Detroit’s Michigan Central Station Restoration

Video courtesy of Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV via YouTube.


Rock on Trains © 2018, 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.

 

Canadian Corner/Depot Doings: Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

canadian-flag-smallKINGSVILLE,
ONTARIO DEPOT
On the Pere Marquette / C&O Rwy

The depot at Kingsville, Ontario, Canada was built in 1889 on the Lake Erie, Essex and Detroit River Railway. Originally owned by Hiram Walker, the line and depot later became part of the Pere Marquette Railroad. Still later, it was acquired by the Chesapeake & Ohio which owns the depot today, although it is no longer used for passenger service.

Kingsville is located about thirty miles east of Windsor, Ontario on what used to be a single track between Windsor and St. Thomas. East of St. Thomas, the C&O uses ex-New York Central tracks. Several C&O freight trains still pass over this route on the way to Buffalo, New York. Those trains, coming from Detroit through the Michigan Central railroad tunnel, take the Penn Central out to a Pelton Interlocking where they switch to the C&O mainline. Passenger train service on the Pere Marquette line ended in the mid-1920’s; however, many of the depots on the line were eventually refurbished for freight-only service. The first floor originally consisted of a Ticket Office, located where the semicircular bay window is at trackside, a Gent’s Waiting Room, a Ladies’ Waiting Room and a combination Freight and Baggage Room where stairs to the second floor are located.

The second floor consists of a small hallway from the stairs leading to a single large chamber that has a series of small windows facing trackside. To the left of the bay window is an opened and curved covered porch that adjoins a porte-cochere to the rear of the building. It was probably once used as a carriage entry and exit point. When the depot was first built there was a raised platform in the Freight and Baggage Room which occupied about half the room next to the large freight door. Another platform of equal height joined this same wall on the exterior of the building. Both were used for the handling of freight and baggage. The exterior platform no longer exists but it is shown in the drawings.

The chimney, like the exterior walls, is of stone and the roof peak joints are covered with a galvanized iron projection. All windows on the first floor are set in deep casements and entry doors are crowned with an arched design.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad still staffs the Kingsville depot with a part-time agent. The former waiting room is now used as a storeroom and kitchenette for the maintenance-of-way crews.

Article courtesy of the Mainline Modeler April 1990
Text Credit: Julian Cavalier
Drawings made expressly for Mainline Modeler. Copies of these drawings may be made for noncommercial use only.


The depot slowly fell into disrepair in the 80’s with its abandonment. The timeless images below were taken from 1972 to 2003 and reflect on the station’s many years of neglect. Through tireless efforts and what seemed like constant delays, the citizens of Kingsville prevailed in keeping this exquisite piece of railroad architecture preserved for future generations. After full restoration, the depot now houses a beautiful Mediterranean-style restaurant, Mettawas Station.


Rock on Trains © 2016, 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.

Canadian Corner: Great Lakes Car Ferries Chronology

canadian-flag-smallDETROIT – US 201607
296’x 64’1x 18.1′ – Built: Great Lakes Engineering Works 1904, Hull #2 – 2,220 GRT – Engines: Four fore and aft compound 24”x 48”x 33 – 3600 HP – Each engine drove propellers – 2 forward and 2 aft.
Boilers – Two double ended and two single ended scotch boilers built by Lake Erie Boiler Works. As Built (for NYC) three tracks, 24 cars. Rebuilt for Wabash – Four tracks, 32 cars. Disposition – Scrapped LaSalle, Ontario in the last five years after sitting at Nicholsons in Detroit in ½ sunk condition for about 10 years.

LANSDOWNE – C88629
294’x 41.3’x 13′ – Built: Jenkins Brothers, Walkerville, Ontario 1873, Iron Hull – 1,222 GRT – Engines: 2 x horizontal low pressure 50”x 108”- 1360 HP – Built by E.E. Gilbert & Sons Montreal, Quebec. Capacity – 2 tracks, 16 cars. Disposition – converted to barge to carry containers, then converted to a restaurant beside Cobo Hall in Detroit. Scrapped in Buffalo three years ago. Photos of engine attached prior to the scrapping.

MICHIGAN CENTRAL – US91652
263.3’x 45.6’x 15.3′- Built: Detroit Dry Dock Company 1884 – Iron Hull #65 – Two horizontal condensing engines – two cylinders each 28”x 48”- 1,200 HP – Four fire box boilers – 75 psi – Three tracks, 21 cars. Once the tunnel across the Detroit River was completed the NYC ferries were surplus. Sold to Kelly Island Lime and Transport Co. Resold August 1923 to TL Durocher and reduced to barge. Foundered near Cockburn Island October 27, 1926.

TRANSPORT – US145211
Built: Detroit Dry Dock Company 1880 – Iron Hull #34 – Two horizontal condensing engines – two cylinders each 28”x 48”- 575 HP – Four fire box boilers – 65 psi – Three tracks 21 cars. Sold to Wabash Rwy 1912 – same name in service. Sold to John Rosen Steamship Co., reduced to barge in 1933. Foundered September 22, 1942 near Eagle Harbor, Michigan.

The information on all Great Lakes Car Ferries is straight from “The Great Lakes Car Ferries” by Hilton.

(Credit: Mr. Chris Wiley – Sarnia, Ontario)

All photos courtesy of www.shorpy.com.


