Michigan Central Station – 1976

Up today is a photo of the old Michigan Central Station that was located just east the present intersection of Pelletier & McKay. The photo dates to July, 1976.

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In November, 1996, the station was the victim of an arsonist, and it burned to the ground. Even today, as you can see in the aerial photos the old platform is still visible. Any memories of the old station out there?


42 Comments on Michigan Central Station – 1976

  1. i still can’t beleive that for a city with sooooooo much railway heritage, there is virtually nothing to say so. can you imagine the steam engines arriving, watching as the Maple Leafs get off to enjoy a once thriving city before a game in Detroit?!!that used to be such a busy spot. such a good loking building.the station seems like it should be in santa fe or some other dusty, desert like locale. you can still see the platform for the shelter across the old mainline (used to be two tracks there). i think that concrete rectangle with earth in it would have been the staircase to the pedestrian tunnel from the shelter (which was also a very nice structure). pull the map over towards Wellington and you see the concrete walkway which led to the tunnel, and another patch running north west from the walkway would have been the platform area for the freight house. if you follow the dirt road from there,it follows an old railbed that crossed over collage, crossed the ETR tracks,then dipped down into the rail cut, under university, wyndotte, and riverside to the car ferries.
    how is it we as a community had 4……4! beautiful train stations welcoming people to the city….and not a single one of them remain?? to be replaced with a single, ugly box. i understand passenger service isn’t even a whisper of what it was, but gimme a break. there are hundreds of stations around north america with no tracks anywhere near them for miles because they’ve been pulled up…yet they still stand, and those communities get to enjoy them, learn about, and understand they’re past.

    oh…..and nice replacements for the building’s lighting! street lights???

    thanks for the post Andrew!

  2. intrestingly, if not in the “never gonna happen” file….i found this article in the city website talking about VIA Rail wanting to move their station closer to downtown and want to run on CP’s tracks. here’s the location they’d like:

    • VIA would prefer a new Windsor station closer to downtown.
    • A potential site for a new station is the area north of the Van de
    Water Yard, bounded by the Windsor Subdivision, the ETR
    mainline, and Tecumseh Road.

    isn’t that exactly where this one stood??? stupid arsonist. the damn thing could have been used once again. i’m not sure this is closer than Walkerville though. i think they should bring the trains right downtown and stop infront of the casino almost like they used to. a couple tracks with really nice wrought iron fencing around it would work great on the water. just keep it close to the hill along the drive so it don’t split the park up too much.

  3. I remember that place very well. I lived a couple blocks away. There was a maintenance tunnel of some sort that had an enterance off of Wellington. I woner if there is any sign of that today.

  4. Was this the station the CP used or was there another not too far from it? I hadn’t thought the one I’m remembering was this far south. I took the CP to and from London when I was in high school and returned from Welland that way once some years later. I thought the one that burned was the station I’d been to and that one looks like it but then, they all looked pretty much alike at one time.

  5. I used to hang out there all the time as a kid with my father as he was a train fan and we knew the switch board operator, Ken Annett. The switch board to run the tunnel train traffic was installed in the main room (seen in the photo – underneath the “Windsor” sign). The station was in **immaculate** condition. I was just a kid at the time but I do recall being impressed by the interior and how well everything was maintained despite the station’s only use being to house the tunnel switch board… which of course was then replaced digitally sometime in the mid to late 90’s, leaving the station completely vacant… and sadly, ripe for vandals to destroy, which is what happened. I have a lot of memories there as I literally had the run of the place – I was I had brought a camera with me in retrospect. My dad still has some photos of the station, inside and out, from the 80’s though, perhaps I’ll have to get him to dig them up for this site.

  6. I remember in the 60’s, C.P. Passenger service used this station. My uncle came in on the train near christmas and we went to meet him. I was maybe 7yrs old. He got of the train, the station was crowded, and he starts yelling “I shot him, I shot Santa Clause”. While my parents could explain that Uncle Doug was just joking, I always wondered how other parents explained it. A beautiful building, now just a vacant spot.

