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Armchair Brakeman
About Me

My name is Thomas Binkowski and I live with my wife Peggy in Ferndale Michigan, a northern suburb of the sprawling city of Detroit. I worked for 25 years in the automobile industry and retired five years ago from the Chrysler Corporation as a Process Engineer.

My interest in trains goes back to some of my first memories of staying with my grandmother in the small city of Dunkirk, New York. Her wood frame house was planted right smack dab across the street from a factory.  All day long I could hear the creaking and clanking of the old freight trains coming and going and I snuck away to watch them as much as I could.   

To the detriment of my Latin studies in high school, I much preferred the bustling flurry of activity at the Michigan Central Depot to the hushed tones of the classroom. Michigan Central was about two miles southwest of downtown Detroit, and just a quick streetcar ride from the East side of the city where I lived. In the mid-to-late 1940s sleek passenger trains would roar into the station every hour and from my perch overlooking the tracks, I would be mesmerized by the sights, sounds, and even smells of the trains as they came and departed to far off destinations.      

During my career with Chrysler, I traveling a lot around the country and a fair amount outside the United States. Where ever I would go, Newark, Delaware or Stuttgart, Germany, I would always find myself in the local train station watching the trains come and go and checking out the schedules. I guess things hadn’t changed much since high school, though now, more and more, I was a passenger and not simply a spectator.

After I retired, I found myself doing more traveling and most of it was by train. I learned much about the various regional trains that criss-cross the United States and Canada, taking travelers to places the national railroads could not go. I even came to love Amtrak (the national passenger rail service in the U.S.) and VIA Rail (the Canadian equivalent) and the wildly diverse destinations and trips that both can offer. 

Traveling with my wife Peggy has taught me to appreciate the finer aspects of train travel – while I would be happy hopping the back of a cold freight train, she demands a certain level of comfort. There is nothing better than sharing a long train ride with a loved one by your side (or above you in a cabin, as my wife prefers).

My fascination with train travel has never been about getting from one place to the next. It has always been the “getting there” part of a trip that has been much more gratifying for me.     




Tom and Peg Binkowski
Tom and Peg Binkowski

Detroit train yards

Tom at Churchill
Tom on the buggy in Churchill