It’s nice having folks that saved this history.

        Best, Scott


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