  7. I know this won’t happen, but purely from a railfan point of view – how about extending the tracks back to river, having them go under Riverside Dr along the waterfront (giving visitors a great view, then the tracks would go back under Riverside and link up with the other tracks along Caron, and put the station there? Obviously, the park would be impacted. Maybe the park could be built over the tracks? Anyway, if I were building it as my train layout, it would be that way. No need to turn the trains around. But I realize it is more complicated than that.

  8. First off no one wants a train station in their backyard especially for what is planned for teh city centre west lands.
    Secondly, train tracks on the waterfront? It was a fiasco the first time and took over 100 years to get that riverfront back (Smartly, Stratford decided to tell CP {or CN} to stuff when the railway wanted to do the same along the Avon river). No thanks.

    Now having a train station closer to downtown in the area above plus light rail? Now that would be forward progrees. Seeing that Windsor/Essex is so damned provincial nothing will ever happen.

  9. it’s gonna be pretty difficult to bring a station closer to downtown without putting it in someone’s backyard ME. infact, putting a station where this one stood still puts it right back in peoples backyards. but if you move next to the mainline of a class 1 railroad you shouldn’t expect it to be pindrop quiet at any time of the day…..ever. i wouldn’t worry about tracks on the river anyway…they want a station here for access to the tunnel and Amtrak. but building a new station, in that neighbourhood, just seems like a bad idea. unless it helps to revitalize the area, there’s nothing to take you downtown (unless a dedicated shuttle or lightrail is introduced)and i wouldn’t really recommend walking thru it or waiting for a bus (closest bus is the dominion). it’s not a particularly bad area, but it ain’t no rose either. same problem where the station is right now…you get off, your in beautiful old walkerville. now, head down wyandotte to reach downtown, duck & weave your way thru the crack heads and hookers and with any luck, you still have a wallet when you get to the hotel.
    i don’t think anyone (CN/CP/ETR)but VIA is on board with this idea anyways so we shouldn’t worry about it. there’s too many logistical issues between the RR companies to make it work.

  10. Memory says there were some serious discussions before the station burned about re-opening it to service direct Amtrak service between Detroit and Toronto/Buffalo/New York City. I don’t know if closing Walkerville (where many of us boarded CNR steam excursions behing 6167 and 6218 in the 60’s) was part of the discussion at that time.

  11. You know what is planned but it will fall through if no one supports it. Then we will continue to have parking lots for another 20 years.

  12. From what I read, there was talk to put a new train station by the airport to coincide with the new cargo village (which would have a container rail yard there with freight train access coming from the south part of the old C&O off the CASO), the VIA trains branching off up the old C&0/CN heading south towards the airport to make that location a major entrance point to the city. City Council seems interested in keeping up Big Box Yuppie Land out there so that makes perfect sense from that perspective. And the old C&O/CN line running alongside Walker Rd is going to need some more traffic once GM closes in order to stay open for sure.

  13. If you look at the demographics of VIA Rail users, its current location isn’t that bad, many of the users are students who can take the CrossTown bus route from the university and be there in 10 minutes, where another large group of users are out of town business people who attend meetings downtown, they can leave their meeting at 4:45 on a Friday hop in a cab and still make the 5:10 train. One improvement that would make sense is to build a new station on the south side of the tracks, this would allow for more parking as well give it a more noticeable presence on Wyandotte. Just my 2 cents.

  14. As a wiz-kid with CNT in 1950, the Great Western station at the foot of Ouellette (Goyeau, exactly) was quite convenient. I stayed with family on Caron Ave. south of Wyandotte. There was a “Creepy R” switching yard just to the west, including a northward line down to their boat dock. There they had a small station perched on the north side of Riverside Dr. West where an operator despatched trains to/from their car ferries to Detroit. Some insisted there was a CP passenger station, but it definitely wasn’t that shack at Riverside Dr./CP docks. All I recall was Great Western (CN)(later in Walkerville) and Michigan Central passenger stations. All the railfans and historians around here cannot pinpoint any CP passenger facility other than sharing the Michigan Central. Anyone have a clue?