Rock on Trains © 2016, 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.

Grand Trunk Western Railway Steam Feature for February 2016

Grand Trunk Western HeraldFeatured Grand Trunk Western Railway steam subjects for this February post include various locomotive classes around the Brush St. station in Detroit:

  • GTW #5630 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56
  • GTW #5631 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56
  • GTW #5633 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56
  • GTW #6038 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56
  • GTW #6335 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56
  • GTW #6407 – Detroit MI – 8/13/56

All photos courtesy of www.godfatherrails.com.


Rock on Trains © 2016, 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: Bob Mitchell

December’s train recollections come to us from Mr. Bob Mitchell. Thanks for sharing your memories, Bob!


Bob Mitchell PhotoWindsor, Ontario, the Canadian city on the south shore of the Detroit River, was (and still is) a major industrial city like its big brother on the north shore. In the 1940’s it was laced with railroad tracks, both Canadian and American, having such names as Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Chesapeake and Ohio, Wabash, New York Central and Essex Terminal, the latter being the tie that bound all the others together. This was my birthplace and hometown and having come from a railroad family, I was steeped in and passionate for steam locomotives and everything that was associated with them. In fact, I loved all things that traveled on steel rails. The narrow gauge railroad that ran through the Detroit Zoological Park qualified for this. This was reached after a quick trip through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and an exciting ride on the old Peter Witt and PCC cars of the Detroit Street Railways. They glided and clanged up Woodward Avenue from Campus Martius towards Royal Oak where the wonders of this great zoo and its superb railroad beckoned.

My love of all things rail began with my grandparents. Granddad was a station agent with the Canadian Pacific Railway at Indian Head, Saskatchewan, way out west. The dreaded disease called Polio was so concentrated in the Detroit-Windsor area in the 1940’s and it affected so very many kids. Because of this, my Mom, who loved trains even more than I did, having been born in the upstairs residence of a CPR station, took me off to western Canada with her every summer for several years for a visit to Indian Head. There the outbreak wasn’t so bad. Did you know that the baggage cars between Windsor and Toronto carried an Iron Lung for transporting polio-stricken kids to Sick Childrens’ Hospital? West from Ontario, we enjoyed the comforts of the splendid heavyweight tuscan red sleepers and diners available to us on the crack Train #7 – The Dominion – pulled by beautiful Royal Hudson steam locomotives unique to the Canadian Pacific. The dining cars of the day were something to behold with their tables clothed in white linens and adorned with flowers in crystal vases, their cherry-wood paneling, brass fixtures, and the heavenly smells from the kitchen that were beyond belief! The service was impeccable with rules of serving having been set down long ago by William C. Van Horne, famous president of the CPR responsible for pushing the railway across Canada and through the Canadian Rockies. The train delivered us right to Granddad’s platform at Indian Head, the station being a regular stop on the transcontinental main line of the CPR. During one of those visits, we arrived at the height of one of those violent prairie storms. The power was out, and there was my rain-soaked Granddad, complete with railroad lantern, greeting all detainees at the step box. I spent many a wonderful day watching the activity around the “prairie skyscraper” grain elevators that lined the track and the comings and goings of the mainline freights from Granddad’s bay window. Mike, Granddad’s Irish Setter, was my pal. He met the dining car of each passenger train in his quest for table scraps and leftover bones. All the crews along the line knew Granddad and Mike.

Back in Windsor, I saw my first diesel locomotive a the Pillette Road crossing of the Wabash. It was a London-built GMD F7, resplendant in the famous blue and silver livery with the Wabash flag on the nose. These engines were manufactured exclusively for use between Windsor and Buffalo.

Over the years, I studied everything I could about North American railroads, specializing in the age of steam. I was a volunteer with the Canadian Railroad Historical Associations’s now-defunct Salem and Hillsborough Railroad in New Brunswick, Canada where we operated a very fine dinner train and a steam excursion train for many years. I also worked with a wonderful group of volunteers, the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society, that cosmetically restored ex-CNR 5588. This is a 1911 Grand Trunk product that sits on Windsor’s riverfront overlooking the beautiful Detroit skyline. It marks the spot where the first train arrived in Windsor (and to Detroit from the east) in 1854. How fortunate I have been to have had a life-long love of trains. I now share this by teaching Canadian railroad history with ElderCollege, a southwestern Ontario educational enrichment group associated with Canterbury College of the University of Windsor.


Rock on Trains © 2014, 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 © 2014, 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: Burgin, KY / Ooltewah, TN / Attalla, AL / Detroit, MI

Today’s featured Southern Railway depots are Burgin, KY (1980), Ooltewah, TN (1970), Attalla, AL (1978) and Michigan Central station, Detroit, MI (1982).

The Burgin, Ooltewah, and Attalla depots have been razed.  The Michigan Central station in Detroit still exists; its condition is slowly declining due to the elements, and its future is unknown at this time.

Southern Railway Depot – Burgin, KY (Credit: Tom Rock)

Southern Railway Depot – Ooltewah, TN (Credit Unknown)

Southern Railway Depot – Attalla, AL (Credit: Tom Rock)

Michigan Central Station – Detroit, MI (Credit: Tom Rock)


Rock on Trains © 2012, 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.