Canada Southern Railway

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The Canada Southern Railway (reporting mark CASO), also known as CSR, was a railway in southwestern Ontario, Canada, founded on February 28, 1868 as the Erie and Niagara Extension Railway. It adopted the Canada Southern Railway name on December 24, 1869. The railway was leased to the Michigan Central Railroad (MCR) for 99 years; in 1929 it was subleased to the New York Central Railroad (NYC) for 999 years. Its successors Penn Central (formed 1968) and Conrail (formed 1976) later exercised control.

Corporate History[edit]

The corporate history of the Canada Southern Railway Company is complex. In 1874, CSR declared bankruptcy and within two years was taken over by the railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who owned the New York Central (NYC) as well as other railroads. When Cornelius died in 1877, his son, William, became head of the Vanderbilt railroad empire. The younger Vanderbilt took steps to separate the various railroad properties he controlled. On 1 January, 1883, NYC was able to lease the CSR to the another Vanderbilt railroad company, the Michigan Central Railroad (MCR), on a 21 year renewable term. William Vanderbilt, who owned all three companies, ensured that each one operated independently, through its own autonomous president and board of directors.[1] In 1929, MCR subleased CSR to NYC, its parent company.

Corporate Headquarters[edit]

CSR's headquarters were located in St Thomas, Ontario. The site was chosen for more than one reason. St Thomas was roughly equal-distance between Windsor and Fort Erie, Ontario. Also, the city offered a $25,000 bonus to the railroad company as an incentive to build within city limits.[2] CSR's main building, the Canada Southern Railway Station, included a passenger station and dining room on the ground floor with the railway's head offices on the upper floor. The extremely long, narrow building was based on the Italianate-style of architecture and is the only known train station in Canada to embody this style.[3] The station was the design of Canadian architect Edgar Berryman (1839-1905.).[4]

A large car shop, located in the yard, facilitated the manufacture of cars and allowed repairs to be made to locomotives. Locomotives were also manufactured in the car shop, beginning in 1882.[5][6]

Later Years[edit]

On April 30, 1985, the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway jointly purchased the former CASO from Conrail in order to acquire the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel under the Detroit River and the Michigan Central Railway Bridge at Niagara Falls.[7]

Much of the CASO has been downgraded, abandoned or removed by CN and CP over the years. Operations through Niagara Falls (and over the MCRR bridge) were discontinued with that portion of the line through the city removed in 2001. Unlike the rest of the line however, the Detroit River tunnel is a key part of freight movements across the Canada-US border and still sees a good number of mainline trains.

The CASO rarely operated its own rolling stock after acquisition, and its reporting mark was abolished in 1977.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Central's Canadian Streamliners by Douglas N.W. Smith, p. 26. ISBN 0-9730521-0-4
  2. ^ St Thomas Canada Southern Railway Station by Katie Cholette (a booklet published by the North American Railway Hall of Fame), 2011
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Ontario Heritage Trust | Online article: St. Thomas Canada Southern Railway Station
  5. ^ Canada Southern Country by Robert D. Tennant, Jr. ISBN 1-55046-007-2
  6. ^ Canada Southern Railway Station by Laurence Grant ISBN 978-0-9878271-0-4
  7. ^ "Significant dates in Canadian railway history". Colin Churcher's Railway Pages. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2006-04-26.