  15. Windsor had its very own serial killer! As a 12-year-old visiting family in Windsor in 1946, the city of Windsor was abuzz with this series of killings; the perp was called “The Slasher”. The author of a book “The Slasher Killings” (Patrick Brode, Wayne State University Press 225 pages, $25) was reviewed by Jim Bartley in the Jan. 28, 2010 issue of a periodical called “Xtra!”. Seems the dastardly acts occured in a very bad part of “a border town” (then, of course) adjacent to the railway property north of Riverside Drive East at about Glengarry.
    Well, maybe now we are into a forum way off from architectural “gems”, so may I suggest St. George’s Church, Walkerville — a brash design (then) in 1954? I always thought a unique structure at 1190 Hall Ave. might be worthy of investigating… if it’s still standing.
    Love this site, keep up the excellent work!

  16. Ken – there was, without a doubt, a CP passenger station at the foot of Caron and Riverside. It was a beautiful building, which had a very, very nice tower on it wich housed offices (i beleive). a spiral, covered ramp (or steps) led from the tracks to Riverside and I’m sure into the building itself.
    I have a postcard of it but I can’t post it on here…I’m sure Andrew has one somewhere, maybe even here but I can’t find it.
    as a matter of fact, if you go to the bridge over the rail cut at Riverside drive, the eastern stone foundations of the bridge are also the foundations for the station. You’ll notice the blocked up doorway and window. i beleive it was torn down in the late 20’s early 30’s.
    if you don’t mind posting you e-mail, i’ll shoot ya a copy of it.

  17. i also beleive this station should be re-constructed and used as a rest station for the riverfront trail. it could house a small collection of photographs of what the riverfront looked like as a railyard, what the detroit skyline looked like over the decades……anything really. it could have bathrooms, maybe an area to get refreshments or a small bite to eat……hell, might as well squeeze a little Timmie’s in there!

    this, i think would be great, since once your on the river there’s nothing to do for any length of time but sit, stare, sit, walk, sit, stare. it’s a beautiful riverfront, but aside from recreation trails….nothin much to do.

  18. Ya know, it would be great if Andrew, or someone else could start up a messageboard where people could start topics, post pictures, etc…

  19. i thought about that too….but this site’s free. I assume someone (Andrew) would have to start paying for it, which means WE start paying for it. Of course I’ve also thought that prehaps the smaller local buisness’ could also pay for advertising on IM. It would get them a butt load of exposure, that’s for sure.
    I have no idea what’s involved in that, but it sounds like it would eat up alot of the time Andrew has tried to free up for himself.

  20. Aaron, thank you, thank you, thank you. I finally have an answer! And, sure, thanks for your offer. Try: kena@mycybernet.net
    I’m hoping, before I hit eighty, to get down to Windsor. If only to check out the old CP station site at Caron/Sandwich/Riverside (thanks to you, sir) — in addition for a visit to what’s left of my family: three memorials at Victoria Memorial Cemetery. My first since 1987.
    And from what I hear, I’ll be disappointed if I want to visit downtown. My only uplift/refuge when visiting will be Ottawa Street/Walkerville.

  21. Hey, not a problem at all Ken!
    I’m going to send you a couple pictures. Give me a few to gather them and I’ll give that e-mail a shot.

  22. If you are interested in the Canada Soutrern Railway, New York Central Con Rail, check out the site Canada Southern Railway. Lots of imformation about the line from Buffalo to Windsor, the branch to Leamington (now removed) the Sarnia branch (now removed) and the connection with Hamilton Buffalo and Toronto railway, a joint venture of Canadian Pacific and the New York Central.

