Todd and Denver Todd's Railfan Guide to
Chicago IL to Grand Rapids MI

In General


In General

The Amtrak Pere Marquette service provides one roundtrip train a day from Grand Rapids MI to Chicago in the morning, and a return trip in the evening.

     GPS: 42.075024,-87.805642     Chicago IL - CHI    
     GPS: 42.109207,-86.484718     St Joseph - Benton Harbor MI - SJM
     GPS: 42.314417,-86.111784     Bangor MI - BAM 
     GPS: 42.791275,-86.097541     Holland MI -  HOM
     GPS: 42.956211,-85.678806     Grand Rapids MI - GRR    





Aerial shots were taken from www.bing.com/maps. The snap-shots from Bing are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 
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! Contact info is here




Chicago Union Station



St Joseph - Benton Harbor

I remember driving into Benton Harbor many years ago, maybe around 1999 or so, and couldn't help to have this wierd feeling, because Benton Harbor used to be the home of Heathkit Electronics, a longone manufacturer of electronic kits for kids of all ages :-)

When I was there, the town thoughtfully marked the way to the depot with plentiful "train station" signs, don't know if they are still there or not.  I was very lucky to catch the one train a day heading north to Grand Rapids!

Nice swing bridge to the north, with good access for pictures in the adjoining park.

Info on the depot comes from here: http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/SJM

The Amtrak station in St. Joseph station was constructed for the Pere Marquette Railroad (succeeded by CSXT) in 1913 on the shore of Lake Michigan and stands opposite the Silver Beach County Park. Its large covered platform, extending to either side of the main building, was likely built to handle heavy summer traffic to and from lakeside resorts. This stucco and wooden structure features a gabled roof and central clerestory windows. The small waiting room occupies a part of one side of the station today, while the rest is occupied by Silver Beach Pizza.

The city of St. Joseph purchased the station from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1986 for $10,000. Between 1971, when Amtrak began, and 1984, when Amtrak’s Pere Marquette service began, the station stood unused. The city undertook general building renovations including plumbing, heating, and air conditioning, electrical repairs and upgrades, surface repair and painting, the installation of new windows, a new roof system and a parking expansion. The renovation was undertaken to make the property functional again with the aim of bringing in a commercial tenant. It was not a historical renovation.

In consideration for the city committing to operate the renovated facility as a terminal for 20 years following the project completion, a dedicated waiting area was constructed as part of the renovation. The entire project began in 1988 and was completed in mid-1989.

The renovation cost approximately $352,000 and was funded in part by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The state contribution was $140, 000, and the remaining costs were funded by the city’s Lakefront Tax Increment Finance Authority.

Since the renovation, several restaurants have operated in the station and its current occupant has been in the station since 2005. This restaurant conducted significant renovation and redecoration of the facility; most of the visible work, except for the windows, has been theirs.


Cute little trestle just north of the station with easy access from the station for pictures, afternoon sun better from station side.
Grade crossing to the south.

The following is from: http://mc.net/~louisvw/depot/bang/bang.htm

The Bangor Depot was built in 1926 by the Pere Marquette Railroad to replace a earlier wooden station that burned. Beginning in 1984 and through 1991, the depot served as both a passenger station and as the home of the Kalamazoo Toy Train Works. Because of the toy trains manufactured in the station and its Amtrak service, Bangor became known as "Train City USA". Following the termination of toy train manufacturing in 1991, the building was vacated and Amtrak passengers had to wait for their train in a small shelter located next to the empty and deteriorating depot.

Early in 2004, the depot was purchased by Beacon Specialized Living Services, a healthcare services provider. Under their ownership, the empty attic of the original depot was replaced by a second floor, doubling the floor space of the old depot.

The city retained ownership of the far south end of the building.  Originally a covered portico, in later years it was enclosed and used as the passenger waiting room.

In July 2004, the city got a $125,000 Michigan DOT grant to rebuild the waiting room and platform.  Work is to include a new floor, new doors and windows, rebuilding the bathrooms, and refinishing the original waiting room benches.  Amtrak owns the platform.  About half the grant will be paid to Amtrak for rebuilding the platform. The project was to be done by April 2005.

The rebuilt waiting room opened May 6, 2005, with a brief ceremony ending with the arrival of the Amtrak train. Building tours and an open house followed.

Just north of the new waiting room, in what was originally the waiting room, is a delightful, upscale coffee shop, The Bangor Coffee Depot, featuring an extensive menu, G-scale trains on display, a large collection of old photos and artwork, and a patio on the trackside platform.

The main entrance and lobby for Beacon offices is on the depot's west side, in what was the freight room. The freight room scale remains intact. Stairs lead to the company offices on the second floor. The first floor was restored with minimal changes to the original floor plan. The agent's office became a conference room. There is a larger meeting room in what may have been a second waiting room.

Historical architectural purists might not like the changes to the Bangor depot. But really, the only things lost were the two dormers. More important is that the depot, and most of its features, were saved, restored, and put to good use.

BTW, the round thingys across the tracks from the station are vats used to cure pickles for the Freestone Pickle Co, I wonder if they give out samples?  :-)
More info can be found here:

  Old Postcard

  The depot in 1998, before reconstruction


Waiting Room in 2005

  Front Desk in 2005


Nice signal placement for shots of SB trains!
Caboose on display.
Holland yard about 2/3 mile to the NE.

Grand Rapids




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NEW 12/13/2013
Last Modified 14-Dec-2013