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BigRedDog

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Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« on: April 30, 2015, 08:35:00 AM »

In 1920 Henry Ford purchased the former DT&I (Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton [note: that is Ironton, Ohio...  down on the Ohio river...  not Ironton, MI]).  His intent was to control costs of both incoming supplies and outgoing finished vehicles.  Although the railroad was not a major line it had connections with all of the east-west lines across the country at the time.  In short order he decided he could reduce costs even more by using electric locomotives rather than steam.  He was already generating his own power at the River Rouge complex and he decided the electric would be efficient up to 30 miles away from the generator. 

This rail line crosses from Wayne County into Monroe County at Flat Rock and then goes to Carleton and then Maybee and then crosses the River Raisin east of Dundee and M-50 it's the overpass that you have go down and under.  Next there is a rail crossing in Dundee Township called Dyan.  It heads pretty much southwest from there down to Delta Ohio.  That is about as far as I've ever 'tracked' (intended pun) it!

I got to thinking about this 'history' again last week while looking at all the photos of the scene at the recovery and investigation of Chelsea's body.  You can see the footings or piers in the photos that were intended to support big arches (cantanaries) that would then carry the electric wires to power the locomotives. 

This is one of dozens of photosin the news last week that show the piers although this one is about the best one I've seen. 


Here's another one showing them stretching off toward the I-275 overpass.  This is looking southwest toward Carleton.  It's hard to see the ones on the opposite side of the tracks...   and some have been removed over the years so maybe they're not all there.  If you use Google aerials it will zoom down close enough to see them.  I could see them as far SW as the intersection with the tracks and Stewart Road.  So, obviously old Henry intended for them to go at least that far!!!



Here is a photo showing what the arches look like...  this is from somewhere in the Downriver area where there are still plenty of them just standing.

Note that the powerlines in this photo have absolutely nothing to do with the arches...  they're just in the background. 



Again, using the Google aerial photos the first arch still standing (going northeast from Flat Rock) is just north of Pennsylvania and just east of I-75 (probably hidden from view on 75 from the landfill. 

A question for the 'old timers'...

does anyone remember seeing these in Monroe County?

If so, how far southwest did they go?

Flat Rock, Carleton, Maybee or Dyan?

The info is pretty well documented in Wayne County so it would be nice to try to add some more info for Monroe County. 

There is an interesting 'feature' of this line down in Delta, Ohio.  You can see the tracks just east of the steel plant going directly south.  They are elevated and several of the county roads go under them.  From what I can see this was built so they could 'hump' the rail cars from up there (they let gravity roll them down and then someone is running a series of switches to sort them to different trains...  this lets them move without having to use a locomotive to move them.  You can see on the side of some rail cars...



'Do Not Hump'...   it's not what you may have thought it was ;D ;D ;D

The articles below have various info on how far the 'electrification' project was to extend.  Over the years I've read sources that say as far as Dyan and others say Maybee and Carleton. 


http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/10/26/henry-fords-railroad/

http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Stories/DT&I-TheRailroadThatWentNoPlacePart2.htm

http://detroit1701.org/Henry%20Ford's%20Electric%20Railroad.html

Less details here but still some related info if you want to sort it all out...  also lots more info on the many other rail lines that criss crossed Monroe County.

http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Timeline/TimeLine1920s.htm

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=59615

Any thoughts or comments appreciated...  but especially info on how far both the piers and possibly the arches extended into Monroe County.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2015, 09:19:39 AM »

Hmmm...  no one commenting! 

I've been reading quite a bit on this and picking brains of some friends and their family that lived in the north county area and no one is recalling seeing the arches anywhere in Monroe County.  I've found the 1949 aerial views of the area NE of Carleton but the resolution isn't good enough to really be sure although I don't see anything that even looks suspicious. 

Other than that we'll have to rely on some old photos or 'memory' :( :( :(
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excelsior

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2015, 12:17:54 PM »

Thanks for the interesting read BRD!

I was wondering what those concrete structures were for when I saw them in the pictures from the recent news story.  I did not realize the Henry Ford link.   

