Detroit is a great town for railfanning, and has a rich
history to go along with it. To fully railfan Detroit and Windsor, you will have to
spend about a week here. Don't forget your passport if you plan on
crossing into Canada!
Railroads that currently serve
Detroit are: CSX, Norfolk Southern, Conrail, CN, CP Rail, and Amtrak.
Detroit is one of three locales that still has a Conrail presence because of the
"shared assets" thing as part of the Conrail split-up between CSX & NS in 1999.
Philly and northern NJ are the other two areas.
Railroads that used to serve Detroit include:
The Pennsylvania Railroad (-1968) → Penn Central
The New York Central RR (-1968) → Penn Central
Penn Central (1968-1976) → Conrail
The Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton RR (1905-1983) → GTW
The Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Detroit RR (1926-1956) → Connecting RR (PRR)
The Detroit & Mackinaw Rwy Co (1894-1992) → Lake State
The Chesapeake & Ohio Rwy (-1972) → Chessie System
The Baltimore & Ohio RR (1829-1972) → Chessie System
The Chessie System (1972-1987) → CSX
The Pere Marquette RR
The Wabash RR (-1964) → N&W Rwy
The Port Huron & Detroit RR
The Grand Trunk Western RR → CN
The Detroit Terminal RR (1905-1984) → Conrail
The Detroit and Shore Line RR (1898-1981) → GTW
The Detroit area has quite a few yards because of the number of
railroads that use to either come through town or terminate here, they include:
CSX's Rougemere Yard
CP's Flatrock Yard, south of Detroit
CN's/GTW's Detroit Yard on the NW side of town
NS's Detroit Yard
Over in Plymouth near the diamond, you have Station
885, which is a restaurant that was a former station.
The Fort Street Union Station
fell to the wrecking ball in 1974, and it was one of two historic depots
left before it's demise. The last train to leave the station was the
Wabash Cannonball on 4/30/1971.
Michigan is lucky to have so many of it's old stations
converted into use as a restaurant, as
and Lansing all have one!
When looking at the map of Detroit, I believe I counted
eight (8) bridge crossings over water, 6 of them going over River Rouge.
Three of the eight cross over to Zug Island, two of which are for both trains
and vehicular traffic (the north and west bridges).
Between the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor
Tunnel, you have the former Michigan Central Rwy
Tunnel between the U.S. and Canada which opened in 1910. It
is also known as the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
CP Rail wants to build a new tunnel, as can be seen
from this press release dated June 18th, 2010. The Canadian end of the
current tunnel is also shown below, taken from an article
picture from the early 1900's on the American side.
The only tower I am aware of is
Delray Tower, on the north side of town, just off of I-75 exit 44.
It is still an active tower, and you need to keep an eye out for the CSX cops,
because even though they can be friendly, they can still make you move off the
grass if you park along the access road to the cement plant just to let you know
that they are in control.
Other towers I know of that used to be around are (short list):
The Sixth St Tower (controlled movements in & out of
the Fort Street Union Station)
Detroit is in the middle of some of the best railfanning areas in the country, as seen below in the
Getting Here section below. To
railfan the area properly will take you several weeks. Even after
years of coming to Michigan, I still have not "seen it all".
As always, if you have something to contribute, add or correct,
please check here
Detroit has a number of highways leading into town.
Coming up from the south, such as from
Toledo, Ohio, and the east via I-80 and
I-90, you have I-75. If you have been to or are going to either
Fostoriaor Deshler, this
is your road.
To the north, it's all Michigan, on up into the U.P.
(Upper Peninsula) after crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, which is about 3 hours
or so to the north. Along the way, you will also hit the towns of Flint,
Bridgeport and the Junction Valley RR,
all of which have something of interest to the railfan.
Coming in from the western part of Michigan on I-96 you
Grand Rapids and Lansing, the capitol of Michigan.
If you are headed to the upper part of Michigan without
stopping in Detroit, I would recommend taking US23 to bypass Detroit, which
comes up from the Toledo area, goes through Ann Arbor, and then re-joins
I-75 in Flint.
If you coming in from Canada, or going over to Windsor
for railfanning, you have two choices, either the
Ambassador Bridge, or the
Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT.
I know I'm not suppose to interject personal opinion, but one would think
that since they are our closest ally, it would be a simple matter like it
used to be, but no.
Considering the traffic volume, rush hours are not as
bad as you would think. However, BEWARE of weekend traffic to to upper
Michigan via I-75 on Fridays and coming back on Sundays, it just plain
sucks. Take this into account in your travel plans.
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.
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.....
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
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia
must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.