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East Niagara Post: The “Strap” – Lockport's Forgotten Rail Road

In the early 1800 s, the fledgling United States had just survived another War with Britain, and had finally asserted itself on the globe as the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Britain had finally lost their colonies here in America, but they continued to be a world power through the use of sheer ingenuity. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing in Europe as the Erie Canal was completed in Lockport, in 1825.

The use of steam locomotives on rails was already being used throughout the United Kingdom as early as 1804, with Richard Trevithick s Puffing Devil providing the power. However, the first railroad in America would not be built until 1826. In Quincy, Massachusetts, rails and a single rail car were built as a means to transport granite for the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument, but this was simply a one-horse operation and the vision of creating a nationwide system was still many years off. In Lockport, there was much animosity brewing between Lyman Spalding and his mill operations, and the people who had property interests in Lockport s Lowertown. Some of those property owners were very active, politically, in NY State, and it was their political maneuvering that convinced the Erie Canal Commissioners to order that the Mill Race be closed, and all waters were to be channeled through the locks. Spalding was using those surplus waters without having the rights to do so, but in his defense, his was the only property able to utilize it at that time. This tactical shut down essentially closed all of the mill activities in the area known as Uppertown, and by so doing, essentially destroyed many of the investments that had already been made there. Hostilities grew amongst the people of Lockport, putting a divide amongst the villagers, all in a struggle to gain possession of the traffic that was so desperately needed for business. To historians, this was referred to as The Water Controversy of 1829.

In 1830, an American by the name of Peter Cooper, introduced Tom Thumb, the first steam locomotive built in the United States. In 1831, a few businessmen from Lockport petitioned the State to develop a rail road from Lockport to Kempville (present day Olcott), but were denied. Just two years later, the talk of railroading in America was still pretty quiet when Lockport s own, Washington Hunt and Asher Torrence, conceived the idea of creating a road of rails connecting Lockport with the Seventh Wonder of the World. Their concept was to find a quicker and better connection between Niagara Falls and the Grand Erie Canal, and by so doing, would bring even more travelers into their section of town.
East Niagara Post: The “Strap” – Lockport's Forgotten Rail Road

In 1835, all preliminary obstacles to the new rail road were overcome, and they hired 300 Canadian, Scotch, and Irish workmen to begin laying the 24 miles of track, each of them working from sunrise to sunset for 6 shillings a day. They built a primitive form of what were called Strap rails, which consisted of oak beams with a strap of iron, about two and a half inches wide and half an inch thick, on top. In 1836, the depot in Lockport was completed, positioned on the canal bank near the end of Chapel Street, and the Lockport & Niagara Falls Rail Road (L&NFRR) was born, the first of its kind to be incorporated in New York State.

The Lockport ticket office was located in the Lockport House Hotel and rail cars would stop directly in front. Opposite the hotel, canal side, were the docks where packet boats continued to line up as they flowed through Lockport. Washington Hunt was a lawyer who owned property directly next door, and immediately became President of the company. He had been appointed the first Judge of Niagara County at the age of 24, and would later become the Seventeenth Governor of NY State. In April of 1837, as the line opened up, the passenger cars were first pulled along the rails by horses, and the cars were simply an adaptation of the already present stagecoach. However, by years end, the Strap Rail Road would incorporate the new steam locomotives, and become one of the first steam-powered systems in the United States. Two engines were received at first, both manufactured by a company called Ketchum, Rogers and Grosvenor, in Patterson, NJ, and they weighed in at 9 tons each. One was proudly named DeWitt Clinton after the late NY State Governor, and the other, Major Jack Downing, named after a very popular fictional character of the time. They would each burn chunk wood being carried by a small trailing car, while pulling up to three passenger cars behind.

East Niagara Post: The “Strap” – Lockport's Forgotten Rail Road

Passengers headed to Niagara Falls would board along Market Street, and then the train would begin a gradual ascent up and across the Cady Street Bridge. From there, the mechanical wonder would hiss and throw sparks as it struggled to climb up the escarpment, across Clinton Street and along Gooding. The rails were so primitive that many travelers felt uneasy, with the cars lurching from side to side and front to back, much like the ride on an older wooden rollercoaster, with the engineer remaining focused on pushing the limits of the puffing boiler.

