Canadian Corner: Canadian National Railway Steam Locomotives

canadian-flag-smallFeatured subjects this March are Canadian National Railway steam locomotives in various Ontario locations:

All photos courtesy of RailPictures.Net.


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.

Tennessee Central Railway Steam Feature for March 2020

Tennessee Central HeraldThe Tennessee Central Railroad began in 1892 to haul coal, iron, and lumber in Tennessee. The line ran from Harriman, TN west 163.5 miles to Nashville, then another 83.5 miles to Hopkinsville, KY, passing through Clarksville, TN. Along the line, there were several small branches. At Harriman, the TC connected with the Southern Railway.

In 1968, the TC was liquidated and parts of it were purchased by the IC, L&N, and Southern Railway. The Tennessee Central endured for over 80 years in the face of very tough odds, and played a considerable part in the economic development of its service region.

Tennessee Central Track Plan

Tennessee Central Track Plan

Featured Tennessee Central Railway steam subjects this month include various locations in Tennessee:

All photos courtesy of Mr. Bud Laws / Ron Kohlin Collection.


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.

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.

Southern Railway Engine #6910

In 1960, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was founded by Paul H. Merriman and Robert M. Soule along with a group of local railway preservationists who were concerned with saving steam locomotives and railway equipment for future historical display and use. In 1964, Mr. Merriman and Mr. Soule found out that the Kentucky & Tennessee Railroad was converting to diesel. With this in mind, they raised $5,000.00 and purchased K&T Nos. 10 & 12. The latter of the two engines originally belonged to the Southern Railway as 4501. Engine No. 10 was renumbered 6910. It ran for a short while after restoration. In October 1965, the engine made a fan trip to Cleveland, Tennessee from Chattanooga. I thoroughly enjoyed working with this engine back in 1978 & 1981. Currently, the engine is in storage at the TVRM.

The silent video of this historic trip is courtesy of HawkinsRails.net via YouTube.


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: Toronto Steam

Featured subjects this month are Canadian Pacific and Canadian National steam locomotives. These photos were taken in the early 1950’s at the John Street Roundhouse (CPR) and the Spadina Roundhouse (CNR) in Toronto, Ontario.

CPR No. 2806 at the John St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR No. 5565 at the Spadina St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR Nos. 6066 & 6069 at the Spadina St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR Roundhouse and yards at Spadina St (Credit: Walter Taylor)


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: Ontario Steam

Featured subjects this month are a mix of Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and New York Central steam locomotives photographed at various locations across Ontario:

CNR No. 5701 – Kitchener, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CNR No. 6233 – Reclamation Yard, Stratford, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 2398 – Johns St. Roundhouse, Toronto, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 2818 – Departing Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 3002 – Jubilee in the yard, Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

NYC No. 5372 – Departing Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)


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.

Looking Back: “Journey to Steam’s Final Hour”

Looking back at my first couple of blog posts–August 2011!  Where did the time go?  Thank you loyal followers for joining me on this journey.  Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy 2020…

“Steam’s Final Hour” by Tom Rock

My name is Tom Rock.  I am a self-taught train artist; I’ve been painting railroad scenes since 1972.  Here at Rock on Trains, I will share with you, the reader, the background information on each one of my paintings.  I began lithographing my work in 1988, but in today’s blog entry, you’ll learn about my 1994 painting, Steam’s Final Hour.

When I first started painting trains, it never occurred to me that I’d be penning such a historic scene.  The historical perspective associated with Steam’s Final Hour actually goes back to the fall of 1991.  While I was participating in an art show on the grounds of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, I met Mr. John Reese.  As we conversed, I learned that John was a retired Southern Railway conductor who worked the Royal Palm out of Terminal Station.

We kept in close contact over the next few years.  In the fall of 1993, he invited me to display my art at an upcoming World War II retired military railroader’s convention which was to be held in Chattanooga.  I did not know what to expect at the convention, but John reassured me that my work would certainly be welcomed. My confidence soared after reminiscing with many trainmen at the event.  John then introduced me to Mr. Ralph Clevenger, who served as the brakeman on the last Southern steam engine on June 17, 1953.

Listening to this historical icon speak provided the inspiration for my next painting; I would paint the scene that Ralph was a part of in June 1953. This piece would be released in 1994 — the Southern Railroad’s 100th anniversary, and also the final year of the Southern’s steam program.  This image could not be more fitting.  I informed Ralph of my plans for my new painting and asked if he would countersign my prints.  He agreed, but proceeded to tell me not to forget Clarence. Clarence McMahan served alongside Ralph as the flagman on the final Southern steam engine.

Clarence McMahan, Tom Rock, Ralph Clevenger

As time passes, so do precious souls; Mr. McMahan passed away a few years ago, and Mr. Clevenger passed away 3 months ago.  Steam’s Final Hour is a fitting tribute to hard working railroad men like Ralph and Clarence.  Their legacy will live on forever.

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

Below are photos taken during the painting’s development.  In my next entry, I hope to share video clips from the print signing.  Enjoy!

Preliminary layout for “Steam’s Final Hour”

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 60 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 110 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 162 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 206 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

I hope you enjoyed your behind-the-scenes tour of Steam’s Final Hour.  There was something symbolic about that Wednesday afternoon in June — the best of steam power, represented by the 6330, giving way to the best of diesel power.  On Wednesday, June 17, 1953, at 3:00PM, an era — an age, an epoch — ended.  It is like we shall never see again.

To conclude this historical journey, I’m sharing several photos taken on that memorable day:

Ralph Clevenger taking water at Montlake, Tennessee.  (Credit: Chattanooga Times)

The 6330 Crew from L-R: J.E. Griffey, fireman; A.R. Clevenger, brakeman; C.D. McMahan, flagman, Harry H. Houghton, conductor, and C.F. Case, engineer. (Credit: Mr. Howard Olmstead, courtesy of the Southern Railway Historical Association)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

Click here to view footage from the print signing on November 19, 1994.

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.


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.