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Railroad:  Detroit, Delray and Dearborn R.R.

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According to Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies, the Detroit, Delray & Dearborn Railroad Company was incorporated on September 17, 1895 and was controlled at its incorporation by the Michigan Central Railroad.  The initial route of the line was completed between Delray and Dearborn on October 5th of the same year.

The railroad filed drawings with the Michigan Railroad Commission on September 5, 1895 proposing to build their line from the village of Delray to the village of Dearborn.  At that time, the City of Detroit was just reaching the town of Delray.  Dearborn was just a village in what is now West Dearborn.  It appears that the DD&D was a corporation created to build the railroad so that MCRR traffic could be routed from it's eastbound main line southeast to the Delray area, bypassing MCRR yards near West Detroit.

The drawings indicate that the first proposed route started at the Flint and Pere Marquette line just north of what is now Delray Tower.  The proposed route then crossed the Rouge River via its own bridge, and then curved slightly south to parallel the Wabash near what is currently the Ecorse Junction interlocker.  The route then turned northwest following a mostly tanget track which paralleled the Rouge River (to the north) and what is now Oakwood Blvd. (to the south) all the way to the Village of Dearborn.  A simple one switch junction was called for with the eastbound MCRR main line near what is now Brady Street.  The DD&D line was built through property (probably farm land) which later became Ford Airport and then the Ford Motor Company Dearborn test track.  We suspect that the track was removed by the time the airport was constructed, or before 1920.

Within eight years (1903), drawings with the Commission showed that the plan to begin the DD&D at the Pere Marquette either did not happen, or was abandoned.  Instead, the DD&D started at a junction of the Wabash Railroad (at the Oakwood Telegraph Office, west of what is now Oakwood Junction), and from there northwest to Dearborn.

 

In 1903, the railroad proposed to connect the DD&D with the Michigan Central Detroit to Toledo main line, by extending it farther east along the Wabash, crossing it at a new crossing (now Oakwood Junction), and then east along the south side of the Rouge River to a junction with the MCRR at Pleasant Street (now known as CP-YD).  The current CN line (former Detroit and Toledo Shore Line) was not yet in place.  During this period, the MCRR was a single or double track through the Pleasant Street area, and ran parallel to the single track Lake Shore and Michigan Southern route (which later became the SB NYC Detroit-Toledo main line).  The DD&D had to cross the LSMS at grade, and then connected with the MCRR main track.

During 1912 (approximately), the MCRR installed what is now the Junction Yard branch.  This branch left the original DD&D branch just north of Oakwood Junction, going straight north along the west side of what is now the Ford Motor Rouge Plant.  The Junction Yard branch was first connected to Junction Yard, along the MCRR Detroit-Chicago main line near Wyoming Avenue.  At some later point, a wye track was put in to the northwest connecting at what is now CP-Townline (Greenfield Road).

We assume that after the wye to Townline was installed, the DD&D connection in the Village of Dearborn was abandoned, and the DD&D branch cut back.  MCRR traffic from the west going to Delray, River Rouge and Toledo began running over the wye from Townlilne and down the Junction Yard Branch.

Other enhancements to the Junction Yard Branch/DD&D included double tracking (date unknown), a second wye track to both Townline (called the "new" wye) and Junction Yard, and a 1/4 mile industrial lead from the DD&D to a rendering plant just east of Greenfield Road. 

In 1924, the Detroit and Ironton Railroad Company was built from the Ford Rouge Complex to Flat Rock, crossing the Junction Yard branch at Schaffer Tower (at Schaffer Road).  An ABS signaling system was also installed on the route, ending at Schaffer Tower at some point.

When Townline Junction was closed and automated in the 1970's, a NB approach signal was installed at the entrance to the New Wye, just north of Rotunda Drive at the junction splitting the New Wye from the route to Junction Yard.  This signal still exists today, and is the approach signal for the CP-Townline interlocker.

Interlockers also were installed at Oakwood Junction (controlled by the NS Bridge operator, Shore Line (controlled by the NS Bridge operator), and at CP-YD (controlled by the NS (CR) dispatcher.

The DD&D branch was cut back in segments, and finally eliminated northwest of the switch with the Junction Yard branch.  The  line was single tracked at an unknown date.

As of today, Schaffer Tower is manned Monday through Friday, during the day.  NS runs about two trains a day on the branch, servicing the Ford Rouge plant.  The Junction Yard branch remains a vital line because it is NS' back up line in case something were to disable the two NS Rouge River drawbridges.  The line is also used to route traffic from the Toledo to Elkhart (LSMS) line during derailments.  Reroute traffic comes up from Toledo, goes NB on the Junction Yard Branch, and then through the New Wye to CP-Townline and westbound to Kalamzoo and Elkhart.