Those early years of the Strap Rail Road were full of interesting stories, and thanks to the work of Raymond Francis Yates, in 1895, we have a first hand interview with the late Mr. Stephen Sult, a Lockport man who lived on Fayette Street, and who spent his entire adult life working with the railroads of Western New York. When the road opened, the road master position was offered up to this Mr. Sult. Sult was a jack-of-all-trades, and because they didn t feel that the road could operate in the winter, he spent the off-seasons constructing nearly all of the freight cars that were needed for the company, and built the first eight-wheel coach to be used on the rail system. Each of the two engines made two trips a day for $1 per trip – a bargain since the old stagecoach that ran to Niagara Falls charged 6 cents per mile, or a total of $1.44 for the 24 miles.

The primitive rail system was constantly in need of repair, and when problems arose, Mr. Sult explained that it was usually at an inopportune time. As an example, then President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, felt adventurous enough to take the new train, and this is Sult s recollection of the incident

One time though, we dumped out the President of the United States. He had come up on the packet boat on his way to Niagara Falls, taking the train at Lockport. About a mile this side of Suspension Bridge, a spread rail ditched the train, and the car the President sat in tumbled over on its side and the passengers were pitched together in a heap. The train was going so slow that nobody was hurt. The President crawled out without a scratch, and didn t look as if he was mad any. He helped tip the car back, climbed in, and on they went just as if nothing had happened.

There were a total of 4 different engines used by the L&NFRR with the youngest one being manufactured in 1843, in Lockport, at the Torrence Foundry and Machine Shop, located on Market Street between the Thompson Flour Mill and Exchange Street. This newest engine was called the Independence, and it was the first and only steam locomotive engine ever to be manufactured here in Lockport.

In 1847, with 3 engines working at all times, plans were in the works to extend the tracks to Rochester. Even with faith in the future of the line, bankruptcy was lingering close around the corner, and it would soon become necessary to merge with another. On August 26, 1851, the old L&NFRR was taken over by the Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls Rail Road, with changes in the overall route soon forthcoming. Ironically, with all the bad memories of Uppertown versus Lowertown, Hunt s original concept was starting to backfire, and his property was now going to be avoided completely, with the new line running along the escarpment and over a new canal bridge on the site of the present steel trestle. In 1851, Mr. Sult helped to take up the road that he had built just 14 years before.

Many of the Lowertown residents were thrilled at the change, many lighting bonfires in celebration that the hissing dragons would no longer be spooking their horses or creating nightmares for their children. The local press was quick to show the gratification of all those involved, finally free of the noise and sparks of the L&NFRR. However, the focus on new business was now centered on the railroad line on top of the escarpment, and those with easy access to it, and Lockport s industry had to readjust their focus. Relocating the railroad also meant relocating business, and Uppertown became the main commerce center once again.

It would only be about a year, in 1853, before the newly organized Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls line would sell out to the rapidly expanding NY Central and the Hudson River Railroad (NYC&HRR). Fortunately for some of the properties on Market Street, they were still in close proximity to the expanding line, and that is where the Western Block Company would soon make their own international mark.

Until next time,

+Dr. Scott Geise[1], a local businessman, has an active interest in Erie Canal and Niagara County history. His column, “Historically Relevant,” appears on the first and third Saturday of each month. Please feel free to share any historically relevant stories that you may have hidden away somewhere.


  1. ^ +Dr. Scott Geise (plus.google.com)

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The …

Transport for London have published the results of their consultation on proposals to extend the for Gospel Oak to Barking Line[1] (GOBlin) from Barking station[2] to Barking Riverside[3]. To see the full report visit tfl.gov.uk/barking-riverside[4]. The main points are summarised in the next few sections.

Class 710 Trains

After the electrification of the GOBlin, services will be run using Class 710 trains[5], which although the line will be fully-electrified using overhead 25kVAC, will be the dual-voltage variant able to run on 750 VDC. I would assume that this is so that the trains can go past Gospel Oak station[6] to access parts of the North London Line[7] and West London Line[8] that have third-rail electrification and are shared with both London Underground and Southern Electric trains. Bombardier have also told me, that all Aventra trains are wired so that an on-board energy storage capability can be installed.

