Depot Doings: Wadley, AL / Mobile, AL / W. Alton, IL / Dwight, IL / Pontiac, IL

Featured Gulf, Mobile and Ohio depots this month are those in Alabama and Illinois:

GM&O Depot – Wadley, AL

Wadley, AL – The Wadley Railroad Depot is a historic train station in Wadley, Alabama. The depot was built in 1907 along the Atlanta, Birmingham, and Atlantic Railroad line as part of an expansion from West Point, Georgia, to Talladega, Alabama. The station closed to passenger traffic in 1964, and the line eventually came under the control of CSX Transportation.[2] The depot is one of only four surviving Mission Revival train stations in Alabama (the others being the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Passenger Terminal in Mobile; the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Cullman; and the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railroad Depot in the Bridgeport Historic District in Bridgeport).[3] The depot was named to the Alabama Historical Commission‘s Places in Peril list in 2009, which led to a community effort to preserve the building.[4] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.[1]

GM&O Depot – Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL – From historical research by GM&O employee (retired) Jim Sweatt –
The station was constructed in 1905-1906 by the Mobile & Ohio Railroad and was designed by architect P. Thorton Mayre; the total cost was $575,000. The style is most likely Mission Revival Style. The Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad (successor company to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad) vacated the building in 1986. After standing vacant for a number of years, the building was purchased by the City of Mobile and rehabilitated. Today the building is the headquarters office for the Metro Transit Authority, the local bus company. The original location of the tracks and platforms behind the building is now a parking lot and bus station. The building accommodates a number of businesses and is a good example of adaptive reuse.

GM&O Depot – W. Alton, IL – 9/13/90

W. Alton, ILAlton is a station in Alton, Illinois, that is served by Amtrak‘s Lincoln Service and the Texas Eagle. This was also a stop for the Ann Rutledge until April 2007. The former Alton Railroad station, later used by the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad is built of brick, and is staffed. It is one of 3 Amtrak stations in the St. Louis metropolitan area; the other two are the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center located in downtown St. Louis, and the Amtrak station in Kirkwood, Missouri. The depot was razed in 2017.

GM&O Depot – Dwight, IL – 1975

Dwight, ILDwight is a historic railroad depot and adjacent 2016 train station in Dwight, Illinois, United States, served by Amtrak, the national passenger railroad system. The historic depot, in use from 1891 until 2016, served Amtrak passenger traffic between Chicago and St. Louis, via the Lincoln Service train. Passenger service moved from the former depot south to a new station in October 2016. Built by the Chicago and Alton Railroad in 1891, the historic structure, designed by Henry Ives Cobb in the Richardson Romanesque style of rusticated masonry, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since December 27, 1982.[2] The foundation is of Joliet stone and the walls above are of Bedford blue stone from Indiana composed almost entirely of fossil shells.[3] In 1999, the village of Dwight offered the use of the depot to the Dwight Historical Society. The society moved its museum into the north end of the building; the south end holds both a meeting room for the society and the present office of the Dwight Chamber of Commerce.[3]

GM&O Depot – Pontiac, IL

Pontiac, ILPontiac is an Amtrak train station in Pontiac, Illinois, United States, served by the Lincoln Service and the Texas Eagle. This was also a stop for the Ann Rutledge until April 2007.

All photos courtesy of Google; historical data courtesy of Wikipedia and Waymarking.

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.

Grand Trunk Western Railway Steam Feature for February 2018

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

  • GTW #6302 – Chicago, IL – 11/5/40
  • GTW #6312 – Battle Creek, MI – 8/53
  • GTW #6332 – Pontiac, MI – 7/56
  • GTW #6336 – Chicago, IL – 12/30/54
  • GTW #8318 – Battle Creek, MI – 7/50
  • GTW #8373 – Muskegon, MI – 7/19/57

All photos courtesy of

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.

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.