Ken Verrell started working for the Pere Marquette Railroad in September of 1941 as an apprentice machinist. He became a licensed machinist four years later.
He continued to work in the roundhouse on Wilson Ave. in St. Thomas but was laid off in November of 1959. The following month he began working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in London, where he remained for 11 years. In 1970, he returned to the Pere Marquette, which was by then the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, until his retirement. He was the last C&O employee at the St. Thomas facility.
Ken was chairman of the Machinists Union for ten years, organizer of the C&O annual golf tournament, captain of the Pere Marquette baseball team and one of the founding members of the Elgin County Railway Museum, where he was the volunteer acquisitions manager for 20 years. Ken also volunteered for the “Day out with Thomas” event, a prime fund raiser for the Elgin County Railway Museum, and a major means of connecting children with rail history.
One of Ken’s greatest pleasures after retirement was bringing locomotive 5701 (renumbered 5700) to St. Thomas, along with Bill Turvey. Ken was also on the board of On Track, a St. Thomas based rail tourism promotional body and served on the committee for the St. Thomas Railway Theme Murals, one of On Track’s projects. He was also involved with promoting public ownership and access to the Scott-Sefton photo collection and its use as editor in two books – “Harvest of Memories” and “The Scott-Sefton Collection: Elgin’s History Through a Photographer’s Lens.” This studio was a prime documenter of St. Thomas-Elgin railway history.