When I rode the prototype for this IPEMU technology in public service between Manningtree and Harwich, it felt exactly like a standard Class 379 train[9] and one of Bombardier s engineers told me the battery range was upwards of fifty miles with a similar performance to the standard train. In the remainder of this post, I will use Aventra IPEMU (Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit) to indicate an Aventra Class 710 train with an on-board energy storage capability. Because prospective routes for Aventra like the East London Line[10] and Merseyrail[11] run in longish tunnels, I would think it very likely that Aventras will be certified for tunnels like the Thames Tunnel or those under Liverpool.

Transport for London have certainly ordered a train, that doesn t limit development of new routes linked to the GOBlin.

Lines At Barking Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr[12] shows the rail lines around Barking station[13].

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The ...

Lines At Barking

The lines radiating from the station are as follows, taking them in a clockwise direction from the South West. Three platforms will be used at Barking station for GOBlin services, which come into the station from Woodgrange Park in the West and from Barking Riverside in the South East.

  • Platform 1 which is the current terminus of the GOBlin will be retained and would remain available to Overground trains at Barking Station to aid service recovery during periods of disruption.
  • Platform 7 which is currently used by eastbound c2c trains via Rainham, will also be used by GOBlin trains going to Barking Riverside.
  • Platform 8 which is currently used by c2c trains from Rainham to Fenchurch Street, will also be used by GOBlin trains coming from Barking Riverside.

As can be seen on the map, there is a double-track flyover to connect Platforms 7 and 8, which are the two southernmost platforms to the GOBlin to the west. The only platform and its associated connecting lines that doesn t have any electrification is platform 1.

Changing Trains At Barking Station

The GOBlin services and c2c services via Rainham will share the island platform 7 and 8 at Barking, which could mean some easier step-free journeys for some passengers. Plans exist for redevelopment at Barking station[14] and I wonder if architects and planners can come up with a better layout for the station, that will become increasingly important as an interchange. Especially as the station is shared by three ambitious operators; London Overground, London Underground and c2c. All these operators have expansion and/or improvement plans for services through Barking.

Electrification of Platform 1 At Barking Station

No electrification work has happened on this platform until now and the platform could be electrified in the normal manner. However, it may be more affordable to fit all the Class 710 trains with an IPEMU capability and run them in and out of the platform using the on-board energy storage.

The platform could also be electrified using London Underground s system to create another bay platform for the District and Metropolitan Lines, if that was to be needed. This would not stop the platform being used by the dual-voltage Class 710 trains,

Obviously, the route planners and the accountants will decide.

Renwick Road Station

This map shows the layout of the extension.

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The ...

Barking Riverside Extension

Note now the new line curves away south after passing under Renwick Road. This Google Map shows the area.

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The ...

Renwick Road Area

One recommendation of the consultation is to install passive provision for a new station at Renwick Road, which eventually would make the extension a two-station branch. The station is proposed to be a simple island platform design and TfL s maps show it on the Western side of Renwick Road. There would appear to be plenty of space.

Barking To Renwick Road

On creating the required two lines between Barking and Renwick Road, the report doesn t indicate, it s anything other than a simple construction project.

Renwick Road to Barking Riverside

The line is proposed to curve off and over the rail lines and roads on a double-track viaduct, which is shown in blue on TfL s map. The TfL report says this.

After passing under Renwick Road, the alignment would climb on a viaduct curving south towards Barking Riverside, crossing the Freight Terminal, westbound Tilbury lines and Choats Road. The viaduct would then descend to pass under the existing high voltage power line south of Choats Road, before again rising and continuing towards a station at Barking Riverside.

So it looks that the viaduct goes all the way to Barking Riverside station.

Barking Riverside Station

The proposed layout of the station is described in the TfL report.

The station would be designed to fit the look and feel expected of stations on the London Overground network, and would include the provision of step free access from street to platform and platform to train. Other features of the station would include: a ground floor ticket hall, CCTV, help points, customer information systems and secure cycle parking.

