Location / Name:
Flatrock / Woodhaven MI, Wayne County
Lot's of switching at the auto plants
Switching at the Detroit Edison Power Plant Coal Yard
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 734
Access by train/transit:
Well, when you think there isn't all that much to do or see in a certain
area, like here in Flatrock where the main attraction is the CN yard, you
start going around on the maps to see about signals, cool and different
grade crossings, bridges, overpasses, abandoned tracks, etc; and you
"discover" all sorts of neat things, if you are so inclined to railfan
If you're into mainline railfanning, you have four sets of tracks that
parallel each other coming up from the south and heading into Detroit by
NS's River Rouge yard in addition to what goes in and out of the Flatrock
If you are railfanning the parallel tracks, you might be able to catch
something working the various sidings, or the Trenton Power Plant coal yard.
One of the larger yards in the -Detroit area- is CN's
Flat Rock Yard (it's way south, so it may not really count as being in the
Detroit area, but if you're coming from 100 miles away, well....).
There is plenty of action around, even though you do
not have access to the inner workings of the yard.
Getting here is easy, via I-75.
Running parallel to Fort Ave are several lines running
north-south between Toledo and Detroit, and back in the "old" days, I betcha
there was almost non-stop railroading and railfanning along the stretch
where these lines ran parallel!
The best exit to take for southbounders is exit 32,
West Road. Head west to Hall Road and hang a left. Going this
way will take you past the fire station. When you reach Van Horne,
take a right, and go almost a mile to Peters Road on your left and take
that. Peters Road will bring you along the side of the yard down to
If you're coming up from Toledo, take exit 29,
Gibraltar Road west to (~ 1 mile) Hall Road and take a right. You will
be facing the southern side of the yard when you hit Vreeland Road.
One of the more interesting facets of railroading in the Detroit area is in
the Woodhaven area, where there are four sets of tracks coming into town,
all parallel to each other, and within 200 feet of each other. During
the vintage years of the 40's, 50's and 60's, this must have been an
exciting time - Think of how many trains each railroad used to have, and the
variety of colors you would see - wow! I
imagine there were times when you couldn't get across the grade crossings
for 10's of minutes, at least. I would love to find some pictures from
this area, if anyone knows of any, maybe you could email me! :-) Thanks.
In 1904, the four railroads running thru here were the:
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton RR
Grand Trunk RR
Lake Shore & Michigan Southern RR
Michigan Central RR
Below West Rd, the tracks spread out, into 2 sets of two.
Between West and Visger Roads, it is a straight run of about 8.4 miles, except a
small bend at King Rd.
Visger Road is the south end NS's River Rouge Yard.
There are plenty of photo ops, as you have grade crossings at (starting on the north end):
-West Outer Dr- no, they go over
One of the tracks splits off, we now have 3 tracks going north from here
-Southfield St- nope, the tracks go over Southfield
St John St
Northline Rd/Ford Ave
-Eureka Rd- no, the railroads go over Eureka
This is at Visger Rd, where the parallel run "starts":
Between Harrison and King, there is a "huge" crossover between the two
Only know about this point because it shows up on the Wyandotte quadrangle
map. Does anyone know when it was removed?
It is so old, it doesn't even show up on the Open Railway map.
It was a Michigan Central branch, used to access a ferry going across the
river to Canada prior to the tunnel being built.
In looking at the 1904 map, and
aerial views, it's possible that they may have used the railroad
right-of-way as the original bridge for auto use over to the island when trains stopped
using it sometime after the 1910 opening of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
The swing span might even still be the original, but this is conjecture.
GPS Coordinates: 42.156043, -83.175117
This is an industrial siding into what looks like a small steel mill, the
line comes off the eastern most CN line.
Over the Huron River
GPS Coordinates: 42.099786, -83.295772
Interesting dual use bridge over the Huron River, it has a long section, and
a short section. It seems that the bridge is also part of a dam for an
old generating plant for Ford, supplying power to a light bulb plant that
was in operation from the 1924 until 1950. I can't quite tell yet,
from the sources I have come across, as to whether or not the railroad
bridge is actually physically part of the dam, or attached to the dam
structure. I wonder if the building is still set up as a generating
plant, and if so, would make an interesting tour!
I didn't notice many signals in the area when I was here, but in
sneaking around on Google Streetview I came across a few.
CN Colorlights - Van Horn Road
If we go by the date stamp on the Google Streetview (2018), the signal was upgraded
from a separate signal location for the NB and SB signal, one on each side
of Van Horn Rd, to a single location on the south side.
CN Colorlights - King Rd/Harrison Ave Crossover
This "large" crossover is between the two outside sets of tracks,
crossing over the inside two sets of tracks, creating a complex array
of diamonds - five in total. All four tracks are signaled for the interlocking.
Colorlight Signals at Arsenal Rd / Flatrock
Here we have a high signal for trains going "north", and dwarf signals for
trains coming out of the yard heading "south".
EB CN Colorlight Signals at Allen Rd / Flatrock
CN Colorlight Dwarf at Van Horn Rd / Flatrock
It appears that this signal is a relative newcomer, being that it nor
the PTC equipment is not in the Bing aerial view. All three legs of
the junction are signaled, however, the two WB signals are single head
I included the Allen Rd grade crossing in here, because there is talk
about wanting to do a grade separation project by lowering the road,
and putting the railroad on a bridge over Allen Rd. Some work would
also be done to Van Horn Road, but lowering it too, does not seem to be part
of the project at this time.
Interesting Hi-Tension Pole
As I was looking around for signals, I came across this pole and thought it was
interesting because of the 90 degree takeoff to go into a small substation.
Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.