In General
Bridges and Tunnels
Getting Here


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:
-- Amtrak
-- Canadian National
-- Conrail
-- CP Rail
-- CSX
-- Norfolk Southern

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 Baltimore & Ohio RR (1829-1972) → Chessie System
-- The Chesapeake & Ohio Rwy (-1972) → Chessie System
-- The Chessie System (1972-1987) → CSX
-- The Detroit & Mackinaw Rwy Co (1894-1992) → Lake State
-- The Detroit and Shore Line RR (1898-1981) → GTW
-- The Detroit Terminal RR (1905-1984) → Conrail
-- The Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton RR (1905-1983) → GTW
-- The Grand Trunk Western RR (-1923) → CN
-- The New York Central RR (-1968) → Penn Central
-- The Norfolk & Western Rwy (1870-1982) → Norfolk Southern
-- Penn Central (1968-1976) → Conrail
-- The Pennsylvania Railroad (-1968) → Penn Central
-- The Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Detroit RR (1926-1956) → Connecting RR (PRR)
-- The Pere Marquette RR (1900-1947) → Chesapeake & Ohio Rwy
-- The Port Huron & Detroit RR (1917-1984) → The Chessie System
-- The Wabash RR (-1964) → N&W Rwy


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:
-- CN's Flatrock Yard, south of Detroit
-- CN/GTW's Detroit Yard on the NW side of town
-- CN/GTW's Schaefer Yard (and a former tower location)
-- CN's Wyandotte Yard
-- CSX's Dix Intermodal Yard
-- CSX's Plymouth Yard
-- CSX's Rougemere Yard
-- NS's Detroit Yard
-- NS's Livernois Yard
-- NS's Livernois Intermodal Yard
-- NS's Oakwood Yard
-- NS's River Rouge Yard


The Detroit area's main active 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)
-- CN's Schaefer Yard


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, JUL04/2019, SEP01/2020
Last Modified 02-Sep-2020