Unanswered Questions...

1.  What was the original purpose of the DD&D branch?

2. Did the DD&D ever build across the Rouge River to the F&PM?

3.  Did the DD&D have trackage rights over the Wabash from Oakwood Telegraph Office to some point in Delray?

4.  Why didn't the MCRR connect the line earlier to their line at CP-YD?

5.  Did the DD&D ever have a logo?

6. Did the DD&D ever have its own locomotives or rolling stock?

7.  What yard serviced the DD&D and it's trains and engines?

 

If you have answers, click on Answers and send them to us.

 


Significant Dates By Year

1895. On September 5, 1895, the DD&D proposed to the Michigan Railroad Commission to build their line from near Delray to what is now west Dearborn. The route was to begin at the Flint and Pere Marquette line (near Forman Wye), run through the Michigan Carbon Works (along the Rouge River), cross the Rouge River, parallel the Wabash tracks for a short distance and then branch off to the west (at a location just south of the current Oakwood Junction). The line generally paralled Dearborn Road through Ecorse and Dearborn Townships to Dearborn (now west Dearborn). There it joined the Michigan Central tracks with a normal junction switch.

The DD&D was constructed on Michigan Central Railroad-owned property south of the Flint and Pere Marquette.

At Dearborn, the DD&D junction with the main line was mile east of "Dearborn" station. The map shows a side track on the south side of the MCRR leaving the main line just west of the DD&D junction switch. The DD&D junction appears to be in the midst of a slight curve in the MCRR main line, most probably somewhere near the current Brady Street.

This map shows several interesting things. It shows that the Michigan Central Railroad route from Delray to Toledo was double tracked at this location (in addition to the parallel Lake Shore and Michigan Southern. The Flint and Pere Marquette main line through Delray was completely double tracked, but the Wabash was a single track route.

The map shows a Wabash "old line" which paralleled the LS&MS farther south (through the current cement company property before meeting the new, current line west of the Rouge River. Apparently a new bridge was installed at some point prior to 1895.

The Michigan Central Railroad Chicago main line was double tracked at this time according to the map.

1903. According to maps filed with the Michigan Railroad Commission, the DD&D Railroad originally ran from a location called Oakwood Junction on the double track Wabash main line, where it crossed Fort Street (now an overpass). On April 11, 1903, the DD&D filed a request with the Commission to extend the railroad from Oakwood Telegraph station to the TCS&D Railroad (later Michigan Central) at what is now known as "CP-YD" at Pleasant Street. The new route started at the old DD&D Oakwood Junction, paralleled the Wabash northeast, and then crossed it (at the current day Oakwood Junction) and then followed the existing route to CP-YD.

At CP-YD, the DD&D crossed the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern at grade, and then connected with the TCS&D with a junction switch. The route crossed one river called the "Dredge Cut". The Detroit, Toledo Shore Line did not exist at this time. MSA.

1935:  According to the Michigan Central Detroit Yard timetable No. 76, the DD&D end of track was at the DT&I railroad. The entire branch was within yard limits at this time.


Historical Information:

Mark Dobronski provided the following information which was compiled by historian Jim Harlow. 

Q.  WHEN WAS THE DD&D BRANCH TAKEN OUT AT WEST DEARBORN? 

  • I have an aerial photograph dated 1922 of the Ford Airport (now the Ford Proving Ground along Oakwood Blvd. and Rotunda Dr.) taken by the official photographer of the Ford Motor Co. showing dirt runways extended across the roadbed of the DD&D branch. 
  • Another aerial photograph I have dated and taken as above shows the wye at the junction of the DD&D and the MC mainline shows a full wye (both legs) fully intact with the DD&D track ending right about where the Henry Ford Museum now stands.
  • Answer is unknown, but prior to 1922.

Q.  WHAT SIDINGS/INDUSTRIES WERE SERVED BY THE DD&D BRANCH? 

  • Apparently hardly any.  Stations on the line were "Toole's Woods" (no sidetrack) and "Heal's Sand Track" [sic] (possible sidetrack).  It appears "Heal's Sand Track" may have been right around where Darling & Co. (or "Darling's") later located their animal rendering facility on Greenfield Rd., per a 1922 MCRR "Conductor's List of Stations" I have.

 

Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.