Sometimes I run into Ford's Corporate Historian Bob Kreipke.  I will have to ask him about it.
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Skittelroo

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2015, 03:28:36 PM »

Hubby has a book about this rail line.  Henry Ford was planning to make an electric-train line powered by his good friend, Thomas Edison.   It never got finished.

Hubby says the bases  for the arches went just past Maybee.

I will try to remember to check out his book ..... if he gets it out for me.

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SidecarFlip

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2015, 07:27:58 PM »

Very interesting.  I'm kicking around buying and restoring a rail speeder so I can go 'ride the rails'.  Theyctually have a couple clubs and do rail tours all ovet the country.  I think the President of the biggest club lives in Eaton Rapids.

I never knew what the arches were for, you can see them along 94 by the Uniroyal tire.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2015, 08:22:00 AM »

Thanks for the interesting read BRD!

I was wondering what those concrete structures were for when I saw them in the pictures from the recent news story.  I did not realize the Henry Ford link.   

Sometimes I run into Ford's Corporate Historian Bob Kreipke.  I will have to ask him about it.

That would be great!!!

Hubby has a book about this rail line.  Henry Ford was planning to make an electric-train line powered by his good friend, Thomas Edison.   It never got finished.

Hubby says the bases  for the arches went just past Maybee.

I will try to remember to check out his book ..... if he gets it out for me.

That sounds like the book that some of the links I posted referred to, but would be nice to see if maybe there was any other more detailed info in the book.

Very interesting.  I'm kicking around buying and restoring a rail speeder so I can go 'ride the rails'.  Theyctually have a couple clubs and do rail tours all ovet the country.  I think the President of the biggest club lives in Eaton Rapids.

I never knew what the arches were for, you can see them along 94 by the Uniroyal tire.

I've always wanted to take a ride on a Gandy Dancer (the rail cart you pump the handles up and down to propel...  not the restaurant in A2)!  When I was at NMU one of the guys had a car (I don't recall now what it was)...   let some air out of the tires and just drive it onto the tracks at a crossing and start 'driving the rails' ;D ;D ;D  Even back then most of the rail lines were already abandoned or very seldom used so the chances of encountering a train were pretty slim. 
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The Fuzz

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 08:24:40 AM »

I wondered what the hell those arches were, great read BRD, thanks!
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2015, 08:34:52 AM »

Here are some pictures I took yesterday with my cell phone...   all are at the intersection of the railroad at Northline road and on the north side of Northline (does that make it Taylor instead of Woodhaven)?!

Looks like some of these towers are going to have to come down before long too.











I have some more including some close ups that are in a different camera...   I'll have to upload them later!

I wondered what the hell those arches were, great read BRD, thanks!


When I first remember seeing them...   and it was actually right there at the stretch crossing Northline I (incorrectly as it turned out) 'assumed' that they had been for the interurban line that ran from Monroe to Detroit.  As far as I know all the interurban wires in this area were just hung on wooden poles and cross arms and of course they are now 'long gone'...  Obviously HF had a good idea on using the concrete.  There are some of the glass (ceramic I guess) insulators on top of the ones I saw yesterday!!!

We had lunch at Bagger Dave's on West road.  It's actually just east of this rail line and has a railroad theme including a neat large scale model train running around the dining area.  They are a Michigan founded company and use feature lots of Michigan products.

I'm sure many people would say 'oh, that would be so neat to have in Monroe'...

but I'm thinking it's more likely we'll see one in Toledo!!!

I think I saw that they have one in A2!

http://www.baggerdaves.com/
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2015, 09:18:36 AM »

Very interesting.  I'm kicking around buying and restoring a rail speeder so I can go 'ride the rails'.  Theyctually have a couple clubs and do rail tours all ovet the country.  I think the President of the biggest club lives in Eaton Rapids.

I never knew what the arches were for, you can see them along 94 by the Uniroyal tire.

I do recall seeing them up there although I don't go that stretch of 94 very often.  You're getting pretty close to the Rouge Plant there and some of the articles mention in one of the switching yards that the towers were 'three wide'...   I'd like to find that and get some pictures if I can get close enough.

