RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guides to
The Depot in Durand
Michigan is a great railfanning state! Detroit is not the only interesting place in Michigan to railfan, altho it is the largest and has the most going on. Don't overlook the other great towns, places, and things Michigan has to offer!
For all of the maps of the Southern Michigan Guide in one PDF doc, click here, it's around 900K.
In Detroit, you have Delrey Tower and the Ford Transportation Museum in Dearborn for starters. Detroit is lucky and has many rail yards, altho a number of them are not very accessible for good photos. All of the biggies" have at least one yard in the area: CSX, NS, CN. Since the split, NS took over the River Rouge Conrail yard, and CN operates out of the former Grand Trunk yard on the NW side of town. CSX has a yard by the Ford plant, and has an operation on the west side in Plymouth....
And speaking of Plymouth Diamond, it always seems to be a favorite with railfans, but you are warned against going into the diamond area, as CSX will call the local gendarmes for your pleasure! There used to be a couple of good sites for railfanning Plymouth Diamond, but the links I can currently find are bad.
Not too far south from downtown Detroit, on the way to Toledo, is a spot where ALL of the major railines were within a quarter mile (or so) of each other, and I can easily picture this back in the steam era when freights were everywhere - people probably got really PO'ed waiting for trains back in 45 (supposedly the peak year for rail traffic) - it's still a neat place for pictures!
Windsor is just "on the other side" and is a so-so place for railfanning according to two railfans I met in Owosso
Outside of the Detroit area, you have Saginaw, Flint, Bay City, Grand Rapids, and Lansing to name a few..... Each town has it's attractions, and none should be overlooked if you are in the area of any of them.
To the south and across the state line from Detroit is Toledo and Walbridge, and if you've never been to Walbridge before, you have to stop there just to check out all of the tracks running all over the place, not to mention a diamond with the NS to the north.
One of my personal favorites is the depot in Durand, but almost all of the towns I have maps for, have a depot and they are all great.
West on the main map, you have places like Michigan City, South Bend, Gary, and Elkhart, all good spots with things like the National NYC RR Museum in Elkhart and the home to NICTD and the South Shore in Michigan City.
If you are into things like Live Diesel and Steam, there are three "railroads" of note:
About 12 miles north of Grand Rapids is the White Creek RR, where Russ Eldrid has put down over 6 miles of 1/8 scale track down (7 1/2" gauge)..... It's the second largest in the U.S. after Train Mountain in Oregon, and unlike TM, you don't have to go out behind another train to enjoy the countryside. He doesn't do Sunday's tho, so plan accordingly.
In Traverse City is the Traverse Steam engine, which is still operating even tho the PETA types had the Traverse City zoo closed several years ago... Traverse City is probably the cherry capital of the U.S.A., and they have their cherry festival in early July. The area around TC is also becoming well known for their wine vineyards! There are many excellent restaurants between TC, Suttons Bay, Leeland, etc, and then for desert, you can head on over to Moomer's ice cream parlor, which was rated by one of the talk shows as the best place in the U.S. for ice cream... there's always a line during the summer! (it's at 7263 N. Long Lake Rd for you GPS freaks)) The train runs on nice days on weekends!
Last but not least, is the Junction Valley Railroad over in Bridgeport (a few hours north on Detroit on I75), the largest quarter scale railroad in the world. This railroad is great, and I fell in love with it the first time I visited it about 6 years ago, altho it has been in operation something like 25+ years. All of their equipment is custom made, and the larger engines have 4 cylinder diesels in them! Although not operational, they also have an extensive signal system. Junction Valley can also boost the only "trestle-diamond" in the world.
A couple of words of caution about my maps for Michigan and the northern parts of Indiana and Ohio.... I haven't traveled for business since 2002, so some of the info contained on them may not be up to date. For those areas where maps.live.com (now bing.com/maps) has a birds eye view, I have updated the info where I can, but for the smaller cities, that luxury doesn't exist. ALSO, I do not have info on the trains or their frequency thru these places. Internet info on this is scarce, with one exception being Battle Creek and Lansing.
During the 2009 Train Festival weekend, I was able to visit Delray, Lansing, part of Saginaw, Bay City, Fostoria, some of Toledo, Berea, Junction Valley, and Walbridge in addition to Owosso and Durand. Any changes I noticed will be added to my maps as time permits. For a review of my summer 2009 Michigan trip, click here.
Additional links to pages I've found will be listed below, associated with my maps if applicable. Copy those web pages if you want the info, as pages come and go faster than slicked lightening :-)
One of the best railfan sites I've seen anywhere is at: http://www.michiganrailroads.com/ ..... they have a lot of good info and maps... the website is easy to navigate, and the website has a good look and feel to it.
RAILROAD and TRANSPORTATION MUSEUMS
Duran Union Station
P.O. Box 106, 200 Railroad Street, Durand, MI 48429 (989)288-3561
Northern Michigan RR Museum
107 E Railroad St, Saint Johns, MI 48879-1525 (517) 668-7246
Southern Michigan RR Society http://www.southernmichiganrailroad.org/
320 South Division St, Clinton MI 49236
The Saginaw Railway Museum
900 Maple St., PO Box 20454, Saginaw MI 48602 (989)-790-7994
The Huckleberry Railroad
6140 Bray Rd, Flint MI 48505 Memorial thru Labor Day Weekends
The Henry Ford Museum
The National NYC RR Museum
The Indiana Transportation Museum
Mad River & NKP
Please Note: DO NOT go to the website madrivermuseum.org.... YOU'VE BEEN WARNED
This is not the official site, it is run by a bunch of German Hackers...
