Rock on Trains History: My Train Recollections

Today, I offer you a brief narrative of my own infatuation with trains. I hope you enjoy this blast from my past!

Tom and the Detroit Zoo train

A very young Tom Rock and the Detroit Zoo train

My interest in trains began at a very early age, probably when I was 5 or 6 years old. My father would often take me to Sarnia, Ontario, to visit my great-grandfather, an engineer for Canadian National Railways. His job involved moving electric freight trains from Sarnia to Port Huron, Michigan. Canadian National rules would not allow me to stay on board the train during these movements, but grandfather made sure I boarded once the engine was parked near the roundhouse. At this time, Canadian National was still running steam, so it was quite an experience for a 6-yr. old to grasp the size of one of those coal-fired giants.

When I was 10 years old, my father accepted a job in California. On the way out west, we stayed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My father noted my fascination with trains, so he took me to the Union Pacific station in Cheyenne for a closer look. There I saw a diesel locomotive up close for the very first time. When the engineer offered a tour of the cab, I backed away and refused to board. After a little encouragement from my father, I finally climbed the ladder and got into the cab. The engineer tried to show me the entire working components of the engine, but I wanted no part of it. I grew up around steam engines, but the sounds that this new type of locomotive produced frightened me. With that, I gracefully exited the engine.

Back in the 50’s, Chrysler produced locomotives to be used at the Detroit Zoo. These scaled-down versions of steam engines would carry patrons around the entire zoo complex. One day while I visited the zoo, my father took a photo of me studying one of the engines before it departed. I had convinced myself at this age that a railroad life was for me, but like all dreams, some come true and some do not.

Upon my high school graduation, I took a drafting job. This lasted 43 years until my retirement came in 2006. During those 43 years, I worked with many notable NASA illustrators that taught me the art of painting with acrylics.

I had to trade my railroading dream for painting, which flourished into railroad nostalgic scenes. Evidence of this dream can be seen on this blog or at my website, Rock on Trains.


Rock on Trains © 2020, 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

DETROIT – 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.

History courtesy of “The Great Lakes Car Ferries” by Hilton.

All photos courtesy of Shorpy.com.


Rock on Trains © 2019, 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.

Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Steam Feature for November 2018

Featured Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad steam subjects for this November post include various locations in Ohio:

  • DT&I #200 – Springfield, OH – 2/39
  • DT&I #412 – Jackson, OH – 9/52
  • DT&I #417 – Jackson, OH – 9/52
  • DT&I #700 – Springfield, OH – 6/41
  • DT&I #702 – Springfield, OH – 4/21/42
  • DT&I #705 – Jackson, OH – 6/50

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


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.

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.