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Railfan Sites in Indiana

A self-guiding railfan tour

Railfan, railfan--where do you see trains in Indiana?

See a map of Frograil tours in Indiana.

Take a tour! There is a tour between Fort Wayne's New Haven NE Junction and Fostoria, Ohio. This is NS's ex-NKP Chicago - Fort Wayne - Belleview - Buffalo line, and is an 82 mile tour.Detailed fan locations along the tour are marked with a [NKP] logo.

Take a tour! A large tour has been undertaken, which may one day cover CSX from East St Louis to Cleveland.The Avon (Indianapolis) thru Anderson segment has been completed (56.1 miles), as has the Anderson - Sidney, Ohio segment (xx.x miles). Detailed fan locations along the tour are marked with a [CCC&StL] logo.

Take a tour! Parts of two segments of the Frograil Tour "The Wabash through the Heartland" are complete all the way between the state line east of Danville, Illinois, and Fort Wayne's New Haven NE Junction, a distance of more than 150 miles. Detailed fan locations along the tour are marked with a [WABASH] logo.

Trainwatching Sites

ALEXANDRIA(September 2, 1998)

Alexandria is about 9 miles north of Anderson, on IN-9. In the south side of town is the site of the crossing of CR and NS. While traffic is sporadic, you will see long manifest freights on the north-south CR and east-west NS. There are also some double-stacks on the latter. The crossing is to the east of IN-9.

Thanks to Roger Hensley of Madison County, Indiana, for this information. My Uncle Wyllys, age 89, also gave me some help with Anderson.

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AVON(September 21, 1998)

The cabin (ex-MY tower) at the east end of Avon yard used to be a railfan location, but local railfans advise against going there, as the CR police have been asking people to leave. Therefore, I've dropped it from the railfan pages, and suggest you try the following location, which was provided by Bob Burns, who knows the local scene:

From I-465 west of Indianapolis, go west on US-36 past Raceway Road until you get to the Avon Fun Center (golf driving range, miniature golf, go-carts). Turn left (south) on Gable Road at the west edge of the fun center. This road dead ends at the yard, at a point just east of the mainline fueling station. This is also at the throat of the departure yard, so you get to see the pullers dragging cuts of cars out of the classification yard, and shoving them into the departure yard, in order to make up trains. Anything that relays thru the main or the Controlled Siding will re-crew and/or refuel right in front of you. Also, any eastbound that leaves the departure yard will go right in front of you, too.

Stay north of the "no trespassing sign" and you won't be bothered.

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BUTLER (November 25, 2001)

This is a small town with a big railfan location. On the east edge of town on US-6 is a bowling alley -- Laredo Lanes. Behind the bowling alley is a road between the building and a bunch of tracks. Indeed, the tracks are the crossing of the NS (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-NYC, exxxx-LSMS) Cleveland - Toledo - Chicago line -- one of the busiest main lines in America, and the NS (ex-WAB) Fort Wayne - Detroit main. Theoretically, you can have as many as 100 trains per day go thru the crossing.

With only 2,600 souls, life support is a little thin, and you might want to stay in Fort Wayne or Auburn overnight and then spend some time at Butler's busy crossing. To get to Butler, go north on I-69 from Fort Wayne to exit 134, and then east on US-6 10 miles to town.

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CORUNNA (September 4, 1999)

There's one thing which seems to repeat over and over, when one discusses Midwestern railfanning, and that's "US-6". Corunna is on (surprise, surprise) US-6. From Fort Wayne, travel north on I-69 (boring) or IN-327 (much more to the railfan's liking), until you get up to Corunna and US-6. In the words of Pat: "...on US-6 there is a bridge over NS lines. This is a great place for pictures & a great thrill when these trains pass directly under you...WOW!!" To the west is Kendallville, maybe 6 miles or so, which has motels and restaurants.

Pat Payton has been nice enough to share this info with us. Let's hope we here more often from Pat!

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ELKHART -- AMTRAK STATION AREA (September 3, 1998)

From I-80/90, the Indiana Toll (ugh) Road, get off at exit 92 for Elkhart. Turn left onto Cassopolis Street (IN-19), following it until it ends. This is Beardsley Avenue; turn right. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Main Street (GET IN THE RIGHT LANE!), and just before the Conrail tracks, turn right onto Tyler. There is a right turn lane for traffic turning onto Tyler.

Thanks to Keith Thews for this info.

