Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here


In General

I needed a place to put this picture, so I created this page just for it.

Three railroads pass through the city. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates on the tracks that were previously the Nickel Plate Road, the Canadian National is the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad and the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad operates on the tracks that were previously used by the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

The city also has a long history of being a travel hub for the region. In 1858 the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne, and Chicago Railroad reached Valparaiso and connected the city directly to Chicago. By 1910 an interurban railway had connected the city to Gary, Indiana. Today, while the city no longer has a passenger train station, it is still very much a part of the "Crossroads of America" due to its proximity to I-94, I-80, I-90, and I-65.

Until 1991 Valparaiso was the terminal of Amtrak's Calumet commuter service.  The links will take you to Wikipedia pages on those railroads.

The Amtrak station in town is no longer in use.  The closest station looks to be in Michigan City.

Over on the west side of town, you have a couple of diamonds (green arrows), and a crossover (blue arrow).

If I ever get any additional information, maybe the page will develop into a real guide.

More into on Valparaiso is here

Info AND pictures are 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

Getting Here

Valparaiso is about 20 miles southeast of Gary, and about 50 miles from Chicago.  There are no major roads leading into town. 

I-94 and I-80/90 are to the north, although I-80/90, the Indiana Tollway, does not have a convenient exit for Valparaiso.  I-94 to the north does, it's exit 26, which you then take IN 49 south into town.

From I-80/90 to the west of town, take exit 23 in Portage, and then go south on Willowcreek Road till you hit US 6 - take a left.  Go a little over a mile and take a right onto Wolf Rd/N county road 450 W.  When you get to IN 130, hang a left and follow the tracks into town.

From I80/90 on the east side, get off at exit 39, which is US421, and head south.  In about a mile and a half in Westville, bear to the right onto IN 2, and take that into Valparaiso.  It turns in LaPorte Ave in town.


Above maps from Google Maps


Photos courtesy Tim Vermande


    1      ex GTW depot

As of late 2012, the city was trying to figure out what to do with the old GTW depot off of Calumet Ave, as CN has obtained a demolition permit to tear it down.  The full article from the blurb below is here

Passengers have long since stopped getting off at the train depot next to the Canadian National tracks on North Calumet Avenue, but preservationists are hoping to save the century-old station from the wrecking ball.  The city's Historic Preservation Commission is meeting today in hopes of finding someone interested in acquiring the building and moving it. The railroad no longer needs the building and obtained a demolition permit to remove it.  Those interested in saving the station have called for the preservation commission's help.  The city's preservation ordinance can delay demolition up to 45 days to seek ways of saving any structure of historical significance. A 1991 survey of county buildings by the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation and the state Historic Preservation Office classified the depot as "notable."  Tiffany Tolbert, a consultant to the foundation from the city commission, said the railroad line was one of the earliest in the city. Research by Larry Clark, of the Valparaiso Public Library's genealogy department, showed the depot was built around 1904 after a fire that destroyed the second depot at that location.  It was considered as the possible site of a depot for a proposed extension of a South Shore commuter rail line to Valparaiso before city officials settled on the former Amtrak station location. The railroad used the depot for storage for many years, but now wants to tear it down before it falls into disrepair.  "We've been in talks with the city since the issue of demolition came up, and we're trying to come up with a plan to find someone to buy it and move it," Tolbert said. "The railroad has agreed to delay demolition to at least the end of November. It's in pretty good condition, but the railroad is not using it and they would like to clear the site."  A spokesman for Canadian National declined comment.  Clark said the depot originally served the Peninsular Railroad in the 1870s before it was bought by the Chicago and Port Huron Railroad. A link ran past the former Valparaiso Technical Institute to the Baum's Hotel on the site of what is now the Franklin House.

    2      Location of the former Amtrak Station

While there is nothing here anymore, it looks like a nice spot to take pictures from.

    3      2 Diamonds and a Crossover

For a little more substance in your pictures, you might want to check out these locations on the west side of town.  They are all signaled to some degree.


Historical USGS Maps

Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.

For Indiana back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, the USGS did not have much of the state mapped out, so, this is the only thing I could find: the 1925 index map for Indiana. 

Walkerson, Plymouth, LaCrosse, Union Mills, and NJudson look like they would have been terrific railfan spots back in the time, with three roads hitting each town at the same spot!


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.


NEW 02/08/2013
Last Modified 06-Jun-2014