  23. back in 1978-79 Amtrak did run passenger trains across southern ontario into new york state it was called the Niagara Rainbow i guess ridership wasn’t what the railroad thought it would be so it was discontinued on the other hand Amtrak still runs a train in ontario called the maple leaf it comes from NYC and crosses the border thru the tunnel in sarnia

  24. I laughed i remeber last year when city council was taking about this Intermodal rail depot out at the airportthey had to have some one from the railroad attend the meeting because 3/4’s of them didn’t even know what intermodal meant

  25. The Amtrack Maple Leaf, daily service from NY city to Toronto, and Toronto to NY city via Buufalo NY.Train number 63 and 64, a 12 hour ride.
    The Toronto to Chicago is the Biuewater Service,train number 365 and 364 through Sarnia tunnel. If ever high speed rail that is the probable route not through Windsor.

  26. Ken i might be wrong but i think CP might have had a passenger station located right in the yard near crawford avenue

  27. i can’t understand why the city was so intent on building a new train station out near the airport its pracitcally on the outskirts of town i read here someone mentioned having to wlk thru the midtown area with the whores pick pockets and crack heads i can’t understand why transit windsor doesn’t have one of the small buses the size of the short ones they use for the tunnel to start a shuttle to the downtown bus station seeing how the bus company is always belly aching from no revenue maybe via could help pay for part of the shuttle service

  28. Gary – i really don’t think they had another station after they tore the one at riverside down. that’s probably when they started to share the MCR station, which may be what your thinking.
    also it doesn’t matter what the city is pushing for. VIA has no intention of moving to the airport, they wanted to get closer to downtown. as it stands now they’ve already made an announcment to build a new one on the current site.

  29. Yes, VIA has announced that they will build next to their existing station. Locating at the airport was suggested by the mayor as an intermodal link. Personally, I don’t think it was such a good idea. I would rather have seen the new station built on the West side and to make use of the tunnel for US bound traffic. Politicians keep talking about high speed service along the Windsor-Quebec corridor. As it stands now, US bound trains use the Sarnia tunnel. Consequently, they soon will be talking about Sarnia-Quebec corridor high speed service and the London-Windsor corridor will become a branch (milk run) line. I think it would have been possible to locate the new VIA near downtown (a short shuttle ride) and make use of the tunnel (old or new) to continue on to Chicago. Opportunity missed. VIA could continue using their rail from London, contract with ETR to traverse the city to the West… and it would have been scenic enough. Well maybe.

  30. Aaron i remember as a kid CP ran Budd RDC cars for their passenger service to london/Toronto i always thought they had another station right in CP’s crawford ave yard i remember seeing the RDC cars running across the diamond at Walkerville Jct i think they discotinued passenger sevice in about 69-70

  31. If Via wanted access to the westside, they have their own tracks from the Y at Jefferson to the spur parrel to Walker Rd. to the CN tracks ( old NYC line) to west side of Windsor, CN now runs two freight trains a day from Chatham this way,the trains Gary complained about.

  32. the only problem with opening that building as a bathroom/snack bar is the city only staffs it when something is going on in the park great idea anyway

  33. I remember the station well. My Grandparents built and lived in the home west of the station on the north side of Pelletier. The first home after Station Lunch. The grocery store on the corner of Pelletier and McKay was their business De Vittori Grocery. My grandfather helped build the station as well as the train tunnel before he built the grocery store. They lived in the store’s upper level with his 2 brothers until he managed to build his home. One of his brothers built the home directly across the street from my grandparents home and the third brother stayed in the stores upper level. I have some excellent old memories from that time.

  34. My early sojourn (1953 or so) in Windsor working at the CN Telegraph office on Ouellette next to the Canada Building and the Honey Dew restaurant involved checking out the New York Central Railway station and the Station Lunch. Met the neighbourhood people there, Pat Ryan and the Hanson brothers from Currie Ave. and I recall we all liked the food. The tunnel under the tracks (to avoid the electrified “third rail” to meet trains from St. Thomas, Buffalo, etc. and heading for the tunnel) was great fun and for “hanging out”.

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