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ELKHART -- CONRAIL YARD (September 3, 1998)

The yard itself is huge, and goes on for miles; one can drive next to the yard on old US 33 west of town. From I-80/90, the Indiana Toll Road, get off at exit 92 for Elkhart. This is IN-19 -- go south on it until you come to a railroad underpass. Turn right at the light and follow the tracks west. Along here, there are places when one can park in the dirt areas.

Thanks to Keith Thews for this info.

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ELKHART -- MICHIGAN SOUTHERN (September 3, 1998)

There is a small yard at the corner of Jackson Street and Prairie Street. Assuming you are coming from the west, take IN-933 west towards Elkhart, and remain on IN-933 into the city. Go to Main Street and turn right on Jackson Street. You will see the MSO engine on the right when you get to the tracks. There are various places in this area, so pick and choose. Scanner frequency is 152.915 Mhz. Operations currently are sporadic, so you might want to call ahead. There is a Conrail transfer (Job 18) which delivers cars for MSO.

Besides the yard area, the best way to find sites for MSO is to pick and choose. To follow the tracks, the best way to do so would be to find the crossing/mini-yard and head north on Prairie Street, which will become Johnson Street. After crossing the bridge next to the dam (get into the left lane of traffic once -- or better yet, before -- you cross the bridge), and turn left at the light. You will be on Beardsley Street. As you cross the tracks you will come upon a good spot on your right. This is High Dive Park. The tracks are very close to you here.

Get back on Beardsley and go right on Cassopolis Street. Here, there are fair locations for seeing the train come around a curve. Once back on Beardsley, go until you come to Michigan Street. Here, you can turn to the right and see another viewing area from a lot south of a green building (Zorn Industries). Going further on Beardsley, you will see Beardsley end, and by heading to the right and crossing the tracks, you will be on Mishawaka Avenue/California Road. Once on Mishawaka Avenue/California Road, you can follow this all the way out to the county line. In the process, you can cross the MSO tracks at CR-3, CR-1, and County Line Road. From County Line Road, you can turn left and head for the Conrail tracks and turn left to pass the yard.

This exhaustive approach to pacing the Michigan Southern is courtesy of Keith Thews.

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ELKHART -- NEW YORK CENTRAL MUSEUM (September 3, 1998)

I don't ordinarily include museums in this railfan guide, but the proximity of the NYC Museum to the CR mainline, as well as the enthusiasm the members have for their organization, have prompted me to do so in this case.

From I-80/90 (Indiana Toll (ugh) Road), take exit 92 for Elkhart. Turn left onto Cassopolis Street (IN-19), following it until it ends. This is Beardsley Avenue. Turn right. At the next traffic light turn left onto Main Street (GET IN THE RIGHT LANE!), cross the Conrail tracks, and immediately turn right into the museum's parking lot. The admission is hideously steep, at all of $2.00 per adult, and they even give a senior citizen (55+) a reduced rate of $1.00. This is well worth it.

For information on their collection, activities and the like, visit their web site here .

The attraction here, besides the obvious historic collection, is the fact that the museum offers an excellent view of the Conrail mainline, and represents an excellent photographic site.

This material concerning the NYC Museum was brought to our attention by Keith Thews, of northern Indiana fame.

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GARRETT (September 4, 1999)

The site of a small CSX yard, this is on the ex-B&O main line between Willard, Ohio, and Chicago. This is, especially after the Conrail break-up, big time turn-on-the-century railroading. Catch the action by traveling north from Fort Wayne on IN-327, and then follow your railfan nose. If you can't find the action in this town of 5,400 folks, you probably should take up tie-dying rather than railfanning. There is a small museum here, and there are restaurants and motels in Auburn, 4 miles northeast.

Pat Payton has been nice enough to share this info with us. Let's hope we here more often from Pat!

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INDIANAPOLIS -- INDIANA RAIL ROAD (September 2, 1998)

INDIANA RAIL ROAD From I-70, take West Street south, to east on Morris, to south on Senate. 1-4 engines.

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JEFFERSONVILLE -- LIRC YARD (August 2001)

Traveling south on I-65 north of the Ohio River at Louisville, the Louisville and Indiana Railroad has a yard. As you drive thru Jeffersonville, Indiana, you'll suddenly note an odd bunch of locos on the east side of the interstate. There are several models with several paint schemes. Reporting marks are LIRC, but most folks refer to it as the L&I. No dinky shortline, the railroad goes all the way north to Indianapolis. I'd suggest you not try to take a left turn off I-65! Instead, take exit 2 for Eastern Boulevard, and turn left on Eastern, go under I-65, and on east towards the railroad. Old State Road 31E will go off to your left (north), and you will want to take it. There are some smallish businesses, and then the yard will come in on your right. Old 31E continues to a dead end close to I-65 a little to your north. Pick your photo location, but do not trespass.

