Canadian Corner: Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Railway (W.E. & L.S.)

canadian-flag-smallThis month’s Canadian Corner post features the Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Railway (W.E. & L.S.); details come from the book, Kingsville 1790-2000: A Stroll Through Time.

  • Charter obtained in 1901.
  • Construction begun in 1905 – reached Cottam in 1906, Kingsville in 1907 and Leamington in 1908.
  • The rail line carried people and freight.
  • About 25% of the company’s revenue came from freight, including farm produce, tobacco, brick and tile.
  • There was a special siding at the Cottam canning factory to pick up their products
  • There were two streetcar lines running through the town.
  • The main route followed Division Road North to the Four Corner and turned east on Main Street East. The coaches would stop at the passenger station before going on to Leamington.
  • The second line went continued on Division Road past the Four Corner.  The streetcar  turned at Mill Street, followed Mill to Lansdowne, down Lansdowne Avenue to Park Street. The streetcar continued along Park Street to the streetcar barns and power house. Passengers on this route were taken to the Kingsville harbour, to the Mettawas Inn or  they could walk to nearby Lakeside Park.
  • By 1923, the number of passengers was beginning to decrease due to the number of private autos.   The streetcars were also in need of updating.   The company continued to use power generated in Kingsville even though it was cheaper if obtained from Ontario Hydro.
  • By 1927, the company was operating in the red and the Dominion government decided to abandon the company.
  • In September 1929, municipalities along the route began operating the line.  New streetcars were purchased and labelled “The Sunshine County Route.”  They were first used in 1930.
  • Operating losses continued to increase and in September 1932, the service terminated.
  • The same month that the railway terminated, Greyhound bus began service from Windsor to Leamington. They maintained a ticket office on Main Street East until 1961.
  • It took until 1959 for the municipalities to pay off the debentures for the railway line.

Images courtesy of www.internationalmetropolis.com. History chronology courtesy of the Kingsville Archives.


Rock on Trains © 2021, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Huntsville, AL / Louisville, KY / Mascoutah, IL / Foley, AL / Nashville, TN

LN-logoFeatured Louisville & Nashville depots on the blog this month are those in Huntsville, AL, Louisville, KY, Mascoutah, IL, Foley, AL, and Nashville, TN.

HUNTSVILLE, AL – The Huntsville Depot located on the Norfolk Southern Railway line in downtown Huntsville is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama and one of the oldest in the United States. Completed in 1860, the depot served as eastern division headquarters for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.[3] It is listed on both the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and National Register of Historic Places.[1][2]

Huntsville was occupied by Union forces in 1862 during the Civil War as a strategic point on the railroad and the depot was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers. Graffiti left by the soldiers can still be seen on the walls. The Huntsville Depot saw its last regularly scheduled passenger train, Southern Railway’s The Tennessean, on March 30, 1968. Today the Depot serves as a museum, part of the Early Works Museum.

Information courtesy of www.wikipedia.org.

LOUISVILLE, KY – The Union Station of Louisville, Kentucky is a historic railroad station that serves as offices for the Transit Authority of River City, as it has since mid-April 1980 after receiving a year-long restoration costing approximately $2 million. It was one of three union stations in Kentucky, the other two being in Paducah and Owensboro. It superseded previous, smaller, railroad depots located in Louisville, most notably one located at Tenth and Maple in 1868-1869, and another L&N station built in 1858. The station was formally opened on September 7, 1891 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. There was a claim made at the time that it was the largest railroad station in the Southern United States, covering forty acres (16 ha).[2]

Union Station provided the entrance to Louisville for many visitors, with its height being the 1920s, when it served 58 trains a day. As a Union Station, it served not only the L&N railroad, but also the Monon Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Louisville, Henderson, & St. Louis, the latter eventually merging with the L&N. Many of those traveling to the Kentucky Derby would use the Union Station as their first place of celebration, with twenty special trains coming to the facility, and Pullman cars allowing overnight accommodations, a trend that continued until the mid-1960s. Three separate United States presidents arrived in Louisville by Union Station.

Information courtesy of www.wikipedia.org.

MASCOUTAH, IL – In 1870, the St. Louis and Southeastern Railway Company built a depot in Mascoutah, Illinois. On September 8, 1870 it inaugurated the town’s first train service. In 1879, the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad bought this railroad, which itself was taken over by the L&N Railroad in 1880. In June 1975, the town of Mascoutah bought the depot from the L&N for $1.00, and in early July moved it to Scheve Park. The depot soon became the centerpiece for homecomings and other activities.

FOLEY, AL – Located in the old L & N Railroad Depot is Foley’s Museum Archives. The first depot was built in 1905 when Mr. John B. Foley of Chicago used some of his own money to bring the railroad to the southern part of Baldwin County. This first depot burned to the ground, and a second station took its place in 1908. The railroad line was a spur from Bay Minette and ended approximately a mile south of Foley. At that end, there was a wye when the train could turn around.

The depot and the railroad became the center of activity for the growing town of Foley. At this time, the area was primarily agricultural so the railroad was vital to getting the produce to market. During “shipping” season, thousands of boxcars would pull out of Foley loaded with potatoes, corn, gladiolas, and many other types of produce that was grown in the area.

