In General
Bridges and Tunnels
Getting Here


Pages in the Detroit Railfan Guide:
Detroit Homepage - You're On It
Map 1 - the Delray Tower area
Map 2 - Plymouth Diamomd
Map 3 - CN's Detroit Yard
Map 4 - CN's Flatrock Yard

In General

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!

For more information on Michigan railroads, check out

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


The Detroit area's main station today days is in Dearborn.

In the downtown area, you also have the old Michigan Central Station, which has not been used since 1988 and is falling apart, but nevertheless, worthy of going by and getting some pictures of it (Shown below in it's heyday).  More at:

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 Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, and Lansing all have one!

Bridges and Tunnels

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 here.


  A 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)


Most signals around the Detroit area are either colorlight signals or searchlight signals.

Floobydust :-)

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

Getting 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 Fostoria or 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, Saginaw, Bay City, and Grayling, all of which have something of interest to the railfan.

If you are coming from the west, say from the Chicago area, I-94 gets you here.  I-94 brings you into Detroit from the SW.  Along this route, you have quite a few great railfanning towns such as Gary IN, Michigan City IN, Benton Harbor,
Battle Creek, Albion and Jackson, and Ann Arbor.

Coming in from the western part of Michigan on I-96 you have
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 here.

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


NEW 05/21/2012, 03/03/2015
Last Modified 04-Jul-2019