Random Google street view from 94:

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.272353,-83.207096,3a,39.8y,104.17h,88.9t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sLbHwf2lXQY7tusk_-mLPTA!2e0
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SidecarFlip

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2015, 09:39:48 AM »

From BRD:  "
I've always wanted to take a ride on a Gandy Dancer (the rail cart you pump the handles up and down to propel...  not the restaurant in A2)!  When I was at NMU one of the guys had a car (I don't recall now what it was)...   let some air out of the tires and just drive it onto the tracks at a crossing and start 'driving the rails'   Even back then most of the rail lines were already abandoned or very seldom used so the chances of encountering a train were pretty slim.  "

Those are actually for sale on the NARCOA website and so are various makes of rail speeders in various stages of restoration and fully restored plug and play units along with a couple Hyrail units (street legal vehicles that you drive on parallel to the tracks, lower the rail wheels and go motoring off down the right of way.....

Myself, I think a Speeder would be pretty neat.  They are trailerable to site and can be equipped with a turntable to change direction.  It appears the best ones are Fairmount Speeders (made in Fairmount, Minnesota) that come with electric start Onan engines and 2 speed transmissions.

I think the hand operated cares are called 'Pump Cars', not Gandy Dancers.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2015, 09:51:12 AM »

Yes, the 'gandy dancers' were the guys that operated those carts...   some references say gandy dancers were any of the crew members that layed or maintained the tracks and others refer to them as the 'track inspectors' who operated the hand operated cars. 

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SidecarFlip

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2015, 09:55:33 AM »

Myself, I'd rather have an internal combustion engine do the 'pumping' and me ride in the cab.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2015, 10:07:43 AM »

Some more pictures of the electric wire support towers and the piers from yesterday...   most of them are at Northline road:











You can see quite a bit of deterioration to the concrete here...  and the intact top insulator!








This one is down at E. Newburgh Rd. in Monroe County.  Apparently the piers are somewhat of an arch themselves.  We saw a few others where you could see that they are 'open' on the inside.  So, not just a huge block of concrete but I'll bet they're still heavy.  I wonder how 'deep' those legs go into the ground?



I've got a video too but I'll have to Youtube it later!!!

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BigRedDog

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2015, 07:31:46 AM »

I've been doing some more reading so going to list the additional resources in case anyone else wants to read too. 

This is an online 'preview' of a hardcover book...   I'll definitely be trying to find the 'book' since there is a lot more interesting info than just the electric train.  So far I'm stuck just reading on the 'Ford & Son' tractors.  I'd heard part of this but this book really puts it into perspective.

https://books.google.com/books?id=_6IYAC2qfNwC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69&dq=henry+ford+electric+train+arch&source=bl&ots=Itwe7sVNiC&sig=6gXUPgtZbdg170msB3vHuE7APA4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=PUFGVfGrL4fCggSn4ICgCA&ved=0CFMQ6AEwCw#v=onepage&q=henry%20ford%20electric%20train%20arch&f=false

http://abandonedonline.net/locations/railroads/detroit-toledo-and-ironton-railroad/

This is  a Flickr site with photos all along the tracks of the former DT&I (plus related lines)...   but, not a single photo in Monroe County!!!

https://www.flickr.com/photos_user_map.gne?path=&nsid=1407241%40N23&mode=group

I thought I posted these before but going to put them here so they're all in one place!!!

http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/10/26/henry-fords-railroad/

http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Stories/DT&I-TheRailroadThatWentNoPlacePart2.htm

http://www.downriverthings.com/henrys-rail-arches.html

https://dss-corp.com/Catenary_Caper.htm

http://detroit1701.org/Henry%20Ford's%20Electric%20Railroad.html

One thing almost happens when you find a treasure of 'answers'...

even more questions.  Now I'm finding a few references to part of the pre-Henry line being located near 'Durban, MI'...   sounds like it must have been in either SW Monroe County or SE Lenawee County.  I'm thinking 'Durban' wasn't really a village or town but just a 'rail crossing' like 'Dianne' in Monroe County.

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SidecarFlip

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Re: Henry Ford's electric railroad across Monroe County.
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2015, 10:08:21 AM »

I think Durban referrs to where the tracks intersect US 223.  I've heard that used before.

Pretty easy to follow the DT&I mianline.  All of the viaducts have a distinct design ala Henry Ford.

Would be a nice Rail Speeder excursion.  www.narcoa.org
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