Dewi's Trains,
Trams & Trolleys

Around America by train:
Chicago to Toronto

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The International

Up at 6:30 and re-packed suitcases as his and hers. Had coffee and buns and cookies for breakfast, and while doing a last check around the room, I looked out across Grant Park, and there was a train going by, clearly marked "Chicago and South Shore". So there are trains, but I never did find the stations - if they are not a myth. We checked out and crossed S. Michigan Avenue to the bus stop. A route 1 bus arrived as we did, so we boarded, and arrived ridiculously early at Union Station - roads much clearer than during afternoon rush hour - but this gave us time to look around and buy a sub, plus chips & Kit-Kat for lunch.

Boarding is a two-stage process in Chicago: you wait in the main lounge, then you're moved to the boarding lounge for a particular train, and then you board. When the train left Union Station, I was amused to find that I'd been close to the route on my rides on the El. And after some miles, we were running alongside that same South Shore line that I'd been trying to find in Chicago.

The first station was nearly three hours later, in Michigan. After that, stops were fairly frequent until Port Huron. There is a new tunnel from here under the St. Clair river, to Sarnia, Ontario. But the train heads along the old track as though to enter the old abandoned tunnel, and stops at the end of the track at the US Immigration post - a shed - and waits. Then it backs up, switches to the new route, and goes through the tunnel. Is this bizarre process to prevent people from stealing a locomotive in Michigan and steaming straight through the tunnel into Canada? or is it that the Immigration people don't want to move their shack? I don't know. Once into Canada though we stopped at Sarnia station, a sold, red-brick sort of place, for Canada Customs and Immigration, who were wearing flak jackets even for the on-board inspection.

It only took a few minutes but we had to wait until our scheduled departure time. We took off at a good speed. This route has mileposts and I was able to clock us at about 85mph. Most of the remaining journey to Toronto was after dark: we did wonder why an international train would stop at the metropolis of St. Mary's.

Note: The International is no longer in operation.


On arrival, we went down the escalator to a long corridor decorated in public-washroom style: chipped white tiles. There were holes in the wall though through which we could see new, modern, facilities. Would we be able to use those on our departure?

To get to our friends' house we took the subway: Eufron already had a couple of tokens so we didn't waste time. I had wanted to take a picture out of the last car of the train, which had a window at the end of the car. But that seat was occupied by a couple in a rather heavy embrace, and as the man had bare, tattooed, brawny, hairy arms, I felt it might not be wise to approach them at 11:30pm with a camera in my hands.

Our friends met us and we did indeed have the long chats and gossip we'd been expecting.

Click on thumbnail for larger picture.

image 1072_17
The International, on the Immigration dept. track at Port Huron, Michigan
Photo 1072_17 on 19/04/2002
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The International, on the Immigration dept. track at Port Huron, Michigan. End of steel at right.
Photo 1072_18 on 19/04/2002
image 1072_19
Sarnia, Ont. station: rings from tunnel lining of old (on left) and new tunnels under St. Clair river.
Photo 1072_19 on 19/04/2002

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This page last updated on 23/04/2006 8:48:30.