The platform level would be on the upper floor as an extension of the viaduct structure. The station ticket hall would provide direct access to Renwick Road and the separation between the railway infrastructure and ground floor ticket hall would allow additional uses to be made of the space, such as: cash machines, cafe and retail opportunities. The station design would include cladding for weather protection, including a canopy to part of the platform to allow sheltered access to trains.

So it would appear the trains are on the upper floor above the station facilities, shops and cafes. I think this is to ensure that once the trains have passed over the Tilbury Line to Rainham and the freight tunnel, they run fairly level into Barking Riverside station. It could also mean that if the line is extended to Abbey Wood station under the Thames, the track layout to achieve this is not too complicated.

This Google Map shows the location of the station in Barking Riverside.

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The ...

Barking Riverside Station And The Thames


  • TfL s map shows the station is alongside Renwick Road, where it joins River Road.
  • It is perhaps a couple of hundred metres from the river.
  • The housing area of Thamesmead is opposite.
  • Trains could take a straight route to a possible Thames tunnel.

I think it all shows that the design of the station has been thought over long and hard.

Electrification Of The Barking Riverside Extension

The total length of the extension from Barking to Barking Riverside is 4 km., with just 1.5 km. of new line. As with Platform 1 at Barking station, the Class 710 trains give the option of not-electrifying all or part of the extension. Consider.

  • The performance of an Aventra IPEMU running on on-board energy storage, that had been charged before Renwick Road is such, that I believe it could easily handle the extension with a full train of passengers.
  • The viaduct can be built with provision for future electrification.
  • As mentioned in the TfL report, the line has to be carefully profiled to avoid existing power lines. An extension without electrification, would give extra clearance.
  • The Barking Riverside station design is simplified, if it is not electrified.
  • The area has overhead wires everywhere and a stylish viaduct without overhead wiring could have a less negative visual impact.
  • Are IPEMU trains running using on-board energy storage quieter than those using overhead wires?

But not electrifying the line from Renwick Road to Barking Riverside would reduce the complication and cost of the extension. Intriguingly, the full TfL report only mentions overhead wires once, talking consistently about four car electric trains and a fully-electrified line. Nothing in the TfL report precludes the use of Aventra IPEMUs to Barking Riverside and whether this route is chosen will depend on design and environmental issues, and the accountants.

Under The Thames To Thamesmead And Abbey Wood

It is planned to incorporate passive provision, so that the line can be continued in a tunnel under the River Thames. Barking Riverside station appears to have been designed with several features to aid this continuation.

  • Trains could pass through the station on their way to or from the tunnel.
  • The route from the station to the tunnel would probably not need any sharp curves.
  • Barking, Barking Riverside and Renwick Road stations would probably be sufficient to handle passengers on the north side of the river.
  • There appears to be nothing of any importance between the Barking Riverside station site and the Thames, so it should be easy to safeguard a route.
  • Barking Riverside station is elevated, so this potential energy could help to propel a train under the river.
  • A crude estimate says that from Barking Riverside station to the other side of the river is about two kilometres.

The engineers involved in the Barking Riverside extension have certainly made provision to extend the railway under the Thames. This Google Map shows Thamesmead[15] and the Thames.

Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside « The ...

Under The River

Note River Road and Barking Riverside on the north bank of the river, Abbey Wood station[16] with Crossrail and the North Kent Line in the South and Crossness[17] to the East. I don t know the Thamesmead area well at all, and from these maps, I can t work out whether a surface railway could be run to Abbey Wood station from the southern tunnel entrance. However, a tunnel all the way with intermediate stops would surely be possible.

  • As London Underground have thought about extending the Jubilee Line to Thamesmead[18], I suspect that the area would be amenable to the right type of tunnel boring machine.
  • The tunnel could be bored under the A2041 if a direct route were to be chosen.
  • A trip from Barking to Abbey Wood and back is probably about twenty kilometres.
  • Aventra IPEMUs could handle the route with ease.
  • If Aventra IPEMUs used on-board energy storage in the tunnels, the tunnels could be built without electrification.