In 1971, the L & N Railroad discontinued their services to Foley. It was the intention of the company to tear down the depot. However, John Snook, owner of Gulf Telephone Company, bought the building for one dollar. He then moved the whole building to Magnolia Springs, a small community five miles West of Foley. For 24 years, Mr. Snook used the building as a warehouse for the phone company before deeding it to the City of Foley. In 1995, the depot was returned to Foley and placed back in its original location.

The City has since turned the depot into a museum. Here, you will find pictures and artifacts that depict the culture of South Baldwin County, especially the City of Foley. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10am – 4pm.

Information courtesy of Foley Railroad Museum.

NASHVILLE, TN – This National Historic Landmark symbolizes the power of railroad companies, specifically the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad, over the transportation and economy of turn-of-the-century Tennessee. Built between 1898 and 1900, and designed by L&N company engineer Richard Montfort, the building is a significant Tennessee example of Richardsonian Romanesque style. The magnificent passenger train shed, which measured 250 by 500 feet with a clear span of 200 feet, was an engineering marvel for its time. In 1900 it was the longest single-span, gable roof structure in the country. After a fire damaged the shed, and no viable preservation alternatives were identified, the shed was razed in late 2000.

For seven decades, Union Station served Nashville passengers as a massive stone gateway to the metropolitan corridor represented by the national rail system. In 1975 the station was condemned and closed; Amtrak continued to use the shed for passenger traffic until 1979. Metropolitan Nashville officials acquired the rapidly deteriorating structure in 1985; by the following year, Union Station had been restored as a hotel and restaurant. It has served that function ever since and once again is a prominent Nashville architectural and historical landmark.

Information courtesy of Carroll Van West, The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

All photos courtesy of www.rr-fallenflags.org/.


Rock on Trains © 2021, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

My Train Recollections: John Uhelski

Mr. John Uhelski, my friend and fellow train buff, shares his train recollections with us this month. Thanks for your memories, John!


johnuhelskiMy train watching addiction began at and early age; I, too, remember the trains at the Detroit Zoo, but also grew up with Grand Trunk Western steam at places like Brush Street Station and Eastern Market in Detroit. I also recall freight and passenger trains at the classic Birmingham Station with the high platforms.

My dad was a salaried Ford Motor Company employee, so he took my brother and me on a GTW steam-powered trip from Detroit to Pontiac in the late 1950s. Years later, I was at one of the meetings of the AATTW when Emery Gulash was showing his GTW steam slides and I saw the photos he’d taken. I mentioned that I was on this trip, and he replied, “This was a private Ford employees special; how did you get to ride on it?” I told him about my dad and it all made sense. Mr. Gulash and I remained friends for many years and stood side by side along the ROW in future train journeys over the years before his passing.

Not to dismiss the diesel engines that replaced the iron horses of my youth, my Dad often took us to the many junctions in the Detroit area. We spent much time at places like Wayne Jct, Romulus, Carleton, Milan and South Lyon, watching the growlers bounce over the diamonds in the 1960s. Great memories of climbing the tower steps to visit the operators, waiting for the bell announcing an upcoming train, throwing switch and semaphore levers to “help” the operator. All that’s left now are silver boxes trackside and memories.

In the late 50s and early 60s, we vacationed “up north” around the Petoskey, Michigan area of the northern lower peninsula. The C&O and EJ&S got the once-over by my family. I have vivid memories of C&O spotless E-Units on passenger trains and GP-30s on freights. Old #6 on the EJ&S was a treat for us steam-starved train nuts then.

My first real freight ride was in 1967 on the C&O from Petoskey to Central Lake, MI. We were at the Petoskey station and the train was about to depart southbound when a request was made to hitch a ride.  The friendly conductor told me, “You cannot ride in the caboose, but if you find an open box car, I will turn my head while you jump on.” To this day, I cannot believe that my parents allowed this trip. It was a perfect Michigan summer day with blue sky and lakeside breezes. The trip was magical for me and I only wish I had taken my Kodak Instamatic along for the ride. The crew dropped me off at the Drawbridge Road crossing, just north of Central Lake, MI, where I had a short walk back to my grandparents’ cabin on Benway Lake.  I was walking on air, a railfan for life!

I have countless more snapshot memories like this and could go on for days. My first ever train photo was of an eastbound NYC freight at the Henry Ruff Road crossing in Inkster, MI, led by a set of ALCO cab units. The B&W image is speed- and nerve-blurred , but I have it to this day. First color photos were of cigar band NYC E-Units on long passenger trains at the classic depot in Ann Arbor, MI. My aunt and uncle lived in this town , walking distance from the depot. Our tradition was as follows: visit with Ethyl and Rolland, eat dinner at the Old German Restaurant, then head to the depot in the late afternoon/evening for the passenger rush. I can remember the massive waiting room there, foot steps echoing on the tile floors. Then the show began, east and west bound varnish, pulled by sets of big E-Units. The spotless stainless steel cars hinted of exotic far away places and had to be documented with my trusty Instamatic camera — then, the wait for processing soon after.  All quaint memories in this digital age of instant gratification.


Rock on Trains © 2021, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.