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.

Grand Trunk Western Railway Steam Feature for June 2019

Featured Grand Trunk Western Railway steam subjects for this June post include various locations in Michigan and Illinois:

  • GTW #2672 – Battle Creek, MI – 7/50
  • GTW #3734 – Battle Creek, MI – 7/50
  • GTW #3750 – Pontiac, MI – 7/19/56
  • GTW #5043 – Durand, MI – 1930
  • GTW #5627 – Durand, MI – 8/4/57
  • GTW #6410 – Chicago, IL – 10/38

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


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.

Depot Doings: LaCrosse, IN / Benton Harbor, MI / Breckinridge, MI / Greenville, MI / Newaygo, MI / Barboursville, WV / Marlinton, WV

Featured Chesapeake & Ohio depots on the blog this month are those in Indiana, Michigan, and West Virginia:

  • C&O Depot – LaCrosse, IN – 10/11/75
  • C&O Depot – Benton Harbor, MI – 6/9/73
  • C&O Depot – Breckinridge, MI – 5/81
  • C&O Depot – Greenville, MI – 5/5/83
  • C&O Depot – Newaygo, MI – 11/6/86
  • C&O Depot – Barboursville, WV – 8/2/84
  • C&O Depot – Marlinton, WV – 6/79

All photos courtesy of Old Time Trains.


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.

 

Train Wreck at Michigan Central Station – September 16, 1940

“At 11:10 am a New York Central train derailed in front of the Michigan Central Ann Arbor Michigan station. The force of the impact turned the locomotive on its side and stacked up the cars behind it. Various cars in the consist contained coal, oil and liquid asphalt. Surprisingly the engineer and firemen were able to crawl unharmed from the wreck, but a man riding behind the engine was killed and burned. The force of the impact was so great that rails and cross ties were ripped from their foundations and thrown 30 feet.”
Published in Issue:
Ann Arbor News September 16, 1940
Rights Held By:
Donated By Ann Arbor News

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.

 

Wabash Railroad Steam Feature for July 2018

Featured Wabash Railroad steam subjects for this July post include various locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan:

  • WAB #526 – Chicago, IL – 8/29/48
  • WAB #1502 – Grand Rapids, MI – 1940
  • WAB #2068 – Des Moines, IA – 1939
  • WAB #2507 – Landess, IN – 2/39
  • WAB #2917 – Decatur, IL – 2/22/53
  • WAB #2921 – Decatur, IL – 9/11/48

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.