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Posts Tagged ‘railroad yard’

Rail road tracks run close to  Kronk Street

Railroad tracks run close to Kronk Street

John Kronk Street is an industrial lined street in southwest Detroit. It runs about two miles, from Livernois Avenue on the east to the Dearborn city limits on the west. It’s a wide street that bumps up to some of the largest railroad yards in the city. The massive yards seem to be a major hub for freight trains with at least ten sets of tracks spread across acres of dark soil. Beyond the tracks, looking south toward the Detroit River, are piles of what appears to be gravel or coal stacked a few stories tall like large ant hills found in a field.

Toward the western end of the street are a series of black overhead train tracks that cross Kronk. They rest on thick steel trestles that are supported by brawny cement pillars. The tracks feed directly into the railroad yard and the heavy industrial complexes found near that end of the street.

An old steel rail road bridge spans Kronk St.

An old steel railroad bridge spans the street

Approaching the west end of Kronk (near the Dearborn border) on my recent bicycle ride, I noticed a very cool 1920’s vintage RR building on the north side of the street. At one time it could have been a small passenger station or ticket office for trains heading out of Detroit. Despite a little graffiti, it looks to be in remarkably good shape and well maintained.

Vintage brick building that may have been a ticket office at one time

Vintage brick building that may have been a ticket office

Also on the north side of Kronk are a series of truck terminals, used auto parts sellers and numerous junk yards. The large truck terminals I passed had hundreds of semi-truck trailers backed into loading docks and lined up along a chain linked fence that faced Kronk. The trailers were packed in like cereal boxes on a supermarket shelf, with little space between them.

Semi truck trailers packed into a terminal lot

Truck trailers packed into a terminal lot

There are also large manufacturing facilities on that side of the street that include a ferrous metal processing plant, a brick manufacturer and other miscellaneous small manufacturing facilities. Noticeably absent were party stores, restaurants, and other small businesses of this type.

One of many industrial plants along the street

One of many industrial plants along the street

This diner looked like it has been closed for many years

This diner looked like it’s been closed for years

Like many streets and neighborhoods in Detroit where I’ve ridden my bicycle, Kronk is a street of contrast. At the east end, off in the distance, are the gleaming towers of the Renaissance Center and other tall buildings of Downtown Detroit. At the other end, to the west, are the dark, coal colored steel plants of Zug Island and the Ford Rouge plant.

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In case you missed it, this past Saturday was a good day to be out bicycling in Detroit. The roads and streets were dry. Snow and ice were long gone, and traffic was light. Best of all, it was near 60 degrees!  Temperatures that warm are quite unusual in Detroit for the second weekend in January, so why not take advantage of it and spend time checking out the city on a bicycle? That’s exactly what I did.

My leisurely ride began near the Historic Woodbridge neighborhood at the corner of West Warren Avenue and Trumbull Street, where I rode west on Warren to the Dearborn city limit. That is a distance of about 4-miles.  The Woodbridge District has hundreds of late 1800s and early 1900s Victorian homes, and most have been restored. The compact historic community is about four blocks wide, beginning at Trumbull, spreading west to Grand River Avenue. Beyond that, there isn’t much residential property along West Warren.

Woodbridge neighborhood near Trumbull St. and West Warren Ave.

Woodbridge neighborhood near Trumbull St. and West Warren Ave.

Typical of the many major commercial streets I’ve bicycled on in Detroit, there is plenty of open land along West Warren. The landscape out there is peppered with colorful painted buildings that house a variety of businesses. They include such places as auto repair shops, hand car washes, small Coney island restaurants and various bar-b-que joints. There is also a fair amount of vacant buildings along the avenue.

Well kept, busy laundromat on West Warren

Well kept, busy laundromat on West Warren

Colorful Mr Fit It housed in a beautiful art deco building

Colorful Mr Fit It housed in a beautiful art deco era building

Take note of the signature along the bottom

Note of the signature along the bottom

This little place sells it all

This little place sells it all

Crossing in Dearborn at Wyoming Ave. was like entering a new world. There I was greeted with a bunch of fast food chains, banks, and small bustling strip centers housing national retail stores. Quite a contrast to what I saw along West Warren in Detroit.

From Dearborn I rode south on Central Avenue to John Kronk Street. Central is a tight, narrow street in Southwest Detroit that is lined with old frame homes. Riding along that well-worn street, I saw plenty of people outside taking advantage of the high temps by cleaning up their yards, enjoying cold beers and a neighborly conversation on their front porches, or working on their cars  in the street. At John Kronk I headed east along the street. That section of John Kronk hugs an expansive rail road yard that lines the road. The yard was packed solid with hundreds of freight cars. Some were moving slowly and banging into each other as massive engines pushed them slowly along.

Rail yard along John Kronk

Rail yard along John Kronk

From Kronk, I cut over to West Vernor Highway, a street that runs through the heart of the City’s active Mexican community.  I pedaled east on Vernor to the abandoned Michigan Central Train Station, and from there I took a quick loop through Detroit’s oldest neighborhood – Corktown. I eventually ended up in downtown Detroit where I saw many bicyclists and people out meandering along, savoring the warmth. Even the skaters at the Campus Martius rink were enjoying the exceptional warm weather while skating without their heavy winter garb.

Warm January days don’t happen often in Detroit.  When they do, it’s always a bonus to get out and rack up a few miles on a bicycle.

Remember, you can click on any picture to view them larger.

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