Shelby's Historic Train Display

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Shelby Township Historical Committee

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                     The Locomotive

                     

                          

Singer 

1920 ALCO (Cooke) 0-4-0T

The steam locomotive on display at the Shelby Township Municipal Grounds was built in 1920 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) at their Cooke Works facility in Paterson, New Jersey.  It was originally built as an 0-4-0T switcher. 

The ‘0-4-0’ designation means that the engine only had four driving wheels in the middle and had no front pilot wheels or rear trailing wheels.  The letter ‘T’ indicates that the locomotive once had a saddle water tank that was draped over the top of the engine.  In its original configuration, the locomotive looked much like Percy the Small Engine in the children’s animated Thomas and Friends television series.

This locomotive switcher was built for the Singer Manufacturing Company in New Jersey and was used to move cars around at their facility. Singer eventually moved the locomotive to their facility in Quebec, Canada.  In the 1960s, the engine was sold to the Government of Ontario and then changed hands a few more times before it eventually reached Michigan.



The Caboose
Pere Marquette Railroad Caboose #A557

The caboose on display at the Shelby Township Municipal Grounds was used by the Pere Marquette Railroad for several decades.  The exact construction date of the caboose is not known, but the caboose was in service until 1965.

The caboose was used as part of the Pere Marquette Railroad’s weighmaster train and served as the weighmaster’s office. This caboose traveled extensively across the Pere Marquette system, where a scale test car on the train was responsible for testing and calibrating scales in the railroad freight yards.

Train Display in Washington Twp.

In the 1960s, businessman and railroad enthusiast Bob Owen purchased the former Grand Trunk Railroad depot in Washington, MI and had it moved a couple miles northeast to a location on Van Dyke Rd. just north of 29 Mile Rd.  He used the former depot to operate his sign shop.

At some point in the mid to late 1960s, Mr. Owen purchased a locomotive, coal tender, caboose, and an interurban passenger car to make up a train display outside his sign shop.

When putting together the train display, Mr. Owen apparently altered the appearance of the original 0-4-0T switcher locomotive to make it look like a much older (and somewhat more pleasing) vintage steam locomotive.  Included in these alterations was the construction of a wooden cab, headlight box, cow catcher, sheet metal diamond stack, and two sets of wheels placed under the locomotive to make it look like a 2-4-2 locomotive. The coal tender was also added to the display.  The original switcher locomotive did not use a separate tender car.

The locomotive, tender and caboose were moved to the Shelby Township Municipal Grounds in 1977. The interurban passenger car reportedly went to the Michigan Transit Museum collection in Mount Clemens.  The former Washington Grand Trunk depot that was used by Mr. Owen for his sign shop is now a convenience store.



Relocation to
Shelby Township

Shelby-Utica Recycling Center Director Marietta Crabtree was instrumental in getting the locomotive and tender moved to the Shelby Township Municipal Grounds in 1977.  When she discovered that Mr. Owen planned to sell the train, her company agreed to fund the purchase and relocation of the locomotive and tender.  The Shelby Township Lions Club was involved with the relocation and restoration of the caboose.

After the locomotive and tender were moved, they were re-painted and the black paint covered many of the details and lettering that had previously been in place.  Likewise, the caboose was covered with new wood siding and red paint.  During this process a few items were removed from the caboose such as the ladders and brake wheel.  Also, the side hand rails were placed upside down when they were put back onto the caboose.
 

1869?

On each side of the locomotive cab there are signs with the year 1869.  These signs were most likely placed on the train by Mr. Owen.  This year was significant for two reasons.  1869 was the year that the Michigan Air Line Railroad first came to Shelby and Washington Townships.  This was also the same year that the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the U.S. when the final golden spike was put in place at Promontory Summit, Utah.