This Little-Known Line Is Most Profitable, Published 3 June 1950Nobody I met had ever heard of the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line. Yet it has been in existence for almost 50 years, it is one of the most profitable railways in United States, and not less than 100,000 people see it daily. Briefly, the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line is an all-freight line which runs between Detroit and Toledo and is visible to the millions of motorists who annually travel Highways 24 and 25 between the Motor City and the home of Mud Hens. But this, strangest of all the people of Ottawa own a piece of the D & TSL.
Deloit, Toledo and South Shore and Toledo, Angola and Western Railroads
A railway line of fabulous profits, with air foam cabooses and diesel switches (sic) fancy enough to be designed by Sciaparelli, the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line was my 145th railway. The more you hear about it, the more unusual the railway sounds. It gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say if she could come back from Wonderland.
The D & TSL is jointly owned by the Grand Trunk Western and the Nickel Plate. The latter is an American railway which cost so much to build originally, that a chance remark indicated it must be built of nickel plate. The name struck, though actually the railway is called the New York, Chicago and St. Louis. The Grand Trunk Western, of course, is our own Canadian National, but given another name so as not to offend the susceptibilities of thin-skinned Americans. C. A. Skog is its president. He is also Vice President of the Grand Trunk Western. You can thus see that this is, in the ultimate a Canadian government project, and so, as taxpayers we Ottawa people are also shareholders.
The D & TSL cuts through the rich freight area between Toledo and Detroit. If every line controlled by the Canadian National were as profitable, our railway worries would be over. It had an operational ratio of 53 percent this winter, and it has more than once actually had an operating ratio of 49 percent or less. That would mean it was making more than 50 percent profit, in a rough sense.
The Shore Line was originally designed as an electric line, but before it was finished, it was converted to steam. In its 47 years' existence, it has never carried a passenger. But it has always been long in dividends. It paid its first dividend in 1908 and has never missed since. Touching the great freight terminus of Toledo, it handles lucrative cargoes north from Toledo. Let me put you straight on Toledo it is one of the biggest railway centers in United States. More different railways go into it than enter New York City. But if Toledo brings revenue, think what Detroit produces. It brings out freight loads that are a bond holder's dream, that are a yardmaster's nightmare.
So the other day, Ernest Ray, general manager, led me out to Lang, in Toledo's suburbs, which is the southern terminus of the Shore Line. With me were also Mr. Walton, superintendent of motive power and equipment: and E. O. Dunn, superintendent who doubled as our chauffeur, You can imagine my surprise when I saw the Shore Line's diesels. They were a canary yellow and pastel blue. No wonder I asked: "Were they designed by Schaparelll?" Mr. Walton, recently moved from Battle Creek, also has done a fancy paint job on the interior of the diesel roundhouse, and plans glass brick wails. He has even had the windows cleaned, an unpardonable sin to old railroaders. I got in behind Engine No. 22, a 2-8-2 type that can handle a pretty heavy load. But you can imagine my surprise when I boarded this new caboose and found it had a picture window at the back, in front of a fancy desk. It contained a slick all-white ice box. It had a real sink with real taps. Far from the traditional dingy crummy, it might have been out of "Better Homes and Gardens." The caboose was distinctly recherche.
The Shore Line gave me a quick ride over double track rock ballast to Munroe. We saw hundreds of cars alongside the track. Yet I was secure in the knowledge that if anybody one half hour later asked them if they knew the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line, one and all would say: "Never heard of It; Where's it run."
As a prelude to riding my 145th railway, I rode my 144th. This was the Toledo, Angola and Western. This must not be confused with the Toledo, Peoria, and Western, whose mail often gets mixed with the Toledo Angola and Western. Again while the Toledo Angola and is, in the ultimate a Canadian then neither does the Toledo Peoria and Western ever get to Toledo.
Back Up Mile
The TA & W has only one train, and with W. Ohlemacher, in charge of the chase, we went looking for it by car. We finally were dodging down streets in the perimeter of Toledo, looking for it. Unhappily, when we did sight it, it was moving away. By the time Mr. Ohlemacher caught the conductor's eye, the train was half a mile away. By the time the conductor caught the engineer's eye, the train was a full mile away. But, believe it or not, the train backed up one mile for us, took us aboard, and resumed its interrupted Journey. At something less than a mile a minute, we went from Vulcan to Hickok, a distance of 3.5 miles, behind diesel number 101. This in fact is the TA & W's only, engine.
Then our chauffeur, Mr. Dunn got lost, and we enjoyed the idyllic delights of Toledo's suburbs till he rescued us. The Angola, to give it its short title, runs from Vulcan to Silica, a distance of 10.5 miles. Its main customer is a cement firm, but it picks up the odd penny from oil companies. Now 100 percent diesel (one engine being its whole power fleet) it operates placidly through the flat fields of Western Ohio, making modest profits, and operating with shrinking violet tendencies.