Grand Trunk Western, MI, ’82-’84

We’ve added a new gallery to Laughing Frog ImagesGrand Trunk Western in eastern Michigan, 1982-1984.

The Grand Trunk Western in eastern Michigan was a natural side trip to the pursuits of the Port Huron and Detroit from 1982 to 1984.

Their Tunnel Yard office was directly across the Pere Marquette and Grand Trunk Western mains from the PH&D office.

Everything in and out of Port Huron (PH&D, PM (as the ex-PM/C&O/Chessie System was known, and the Trunk) went by or near Tappan Tower at the West end of the yard.

The Trunk had a regular run-through freight with the Milwaukee Road, so you could see Milwaukee power in Port Huron.  The assimilation of the Detroit Toledo and Ironton was taking place during this time, as was the assimilation of the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line.  Assimilation meant variety, and also lament.  There were ex-Rock Island GP38-2’s running around in patched Rock Island paint.  There was variety…

The Tunnel Yard engine facility was wide open.  Switchers and Geeps lay in wait.  One of the shades of GT blue was the correct one!  And, there were still some units running around in GT black.

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Detroit Toledo and Ironton’s Flat Rock Yard was an easy diversion off of I-75 between Toledo and Detroit.

And, back then, in a galaxy far far away in a time long ago, as long as you checked in, stayed off of the tracks and equipment, and didn’t do anything stupid, you could take your pictures in peace.

So, it was easy.

But… the PH&D was the main attraction, and easy shooting of the Trunk didn’t always mean that everything was always in the best light. I’ve tried to make the images as close to perfect as I can, but in some cases, they’re dark below the frame.  I debated whether or not to include some of them – but I decided to include them, as a dark underframe on a GTW unit is better than no GTW unit at all.

That said, I captured a reasonable representation of the GTW in eastern Michigan in that time frame.  This gallery will likely appeal to model railroaders as well as the ferroequinologists out there.


Port Huron & Detroit in color, 1982-84

I discovered the Port Huron & Detroit Railroad with a forgotten cohort in July of 1982.

An Alco-powered shortline in Michigan, the Port Huron & Detroit was something new to me.  Alco switchers were all but gone in Western Pennsylvania. And the folks there put up with, educated, tolerated, and supported a young railroad photographer.

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I was shooting Kodachrome 64 – each slide cost me just shy of a quarter for film, postage and processing. I was making $4-5 dollars an hour through various summer enterprises. And I lived about 300 miles away.  30+ years later, I wish I’d shot more… I have too many memories of the people that made the railroad what it was, and too few pictures of them.

Back then, I was still mastering Kodachrome, let along photography in general.  After working the scanner for hours, it’s been hours of cleaning, editing, and fixing.  The PH&D gallery can be found on Laughing Frog Images by clicking here.

I made several trips to the Port Huron & Detroit through the end of the railroad’s time shooting black and white and color (that’s how you had to do it back then – no click of a mouse in a software program like there is these days!).  In December of 1984, the Port Huron & Detroit was purchased by CSX.  I still keep in touch with a couple former employees. Doesn’t seem like 30 years ago…

The Frog is working on a black and white Port Huron & Detroit gallery – hopefully it will be up before Thanksgiving.

Port Huron was also served by the Grand Trunk Western and Chessie System (former Chesapeake and Ohio, and before that, Pere Marquette).  The Chessie line was still referred to as the “PM”, and had a carfloat operation to Sarnia, Ontario that I never shot…  (Yes, I regret it – but the lighting was bad in the morning, and by the time the light came around, I was chasing the PH&D.)  You could drive in to the Trunk’s engine facility, check in – and as long as you stayed off of the tracks and engines – and didn’t do anything stupid, all was well.  Look for future blog posts and galleries from these railroads I came to know because of the PH&D.

The Port Huron & Detroit Railroad Historical Society’s Facebook Page can be found here.

Half of all profits from this gallery will be donated to the Port Huron & Detroit Historical Society.

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