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LA PORTE (July 2004)

Located on the NS (ex-CR) Chicago main line between Gary and South Bend, La Porte offers some easy, relaxing train watching -- if you call dozens of trains a day relaxing. From the intersection of US-35 and IN-2 in the center of town, go north on US-35 two blocks and turn either right or left onto Washington Street. Washington, and further northeast, Brighton Street parallels the main for much of the length of the town. There are a few crossings, but they tend to be busy. I'd recommend you just find a good place and relax. There are restaurants and motels close by.

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LAPEL (September 2, 1998)

Lapel is located about 10 miles due west of Anderson. This small town of less that 2,000 folks has a surprising amount to offer the visiting railfan, as it's the home of the Central Indiana and Western Railroad. Grain and glass making materials traffic is generated in Lapel, and is shipped to the South Anderson Yards in Anderson. A visit is best during the week, and especially during the grain moving season in the fall, as there are almost daily trips into Anderson.

CIW's SW7 #88 may be found at its tie up near one of Lapel's downtown grain elevators, or working the elevator or grain plant. The railroad personnel are friendly, but will not tolerate trespassing or stupidity.

Thanks to Roger Hensley of Madison County, Indiana, for this information.

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MUNCIE -- A MINI-TOUR (March 23, 2002)

In eastern Indiana, Muncie is a great place to see some action. Three major rail lines meet and cross in Muncie: NS Ft Wayne-Cincinnati (New Castle District), NS Muncie-Decatur (Frankfort District), and CSX Indianapolis-Sidney, OH. These are good for 40-50 trains a day, total. While I have data on several locations, and can give them to you via an alphabetical listing, what might be more beneficial would be a Frograil Tour-type approach thru the city. Therefore, 6 different locations are presented in southwest - northeast fashion. This isn't a full-blown Frograil Tour, but it will use the Frograil conventions, and if you've never been to Muncie, you'll be able to breeze thru the tour with no sweat, and a minimum of back-tracking and repetition. Enjoy.

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MUNCIE -- IN-32 (March 23, 2002)

From Indianapolis, head northeast past Anderson on I-69, and take the IN-32 exit towards Muncie. This highway parallels the CSX Sidney, OH, - Indianapolis main line. While you'll be north of the line as it enters downtown Muncie, some creative non-trespassing (use grade crossings) can get you south of the tracks for some excellent action shots. Nichols and Perkins Avenues are worth exploring.

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MUNCIE -- TILLOTSON AVENUE (March 230, 2002)

After you're thru exploring the IN-32 area towards downtown Muncie, backtrack several blocks and go north on South Tillotson Avenue. Cross the tracks and continue north to Jackson Street. Take a left to go west on Jackson, and find a place that works for you. Here, you've got eastbound NS trains zooming along until they get close to downtown Muncie and have to either slow down or (Heaven forbid!) stop. There is life support in the area.

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MUNCIE -- WALNUT STREET (March 23, 2002)

Turn around and go east on Jackson Street, which will also become IN-32 in the downtown area. As you get into downtown-downtown, go south (right) on South Walnut Street.

Things get interesting very rapidly after you cross Seymour Street, about 4 blocks south of Jackson. You'll cross several tracks -- the NS New Castle District tracks cross CSX at CP-229 just east of Walnut Street, and the Frankfort District crosses CSX just to the west at CP-230. A recommended location is to continue south on Walnut, and take the first right onto West 2nd Street. Go to Liberty Street and take another right to go north. Park behind what was the NYC's freight house.

For life support, there's a McDonalds north of the tracks about 2 blocks, and then east on Charles for about 4 blocks. Motels and shopping are along McGalliard Road/IN-332 on the north side of the city.

This excellent information provided by Bruce Bridges. Many thanks, Bruce.

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MUNCIE -- 6TH STREET (March 23, 2002)

Here's another close-by location which can give you different lighting, different backdrops, and AM/PM lighting. On either Walnut or Liberty streets, continue south a few blocks to 6th Street. Take a right and go to the tracks. This is the south end of the west Muncie-area wye, and sees all NS (ex-NKP) traffic. The Liberty Bowl bowling alley's parking lot is a good location for AM shots, and the Muncie Street Department gravel area on the west side of the tracks is good for your PM shots.

This excellent information provided by Bruce Bridges. Many thanks, Bruce.