I believe that there is an affordable innovative solution to extending the Barking Riverside extension under the Thames. I do question if an extension to Abbey Wood will be needed, as when Crossrail opens, it will be possible to travel from Barking to Abbey Wood with a single change at Whitechapel from the District/Metropolitan Lines to Crossrail.


As it should be, I think it is a well-thought plan. As to whether the Class 710 trains will use a possible IPEMU capability, nothing is stated, but I believe the proposed design could be very IPEMU-friendly and using IPEMUs would be advantageous on cost, noise and visual grounds.

Their only downside is that they could get derided as battery trains.

I also have the feeling that if the extension does use the IPEMU capability of the trains, the extension will become a model for other extensions and branch lines all over the UK.


March 4, 2016[19] Posted by | Travel | , , , [20][21][22][23][24][25]


  1. ^ Gospel Oak to Barking Line (en.wikipedia.org)
  2. ^ Barking station (en.wikipedia.org)
  3. ^ Barking Riverside (en.wikipedia.org)
  4. ^ tfl.gov.uk/barking-riverside (www.tfl.gov.uk)
  5. ^ Class 710 trains (en.wikipedia.org)
  6. ^ Gospel Oak station (en.wikipedia.org)
  7. ^ North London Line (en.wikipedia.org)
  8. ^ West London Line (en.wikipedia.org)
  9. ^ Class 379 train (en.wikipedia.org)
  10. ^ East London Line (en.wikipedia.org)
  11. ^ Merseyrail (en.wikipedia.org)
  12. ^ carto.metro.free.fr (carto.metro.free.fr)
  13. ^ Barking station (en.wikipedia.org)
  14. ^ redevelopment at Barking station (en.wikipedia.org)
  15. ^ Thamesmead (en.wikipedia.org)
  16. ^ Abbey Wood station (en.wikipedia.org)
  17. ^ Crossness (en.wikipedia.org)
  18. ^ extending the Jubilee Line to Thamesmead (en.wikipedia.org)
  19. ^ March 4, 2016 (anonw.com)
  20. ^ (anonw.com)
  21. ^ Travel (anonw.com)
  22. ^ (anonw.com)
  23. ^ (anonw.com)
  24. ^ (anonw.com)
  25. ^ (anonw.com)

Boroughbridge logistics company helps local primary school …

Yorkshire-based cold storage and transport business Reed Boardall in Boroughbridge has come to the aid of local pupils by making a surprise visit to the school with a refrigerated truck! More than 28 children in the reception class at Boroughbridge Primary School, including three whose parents work at Reed Boardall, were waiting outside the school for the unknown visitor. They were treated to a close-up view of the Volvo FH tractor as well as a presentation by Paul Satariano, health and safety manager for Reed Boardall, and fleet engineer Frank Appleton. They explained how almost all the food the children eat at home has been carried on a lorry and that each Reed Boardall vehicle delivers enough food to fill 400 cars each time it goes to a depot or supermarket.

The visit was part of a topic around the learning challenge How can I get from here to there? with the five year olds looking at different types of transport, linked to their Maths studies.

Paul Satariano of Reed Boardall, said:

As a local business, we were pleased to be able to help the children s learning come to life by giving them a close-up look at one of our trucks and to tell them more about how their food is carefully transported to the supermarkets. The children were really excited to have the chance to sit inside the truck, try out the bunk and beep the horn not to mention the lorry driver goodie bags we gave them, complete with goggles and a hi vis vest! Reed Boardall is one of the largest temperature controlled food distribution businesses in the UK, storing and delivering frozen food from manufacturers across Britain, Europe and further afield to all the UK s best-known supermarkets.

Boroughbridge Logistics Company Helps Local Primary School ...Boroughbridge Primary School pupils Lewis Pitts and Laila Brear with Paul Satariano of Reed Boardall

Operating 24/7, its 180-strong fleet of vehicles moves an average of 12,000 pallets a day and it stores around 100m worth of products on behalf of its customers.

It is based at a single site in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, which is the largest of its kind in Europe and the company employs over 750 staff.

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