The Perry Johnson Collection

The images on this page are from the collection of Perry Johnson of Elyria, Ohio. Many thanks go to him and his daughter Judy for providing me with this excellent vintage material for my site.

Perry Frank Johnson first watched trains in second grade, when he lived along the Nickel Plate in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When he was a bit older, he hiked out to see trains on the Nickel Plate, the Pennsylvania, and the Wabash lines. He also made up railroad games, figuring out how to go from one town to another using public and private time tables.

He got a camera at the end of World War II, and moved to Michigan City, Indiana. There he had a darkroom at the YMCA where he worked, and he began to photograph trains. He has many 5 x 7 black and white prints from this period. The photographs shifted to Ohio railroads when he moved to Elyria in 1948. Some were published in train magazines and books.

From 1961 until his retirement in 1984, he was Chief Naturalist at the Lorain County Metropolitan Park System.

The Sandy Ridge Reservation visiting center is named for him.

Note: All captions are by Mr. Johnson himself.


New York Central 0-6-0 6890 was completing a switching operation at Franklin St. in Michigan City, Indiana, when pictured. She had just moved onto the Monon track connection, picked up the mail car always spotted there for unloading during the night, hauled it all the way to Center St. where the crossovers are, and pushed it back on the westbound siding next of the westbound "main", where the car is loaded during the night for movement to Chicago. Loading is by the Railway Express Co. The picture was taken when the switcher stopped to uncouple just west of Franklin St.
1300 hours, 1 June 1947.

New York Central train No. 8, "The Wolverine", approaching the curve at Michigan St., Michigan City, Indiana, at 20 m.p.h. behind diesels 4012 and 4013.
1445 hours, 1 June 1947.

4-8-2 No. 2839 in the clear with a westbound freight at Center St., Michigan City, Indiana, for No. 75, "The Mercury". Conditions were excellent, but the focus missed just a little.
1550 hours, 1 June 1947.

NICKEL PLATE ROAD caboose No. 96 at the rear of DS-1, ready to leave the Michigan City, Indiana, yard. Cars on the left margin were in the N.Y.C. train behind 4-8-2 No. 2839 of the previous picture.
1552 hours, 1 June 1947.

Head end of DS-1 was being handled by 2-8-2 No. 669, NICKEL PLATE ROAD class H-6-F, with 44 cars between it and caboose No. 96. The picture was taken just after she had started the train moving out of the yard. The engine getting a tender full of coal in the background was No. 662, another H-6-F. Both were made in Lima in 1924.
Michigan City, Ind. 1601 hours, 1 June 1947.

In response to the green traffic light on their left, SOUTH SHORE LINE freight motor No. 1002 was starting her 23 car train across Franklin St., Michigan City, Ind. The second motor in the tandem was the 1013.
1650 hours, 2 June 1947.

SOUTH SHORE LINE train No. 30 consisted of units 104 and 37 when pictured this time. She was picking up speed after her station stop when the motorman noticed the late passenger trying to board her after the doors were closed. He stopped the train and the conductor or one of the trainment let him in. He was hanging on the side by then. No harm was done, but an accident could have occurred very easily.
1730 hours, 2 June 1947.

CHICAGO, INDIANAPOLIS, & LOUISVILLE J-1 No. 510, an ancient Mikado, was doing switching and yard work in Michigan City, Ind., during much of June. Here she is, stopped, just west of Franklin St.
1009 hours, 3 June 1947.

A minute later she presented this aspect from a wider angle. C.I.& L., Michigan City, Ind.
1010 hours, 3 June 1947.

Results from the same place, this time with the 616 Eastman focused at 60 ft., were much superior to the preceeding picture. Focusing seemed to be the only difference, though the shutter on the Zeiss-Ikon went bad a few days later and may have caused the inferior result. Both were taken on Verichrome film under identical light conditions. C.I.& L., Michigan City, Indiana.
1012 hours, 3 June 1947.

NEW YORK CENTRAL train No. 17, "The Wolverine", was powered by diesels 4001 and 4000. This action picture, focused a little short, was made at Franklin St., Michigan City Indiana, at about 20 m.p.h.
1015 hours, 3 June 1947.

Here was another excellent study of the C.I.& L. No. 510 from a 45 degree angle. Distracting foreground objects were no help. The water jug was from the engine. Other items were piled there to be picked up and carried away later.
Michigan City, Indiana. 1018 hours, 3 June 1947.

This was my first (and a very good "first" too) picture of PERE MARQUETTE diesels in action. The train, No. 6, was powered by units 102 and 105. The train stretches across Wabash St., Michigan City, Indiana, on the long curve that points westbound trains toward Porter, Indiana, 12 miles away. There P.M. Ry. iron ends. Chicago is reached by N.Y.C. and B.& O., the trains taking to the former road at Porter and the latter at Pine Junction, between East Chicago, Ind., and Gary, Ind. The train picks up a small pouch of mail from the crane daily, which pouch can be seen ready to go near the right margin of the picture. A bag of mail is also thrown off at Franklin St., one block farther east, from whence it is trucked to the U.S. Post Office.
1217 hours, 3 June 1947.

Rear view picture of CHICAGO, SOUTH SHORE, AND SOUTH BEND train No. 29, unit No. 20 bringing up the rear. Made at the Pleasant Ave. crossing a short distance west of Shops, Michigan city, Indiana. The train was braking to a stop at the Nickel Plate R.R. crossing. Control unit was No. 19, followed by No. 14, 203, and, of course, 20.
1740 hours, 3 June 1947.

Only one angle was possible for this picture of C.S.S.& S.B. freight units 1011 and 1012, resting on the "ready" track at Shops on Michigan City's east side. Caboose on right margin was on caboose track. South Shore Line arch-bar-truck box car on the end of the "ready" track was serving as a storage place for company supplies.
1745 hours, 3 June 1947.

Car No. 101, C.S.S. & S.B. passenger unit, was the only regularly used car on the storage track at Shops, Michigan City, Indiana; and, be assured, she wasn't there very long.
1748 hours, 3 June 1947.

Resplendant in new paint was freight motor No. 1007, pictured at 80 feet on a storage track at Shops Building on left margin is chief service building for electric passenger and freight units. Overhead girder for trolly wires in right background indicates passenger tracks and freight yard approaches.
1750 hours, 3 June 1947.

Diesels No. 106 and 104 had PERE MARQUETTE RY. train No. 8 moving at about 50 m.p.h. when they were pictured on the bridge that carries the railroad over the Indianapolis-Michigan City portion of the L.E. & W. District of the Nickel Plate Road and Trail Creek south-east of Michigan City, Ind., just out of the city limits.
1820 hours, 3 June 1947.

The sun was sinking behind the tree tops when the camera caught PERE MARQUETTE RY. train No. 5 speeding westward behind diesel units No. 105 and 102 near Greenwood Avenue in the south-east side of Michigan City. Speed had not yet been cut for the trip through the city enough to notice. The train was moving at least 50 m.p.h. Note that the head-light is on.
1845 hours, 3 June 1947.


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February, 1942

March, 1942

April, 1942

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