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MUNCIE -- McCULLOUGH PARK (March 23, 2002)

By now, your lovely bride and darling kids are cranky, so you need a break from these awful trains. Here's the break: Go back north on Walnut Street, cross all the tracks and continue north to McCullough Boulevard. Take this right (be careful, it's a complex intersection) into McCullough Park. The first set of tracks is the NS Newcastle District, and there's a most photogenic bridge over the White River. You'll have to be creative to make the light work for you, but it can be done. The second bridge, still lettered proudly for the "Chesapeake & Ohio" is still standing, but the rails are long gone. The old roadbed is now the Cardinal Bikeway, and that's a good thing -- anything's better than a total disregard for the history of a once-important railroad. Get out and about and explore. Let the kids run free and let your imagination take you back 75 years.

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MUNCIE -- NS WYE (March 23, 2002)

From the park, go back south on Walnut to Jackson, take a left, and head east all the way to the crossing of the White River. Jackson is also know as IN-32 thru the city. Take your first left past the river onto either Bunch Boulevard or North Gavin Street (It's the same road, I just am not sure of the correct name), and cross the NS tracks. Immediately after crossing the NS tracks, take a right on what will definitely now be North Gavin Street. Between the first crossing of the NS tracks and the next crossing of tracks on North Gavin, the NS wye in Muncie is to your southeast. Note that this is an NS location, and you must be extra mindful of your whereabouts. Muncie's east side is not Beverly Hills and NS is not Wee Willy Wonka-land. Keep your wits about you and your butt off railroad property.

The wye serves as the west throat of the Norfolk Southern East yard, and you can see a lot of stuff coming and going. Just be sure you're on public property.

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MUNCIE -- CENTENNIAL AVENUE (March 23, 2002)

From the wye, continue straight north to East Centennial Avenue, a major thoroughfare. Take a right and go east on Centennial. Eventually, you'll come to the NS Frankfort District tracks. While not a hotspot, per se, it is not irregular to see trains backed up waiting for clearance to enter the NS East Muncie Yard. Plus, if you're hoping to get to Walnut Street for a nice comfy session, but hear a train calling thru here, this is an OK quickee photo location.

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OSCEOLA (September 3, 1998)

Osceola is a town between Elkhart and South Bend, Indiana, on US 33. The Conrail east-west, ex-NYC mainline runs right through town, and sees one heck of a lot of action. Off-railroad property, trackside access is OK in the following two places: On the east-west street thru town, there is a grave marker engraving firm, and there is an at-grade crossing here. There is a combination Subway/Gas station on the same east-west main drag, and there is OK access behind this business.

Thanks to Keith Thews for this info.

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PORTAGE -- PORT OF INDIANA (July, 2001)

This is a Lake Michigan port north of the city of Portage. From either I-80/90 or I-94, take the Portage exit, and go north on IN-249. The railroad yard just south of the port was previously a Conrail yard, but now you'll see NS, UP, Indiana Harbor Belt and the South Shore Line, as well as Amtrak. Vincent Davis, who was kind enough to provide this information to us, says you can enter the Port to see the unloading of ships, and other activity. However, most ports are notoriously security-minded, so you must make certain you are not in violation of any trespassing prohibitions.

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PORTER (November 6, 1999)

Over the years, lots of things have happened at Porter. Railroad names have changed, routings have changed, and who knows what else has changed, but the basics at Porter have remained the same: This is a northwest Indiana gateway to Chicago, and one heck of a lot of trains roll thru here.

You can reach Porter via US-20, I-80/90 (East-West Toll Road), I-94, US-6, IN-49. It's about 22-24 miles west of the Illinois State Line. I'd suggest you get a map off the net ahead of time, but failing that, Derek recommends that from IN-49, take Porter Avenue to 15th Street, and then head north. Park by the storage sheds. DO NOT GO TO THE JUNCTION ITSELF. RESPECT NS PROPERTY AND THE PRIVATE PROPERTY YOU ARE ON AT ALL TIMES, AND CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. [Webauthor's comment: Porter is a premier place to watch trains. It is up to us, railfans all, to keep it available to enjoy. If you see a dork railfan, call the railroad or even the Porter Police. We 'fans do not need to tolerate such people, anymore than the railroad does, and if we do tolerate them, we lower ourselves to the level of those troglodytes.]

Additional information on Porter is here.

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REMINGTON

Remington is on US-24, just east of I-65, in the northwest quadrant of the state. The Toledo, Peoria and Western (TPW) runs parallel to, and immediately south of, US-24. To the east of Remington, in the vicinity of I-65, is TPW's Hoosier Lift intermodal facility. TRAINS magazine has a little info on this facility and its activity in the March, 1997 issue, and because this is pretty wide open country, you should be able to get some pix, especially when road trains are coming and going. Check with employees, if possible, for info, but stay out of the facility itself.

What, you don't subscribe to TRAINS? Well, I think you're missing a darned good read. Try their web site here.

By the way, if you look very carefully, you should be able to see giant dots and dashes marching north-south just east of I-65, as that is the boundary between the eastern and central time zones.

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TERRA HAUTE -- HALEY TOWER (July 31, 2002)

Haley is one of the most famous railfan locations in the mid-West. Today, it's still a great place to watch the action, especially because of the efforts of the volunteers of the Wabash Valley Railroaders Museum. They have moved Haley from destruction, preserved it, and you can see what a major tower was like in the not very distant past. Hours of operation are 1-4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays from May thru October. Besides Haley, this ambitious group has moved the Spring Hill tower to the site. There is an earthen berm (hopefully to be someday replaced by a proper train-viewing structure) for train-watching, and you'll probably meet some other fans there on most days.

While CSX provides the lion's share of the action, CP will also brighten up your day. To get to the site from I-70, go north on US-41 into Terra Haute. About 4 miles north of the interstate, take a right on 8th Avenue. There is a sign of Union Hospital at the intersection. Follow 8th to the railroad tracks in the vicinity of 13 Street. You'll see Spring Hill tower on your left.

Frograil sends a "Thank You" to Bill Foster of the Wabash Valley Railroaders Museum for this information.

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WATERLOO (August 2000)

Tucked quietly in the northeast corner of Indiana, this town of 2,000 souls sits astride one of the great railfan highways in the United States: US-6. Like other sections of this long east-west highway, a railroad plays tag with it for mile after mile. In Waterloo, NS's ex-CR Chicago line blasts thru town with dozens of intermodal and manifest freights each day. Amtrak plies the route also, and there is an Amtrak station at Lincoln and Center streets downtown. In fact, Richard points out that there is good parking there and good viewing. Also, because of good lighting, the platforms allow "...excellent night time viewing and photography.

There is a full crossover right at the station (CP-367), and talking defect detectors at Kendallville and Butler (closest), but you won't need these to warn you of approaching trains, as the track is dead straight for several miles in either direction. That said, these trains can be quiet and rather fast, so be alert at all times.

From I-69 north of Fort Wayne, take the US-6 exit (#134) and go east into Waterloo. As you get into town, go south on Center Street (local road 35) south to the tracks and the station area.

This entry is adapted from a Richard Heise entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

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WELLSBORO (February 27, 2002)

This is a tiny village in the northwest corner of the state. It has a major railfan attraction: The crossing of the CSX Willard - Chicago main and the CN Detroit - Chicago main. These are both major lines, and give you two great features: Lots of trains (50-60 on CSX; 25-30 on CN), and lots of variety (besides CSX and CN, expect almost any foreign power thru here.). You'll need lots of film.

From US-6 (one of the GREAT railfan highways in North America) southwest of LaPorte, go south on either LaPorte county road 300 or 400. When you cross CSX (first set of tracks on CR-400; second set on CR-300), go towards "downtown" on Hamilton Street. Be prepared to break out the lawn chairs and coolers in the vicinity of the crossing, and make sure your coolers are full, because the nearest life support is in either Westville or LaPorte! A large, empty juice bottle might also be a good idea.

This excellent information provided by Bruce Bridges. Many thanks, Bruce. Further information on Wellsboro is available here.

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Cities And Sites

(1) Pat Payton has been nice enough to share this info with us. Let's hope we hear more often from Pat!

(2) These are links to Bill Gustason's most excellent Chicago Railroad Junction pages.

(3) These sites are on Dean Francisco's Louisville Railfan pages, which are here.

(5) Roger Hensley, who studies and comments upon "The Railroads of Madison, County, Indiana", was kind enough to share this info with us.

(6) With a tip of the hat to Keith Thews of Indiana for these goodies. Keith is a student of the northern Indiana rail scene.

(7)Bob Burns of Indiana has been kind enough to provide some updated info concerning railfanning in the greater Indianapolis area.

(8) Derek Taylor, who hangs around that fine Midwestern bastion of learning, DePauw University, was generous enough to provide us with this information. Derek is a most knowledgeable guy, and we hope to hear from him in the future.

(9) Ex-Indiana resident John Buberniak has provided some really good info to us.

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