Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General


In General

I'm going to make a guess that at one time, like many other American cities, Saginaw had a most interesting rail scene, especially with that "wye" configuration yard!!  At one time, if you look at the USGS map below, there were four railroad bridges crossing the Saginaw River.  Also as noted, much of the track on the east side of the river in the "downtown" area is no longer around :-(

Most of the rail-road crossings are at grade level, in comparison to many of the other towns in the Michigan section, which should make chasing freights much easier due to speed restrictions.  I was only there for about an hour, so I can't tell you much about railfanning Saginaw per se.

The last time I was through here, about 2009 or so, there was a fixed position semaphore on 6th Ave as noted on the map - it's a fixed signal, but nevertheless, it's still pretty cool! 

The aerial shots are from either Google Maps or  www.bing.com/maps as noted.... Bings Birds Eye View and Google's Street View are frickin great resources for railfanning! 


The above map can be found here as a PDF


    1       ex Pere Marquette Potter Street Depot

GPS Coordinates:43.440773, -83.932968
Approximate Address:
501 Potter St, Saginaw, MI 48607

Built in 1881 by the Flint & Pere Marquette Rwy
, it's a beautiful structure, and unfortunately, unused.

The Pere Marquette depot on Potter St, adjacent to the yards.



    2       Lake State RR Office

GPS Coordinates: 43.441647, -83.934329



    3       At The Yard

GPS Coordinates: 43.441004, -83.918199 (Center of the turntable)

Lake State, since I was around taking pictures of them maybe 6-8 years ago, has posted signs all over the place, and has put fences up at most locations, even in Bay City which was not even posted the last time I was there.  Michigan has a law where private property doesn't have to be posted, so you can be arrested for trespassing without any notice that you did something wrong... this was explained to us by a CSX cop in Toledo while taking pictures of another Lake State train.

The thumbnails belowt are views looking south from the pedestrian overpass... the far set of signals is about a mile and a half down the track.  With as little as the signals are used, you would think they would rewire them for approach lighting.

All of my photos are taken with a Canon SX10IS camera, which has 20x optical zoom, and another 4x digital, which adds up to 80x... add to this image stabilization, and you can  get pictures like this without a tripod!  The camera can also do macro to zero inches in addition to video and audio as a "tape recorder".  I used to shoot with a Canon SLR, and had to have a bag full of lenses to do the same thing.  I hated loosing the SLR, but less and less places are developing slides, and there's only one left in the U.S. still doing kodachrome.  Too many signals, not enough time.

Above and below are a couple of shots inside the wye.  It's too bad there isn't easy access to the turntable :-(

It's too bad all of the really good stuff is buried deep inside the yard :-(

An empty Lake State freight sitting on the south leg of the wye, NB - pictures from "above" are taken from the pedestrian crosswalk that goes over the yard.


    4       The Saginaw Railway Museum

GPS Coordinates: 43.407513, -83.984588
This is the home of the Saginaw Railway Museum
900 Maple Street, Saginaw MI, 48602      989-790-7994
It's on the southwest side of town.   For more info: 


    5       Criss-Cross

GPS Coordinates: 43.419404, -83.900706
At one time this probably provided some interesting switching off these sidings.  It's off 27th and Holland, I-75 exit 149.  The picture is upside down, but oriented properly with the north at the top.... it shows the detail a little bit better.


    6       Former Yard

GPS Coordinates: 43.450271, -83.925140 (Center of the yard)
Looks like a 6-8 track stub-end yard was here at one time (yellow arrow), and a siding on the south side of the mainline track (green arrow).  The fixed approach semaphore is at the bottom left corner of the picture.


    7       Diamond

GPS Coordinates: 43.444389, -83.944274

The diamond looks like it is at least protected by three signals, on the west, north, and south sides.  I haven't been to the diamond, and can't tell from the Google Streetview pictures if the signal on the east side of the diamond is approach signal for the diamond or the bridge.  Pictures of the signals are below in the signal section.

    8       the Yard at Holland Rd

GPS Coordinates: 43.414739, -83.906838

This is the north end of the small yard at Holland.  There used to be a diamond here - the line going off to the right is now a short industrial spur.


    8       the Yard at Delphi Electronics

GPS Coordinates: 43.408284, -83.882499



    1       The Semaphore on 6th Ave.

GPS Coordinates: 43.449523, -83.926953
This semaphore serves as an approach to the signal below.




GPS Coordinates: 43.442076, -83.935514
The above semaphore serves as the approach signal to this one: a signal with two heads, but only the lower signal is a searchlight... the upper signal is a fixed aspect that always displays red.  The first three pictures are the lower head, the two in the middle are of the upper head.




    3       Bridge Approach Dwarf

GPS Coordinates: 43.441391, -83.934527
A single GRS searchlight dwarf protects the drawbridge from this side.


    4       Perkins Street

GPS Coordinates: 43.422201, -83.910188
Two tracks to one going southbound, there are only these two SB signals, none for NB trains.


    5       2-1 Interlocking

GPS Coordinates: 43.390587, -83.895984
Although the signals and switch are viewable from Tatham Rd, the signals are better accessed from Hughes St, off of Longview and Ohio Streets.



    6       Diamond Interlocking Signals

  From the south  GPS Coordinates: 43.441595, -83.945559

  From the west  GPS Coordinates: 43.444638, -83.945776

  From the east  GPS Coordinates: 43.444088, -83.942612

  From the north  GPS Coordinates: 43.447080, -83.942946

Railroad Bridges

    1       Bridge 1

Looks like the control tower for the bridge is now gone, judging from the Google Maps Street view.


  After       Before

    2       Bridge 2 - Swingbridge

Just guessing, but it probably doesn't swing anymore.


    3       Bridge 3

This bridge is off the bottom of the map....



Other Shots from Around Town

Pedestrian overpass on the southern side of the yard/wye.

Pedestrian overpass on the eastern side of the yard/wye.

I wonder how many developers are jealous of the riverfront property the CN has on it's way through town.

Anyone want a used hopper?

I don't normally include pictures of roads and/or highways, but I think the Michigan DOT should get some sort of award for this interchange :-)  It's exit 151, Washington Rd.


From the University of Texas Library collection here: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/topo_us.html
This is a huge map, so I made it a thumbnail to keep the page from loading really, really slowly :-)........


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 07/08/2009
Last Modified 09-Mar-2015