Canadian Pacific Railway's holiday trains are running again, and once again one of the two trains will pass through a slice of southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. But as in the past, it won't stop, and seeing it can require some patience.
If you have the time and the kids can stay up late, it could be worth it.
The two trains tour the CP system, making stops in towns along the way -- especially terminals where CP bases employees. One train takes a southerly route that includes a stop tonight in Windsor, Ont., before it crosses the border and goes to Illinois to start covering CP routes there and in neighboring states in the upper Midwest like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. During the stops, musicians on board play a half-hour show while donations are collected for local food banks.
While CP freight trains use Norfolk Southern tracks to travel between Detroit and Chicago, it has no tracks or terminals of its own in Michigan or Ohio where the holiday train could stop for a show, so it just rolls right through. But with lighted, animated Christmas decorations all over its engine and 14 cars, it's still a sight to see.
The route it uses passes through Milan, Britton, Adrian, and North Morenci, Mich., and Alvordton, Montpelier, and Blakeslee, Ohio. From the Toledo area, the easiest place to go to see it is Milan, right off U.S. 23. Just exit at Plank Road and head west toward town and the first tracks you cross is where it will go.
The challenge: because there are no scheduled stops in the area, the train is not on a hard schedule, and there's also an uncertainty factor introduced by its need to clear Customs in Detroit before continuing west after its show this evening in Windsor. But in past years, the train has shown up in Milan, which by rail is about 35 miles west of Detroit, around 9 p.m. And if you see train buffs around with cameras when you get there, you can be fairly confident you haven't missed it. In fact, they'll probably be able to give you a fresh estimate for when it will show up.
It's virtually certain to be going much faster than it was when it crossed the Grand River at Cambridge, Ont., just after sunset Monday: