RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.

 

Todd's Railfan Guide to:
ANN ARBOR MI
 

In General
Getting Here
Map
Sights
Signals
Floobydust
 

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In General

Ann Arbor's biggest attraction is probably the University of Michigan and all of it's night life, even during the summer as we saw when driving thru town to get to the interstate.  Well, if you didn't come here for that, I guess you'll just have to settle for the two depots on the north side of town, Amtrak and an ex Michigan Central.  The old MC depot is beautiful, as evidenced by the photos, and the food is top notch.  Please support these establishments as you tour the rail community, you could make the difference between them staying around or not, like the depot in Berea OH which recently closed.

  There's an interchange track between the two lines, which looks like it hasn't seen any activity for many, many years. 

Many thanks to Jon Baxter for information about Osmer Siding, where the Ann Arbor interchanges with the Great Lakes Central RR.  He is active with putting videos on Youtube, and you can find his "homepage" here: https://www.youtube.com/user/criind .  He also has a fondness for "live steam" (1/8 scale, AKA as 7-1/2" gauge (7-1/4" on the west coast).

Aerial shots were taken from www.bing.com/maps , most other maps and streetviews come from Google.

The snap-shots off of Bing are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!  Give it a try!

My RSUS philosophy:  Pictures (oh yea, my maps too) are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps (or a GPS).  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and consise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.


Getting Here

Getting to Ann Arbor is not too difficult, but there are as many ways to get to the depot as there are directions to come from:

1) From the south, you can come up US23 from the Toledo area, which is also another east/west funnel via I80, although getting between the two is tedious because of the lack of a direct interchange.  If coming up from Toledo, exit 37 would probably be the best... Washtenaw Ave.  Take the street into town, paying attention to stay on it as it bears a right and then a left.  Finally hang a right onto Main street, and then another right onto Depot Street.

2) From the Detroit area, it's straight out I94 or I96.  If doing the I94 thing, take exit 180 to get on US23 going north, to exit 37.  If coming out on I96, look for the US23 exit going south, and take the Plymouth Road exit, exit 41.

3) From the west side of the state via I94 (Battle Creek, Kalamazoo), take exit 172, Business 94 into the center of town to Main Street, and then go north a hair to Depot St.

4) From Grand Rapids or Lansing, take I96 east, and then go south on US23 at Brighton to MI14 at exit 45.  Take the Main St exit, exit 3, and go south till you pass under the railroad, and Depot Street is the next left at the light.

5) From northern Michigan, on the east side, come down US23 from the Flint area where US23 and I75 join (or split up, depending on which way you are going.)  Then follow the second half of the directions from 4).

Food, restaurants, and gas..... The map above shows where the main places to find these things.


Map


The above map in PDF format is here


Sights


   The Amtrak Station

The WB Wolverine was caught around 7:40am, heading to Chicago.  The group of three were caught around the corner from the depot adjacent to the observation car.  The two other WB's are slated for 12:29pm and 7:17pm.  The EB's coming thru Ann Arbor are scheduled for 1:04pm, 5:45pm, and 11:32pm.

           

                                     


   The Michigan Central Depot - now the Gandy Dancer Restaurant

The food here is most excellent, the service is excellent too.  I've eaten here twice for dinner, and have not been disappointed on either occasion.  It is a worthwhile stop if you are travelling thru the area.  The owners also own the train station restaurant in Pittsburgh that is along the water, and the menus look identical.  Pictures were taken July 2009, except for the three on the bottom right, taken Sep 2010.

                 

                       


   Observation Car

   Unknown building with observation car on siding..... Don't know the history on it, but the reporting mark is ARTX105.  I was there, and still not sure what the building is used for, but it is a recent build, maybe 20-30 years old.  The car has a banner promoting the North American Railway Foundation, saluting railroad labor, and also has a logo for Artrain USA on the front end of the car.  If this is car number 5, and an observation car which goes on the end, anyone know where the other four are???

           
     
Above: the building that looks like an old depot, switch and equipment cabinet, and a platform where good shots can be had.


   Coal Tipple

I have to give the owners of this building kudos for retaining this small piece of history, and using an old Detroit & Mackinac hopper to put on display... the 201 Depot on the car is the address of the building on Depot St, which is also the street where the Amtrak station and the Gandy Dancer restaurant are located.

       


   Bridge

I don't know how often trains cross the water here, but I'm sure if you know ahead of time when they are supposed to come, and you have a bit of patience, great shots can be had from the jogging path on the small dam located next to the bridge.  I took a lot of detail shots in case someone out there is interested in copying the design, which from ground level, is most interesting!  Tetris anyone?

  

              The over the road part.....

      The over the water part.....

               

        A bunch of detail shots.

    The flood control dam with a jogging path / walkway going over it.... good for train shots.

 


   Osmer Siding

This is the northern end of Ann Arbor operations, and where it interchanges with the Great Lakes Central RR.
The pictures on the left of each pair are from the Joy Ave end of the siding (streetviews from 2009), the ones on the right are from Warren Rd (streetviews from 2011).
Joy Road appears to be a dirt road.

 

 

 



 Signals


   Dual GRS Searchlight Signals

I didn't manage to find many signals around here, in fact, this is the only one I saw, and is west of the Amtrak station, across from the observation car.   The mounting is kind of unique in the sense that they are located side by side, instead of being mounted one behind the other.  Didn't have a chance to catch the signal going yellow, for the signals are approach lit.

                        


Floobydust


  Sign in the vicinity of the observation car.

  Track signs between the observation car and the Amtrak depot.

  If you're coming into Ann Arbor from the west, you will see this on the back of the 201 building.

   The University of Michigan stadium.



Disclaimers:

I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.

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NEW 08/15/2009
Last Modified 28-Mar-2016