Detroit and Illinois Eastern Railway - An Introduction

Detroit and Illinois Eastern Railway - An Introduction

The Detroit and Illinois Eastern Railway is a fictional, high-traffic rail line connecting Detroit and Chicago. Dreamt up in my high school days, I spent little time worrying about acronyms or reporting marks and simply went full-bore into developing logos, paint schemes, and slogans. Once decals were printed and cars lettered, it was too late to change the regrettable initials, so "The Motor City Line" has simply run with them ever since.

DTIE GP40 Drawing 

This colored pencil sketch of a weatherbeaten GP40 from 2003 was one of the earliest visualizations of the DTIE black, yellow, and red diesel paint scheme.

Motor City Line Posters

The above serigraph posters from 2016 emphasize the two main connection points of the Detroit and Illinois Eastern, highlighted by an aggressively-angled rendition of an SD70ACe.


Modern diesel models have been painted in the DTIE black and yellow scheme, including this Walthers ES44AC that was featured in an advertisement for Smokebox Graphics' diesel data decals.

A Collection of D&IE Rolling Stock

Most of the Detroit and Illinois Eastern rolling stock fleet is set in the 1955 time period. The 3-bay AAR hopper car in this image (this example being a re-detailed Accurail car) was the basis for our Smokebox Exclusive RTR cars.

DTIE Maintenance of Way Trucks

The bold black and yellow colors have also been applied to maintenance of way vehicles in multiple scales. Having these creative outlets is one of the perks of freelance modeling!


DTIE rolling stock has been used to highlight various Smokebox decal products, including on this HO Scale Tangent coal hopper in MOW service.

In addition to the prototypical GTW coal hoppers in our first Smokebox Exclusive rolling stock run, we had BLI produce two numbers of Detroit and Illinois Eastern - The Motor City Line AAR 70-ton coal hoppers.

The Motor City Line Hoppers

These RTR cars reflect a car built in 1946 and reweighed/repacked in 1954. They feature the bold white/red/black circular D&IE herald and "The Motor City Line" slogan and would be at home on any '50s era freelance layout moving coal or gravel to or from the Great Lakes region.

Find out more about these cars and our other exclusives here.

Thanks for taking a look at The Motor City Line!

- Stephen Wilder

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