RAILROAD DEPOTS TURNED RESTAURANTS
Ann Arbor MI
the Gandy Dancer Restaurant http://www.muer.com/
Battle Creek MI
Clara's Restaurant http://www.claras.com/railroad/thedepot.html
Historic Depot Restaurant http://www.mackinawcrossings.com/shopping.html
Station 885 http://www.station885.com/
The dinner train is gone.... :-(
Ya'll... If you have anything to add or change, please let me know, this stuff is only good if current: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Michigan Railfan Links:
http://www.trnwatcher.net/ Covering the
Grand Rapids area and more, railroad freqs, etc
http://www.trainwatchers.com/railfanning.ssi Where to Railfan in Michigan
http://www.trainwatchers.com/links.html Links for Michigan Railfans by DLW
http://user.mc.net/~louisvw/depot/ Michigan Passenger Stations by Louis Van Winkle
http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Timeline/1990s/TimeLine1990sBackUp.htm MI's Internet History Museum (by the decade)
http://www.geocities.com/soo6009/ Michigan Railfanning by Brian Plant (I think) with pics from him and Mike Spencer
http://www.frograil.com/railroad/mi.htm A Frograil railfan guide for Michigan, contributions by many
http://www.railroadfan.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=1033 Blog listing the frequencies shown below by Mackinac Mac
http://www.dhke.com/CRJ/index.html Chicago Area Rail Junctions by Bill Gustason
http://gtw.railfan.net/subdivisions.html the Grand Trunk Western RR by Daniel Ward
http://www.trainweb.org/vermande/a/aa.html A few Ann Arbor pix from Tim Vermande
http://www.railroadmichigan.com/links.html Michigan Railroad and Railfan Websites
http://www.afn.org/~afn09444/scanlaws/ Mobile Scanner & Radar Detector Laws In The U.S. by Todd L. Sherman/KB4MHH
Todd's Guides and Maps
Alma to Owosso Chase Maps: Northern Half PDF Map // Southern Half PDF Map
Ann Arbor: Railfan Guide PDF Map SIGS
http://www.muer.com/ the Gandy Dancer Restaurant (they also own the Grand Concourse in downtown Pittsburgh in the ex P&LE station)
Battle Creek: Railfan Guide PDF Map SIGS
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Creek_(Amtrak_station) Wikipedia's entry for the Battle Creek Amtrak Station
https://www.msu.edu/~kindschy/ Battle Creek Railfan Guide by Brad Kindschy
http://www.claras.com/railroad/thedepot.html Clara's Restaurants in Battle Creek and Lansing
Bay City: Railfan Guide PDF Map
Bridgeport and the Junction Valley RR: Railfan Guide PDF Map
Delrey Tower and Rougemere Yard guide PDF Map SIGS
GTW/CN Yard guide PDF Map
Plymouth Diamond: Railfan Guide PDF Map
Durand: Railfan Guide PDF Map SIGS
http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Gym/5065/ Train watching with Wayne, hasn't been updated for a number of years!!!
Durand to Owosso: area map PDF Map
Flatrock/Woodhaven: CN Yard Area map PDF Map
Flint: Flint MI map PDF Map
Grand Rapids: Railfan Guide PDF Map
Jackson: Railfan Guide SIGS
Kalamazoo: Map PDF Map
Lansing: Railfan Guide PDF Map SIGS
http://www.trainweb.org/lansingrailfan/ the Lansing railfan by William S. Davis
http://www.claras.com/railroad/thedepot.html Clara's Restaurants in Battle Creek and Lansing
Owosso: Railfan Guide PDF Map
Saginaw: Railfan Guide PDF Map SIGS
Traverse City: Railfan Guide PDF Map
White Creek RR: Live Steam Railfan Guide PDF Version
Rail Line map of Southern Michigan (1.5meg JPEG) PDF Map
And to make it easier to locate the nearby towns in Indiana and Ohio, here's what I have so far:
Bellevue: Railfan Guide
Berea: Railfan Guide - Premier railfan spot with both CSX and NS running by SIGS
Deshler: Railfan Guide SIGS
Fostoria: Railfan Guide - Triple Double Track Diamonds PDF Map SIGS
North Baltimore: Railfan Guide
Toledo: Railfan Guide PDF Maps are on the individual pages
Walbridge: CSX Yards map PDF Map SIGS
Elkhart: Railfan Guide - home of the National NYC RR Museum PDF Version
Michigan City: Railfan Guide - home to the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend RR & the NICTD Commuter line PDF Version
South Bend: Railfan Guide PDF Version
Terre Haute: Haley Tower
I found these on a blog, contributed by someone with the screen name Mackinac Mac, if anyone knows who he is, thank him for me, cause it took a long time to type this stuff into the blog
Since I was in Michigan last, they seemed to have changed the law concerning having a scanner with you in a car, effective 2006... But getting a ham radio license can still be a fun thing, and they are a lot more helpful than CB when you get into a strange town and are looking for help (as long as you have a repeater guide with you). This is from the same blog.
Last revised 03/02/2015