Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Fall Meet Pictures
The Tracks


In General

The White Creek Railroad is a massive undertaking by Russ Eldred that began back in 1994.  Since then, he has installed around six and half miles of mainline (according to Russ's homepage) track and 29 passing sidings. Add to that, he has three yards and two engine/car storage buildings.  There is also 30 or 32 signaled sections, 30 industrial spurs, multiple routes so you don't have to feel like your on a big loop following the same train all the time, and nine junctions.   White Creek is built on approximately 150 acres of 200 Russ owns in Cedar Springs, Michigan, and includes running around and/or over several bodies of water (we'll pray for the rain to come so Three Mile Island once again becomes an island).  If you are into Live Steam and Diesel, you have to make it to White Creek.  My first visit to White Creek was in 1999, when he was still working on the trestle to Three Mile Island.  Russ took the time out of his busy schedule to ride me around on his empire for about an hour and a half, and I was never so impressed.  Visitors are welcome at almost any time except for Sundays.  White Creek hosts numerous operating sessions and meets during the year - check the White Creek's web site or Live Steam magazine.

Here's a few pictures I managed to grab at White Creeks fall meet on Saturday, September the 22nd, 2007.  I wish I had had the opportunity to be there on Friday when they ran at night... I heard it was great!  I tried to get as many pictures as I could, however, I didn't manage to get as many names as I wanted.  If anyone can help identify those that are not, it would be appreciated.

White Creek Homepage

Getting Here

White Creek RR is about 18 miles north of downtown Grand Rapids MI.

Getting to Grand Rapids is easy, I-96 comes in the from the east: Lansing, Detroit, and Flint via I-69 & I-96; from the west (ie Chicago) via I-94 and then I-169 at Benton Harbor; and from the south via US131 from Kalamazoo, and indirectly from South Bend and Elkhart via I-94 and US131.

Once in Grand Rapids, take or continue on US131 north towards Cadillac, and get off at exit 104, 17 Mile Rd NE, or Muskegon Rd NE.

At the end of the off-ramp, take a right, and then an immediate left onto White Creek Ave.  You will come to Aspen St on the left in about a mile and three quarters.... take a left and pass thru the mobile homes, and you will come up to the railroad, and there is plenty of parking on the far side of the tracks.  If you make it to Egner Rd, you have gone a tad too far and need to turn around.


Here is a map of the Cedar Springs area showing how to get to the White Creek RR, and some of the other railroad oriented things to do in the immediate and not so immediate area - Michigan has a lot of neat "stuff" to offer the railfan.  The two photos come from Mapquest, and show an aerial view of the property, for the most part, the tracks are hidden by the trees.  Below the pictures of the meet is a map of the railroad, and a close-up of the main yard - the map is available on the White Creek website as a PDF.

The two maps are available as PDF's here and here


the FALL MEET of Sat 9/22/07

Let's start with a few pictures of the railroad itself:

The main staging yard..... to my right is the "upper yard" (as shown in the right photo), and in the distance of the left photo is the main road and the track to the north loop, adjacent to Russ' house.

The receiving yard, most "northbound" trains will head into the tracks to the right of the light poles, and two of the tracks just to the left of the poles..... Southbound trains from the north loop by Russ' house will be on one of the four tracks all the way to the left.  The track immediately to the left of the light poles loops around to the right and feeds the main staging yard from the north.  This is at "Hidden Valley".

A shot of the two yards above, looking north, from a little further out.

Looking inside part of the the main engine and car storage building.

Trackwork of the "upper" yard at the main engine and car storage.

Looking towards the many bays of the main engine and car storage facility.

Inside the secondary storage facility.

Russ has a substantial signal system in place.  Signals are placed anywhere two tracks go down to a single track.  Trains can (or should) only proceed into the single track territory if the signal is green.  If the signal is yellow, it indicates the track ahead is occupied by a train going in the same direction.  If the signal is red, the track is occupied by a train coming at you.  There are around 30 single track blocks, all protected by signals.  Signals are actuated by a switch mounted on the end of a PVC pipe standing about two feet high, protected from the weather by a cap of a slightly larger diameter PVC pipe.  Relays for the signals are internal to the signal heads, and are interlocked so two engineers pressing the buttons "at the same time" will actuate only one green.  The picture shows one of the few places he has dual signals because the track splits here, with both choices going into single track.

Protecting the grade crossings are these custom built signals.... Nice work.

Out on 3 Mile Island is this stub switch.

Well crafted bumpers show up all over the place.

Fall Meet Pictures

Now for pictures of the trains that showed up for the 2007 fall meet:






Derrick Draft's excellent looking Backyard Engine's CSX  B40-8 and the Phoenix sound installation.... sounds nice!

Russ Eldred and one of his Dash-9's.

Cuc Mai Calhoon Lumber Co Shay No. 1 belongs to Bob Calhoon.

This GBW Alco belongs to Dave Gehrke.

These cute little "bicycles" (there were two there) are also owned by Dave Gehrke, and are a hoot to tour the White Creek on.... one might think it was hard going coming out of the Cornertown area, but since the wheels are 5" in diameter instead of 28, it's easy going and one can easily leave a train in the dust - even uphill.

Thanks to David Reinert of the Milwaukee Light Engineering Society for the info on the owners.

Remember, If anyone can ID any of the other equipment and owners, it would be greatly appreciated.


the FALL MEET of 9/19/14 & 9/20/14

I got here late in the day on Friday and spent the night onsite.  Took a run at night - that was fun!  Things look way different at night than they do during the day, plus, you don't have all the visual cues like you do during the day, so if you don't know the system very well, well, you just kinda keep on wandering around hoping you come across something familiar :-)  The thing with the bare batteries is my weak attempt at putting something together in 6 days to ride, it uses a Plum Cove powered truck.

                Love his signaling system.

Little green (and yellow) things!

                How did that car get on top of a steaming bay track?

The Tracks



  This was at the Big Boy's restaurant around 7:30pm, 1:1 scale.

  We passed this mile marker on the way home.

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NEW 09/24/2007
Last Modified:  06-Sep-2016