Tag Archives: Blue Water

Battle Creek (BTL)

104 Capital Avenue S.W.
Battle Creek, MI 49017

The Battle Creek station underwent a renovation in 2011-2012. (Photo by Steve Sobel)

The Battle Creek station is an intermodal center owned by the Battle Creek Transportation Authority. It has fairly good access by car, and all city buses come to the station. For short term parking, it is recommended that passengers use the ice skating rink parking lot immediately west of the station. Long term parking permits are available from the agent which allows passengers to park their cars in the station drive. The area is quite safe, and cars can be left in the long term parking area for extended periods without worry.

The downtown area of Battle Creek has undergone a substantial redevelopment in recent years, and the station is surrounded by a 4-star hotel, a water park , a convention arena and the downtown shopping district. The exterior of the station retains the lines of a traditional station, but there’s nothing traditional about it at night. Station eaves, roof lines and columns are lit by neon and fluorescent lights, and the result is spectacular.

The new interior of the Battle Creek station. (Photo by John DeLora)

Being an intermodal station with substantial traffic and isused by Amtrak, Indian Trails, Greyhound and Battle Creek Transit . The station was built 30 years ago in what was then a popular design which some call “Urban Gothic,” with concrete, steel deck plate and black leather décor. A $3.8 million renovation was completed in June 2012 that changed some of that. The enlarged facility is a light tan, with new, expanded seating and a much more open and inviting interior. One notable change is that the bus ticket counter has been moved down a hallway to the west, and is now more conveniently located to the intercity bus boarding dock.  The Amtrak agent occupies one half, the bus agent the other half. Vending machines are available in an alcove. There are plenty of restaurants ranging from fast food to Four Star within a short walk.

The city used another stimulus award to relocate the bus transfer center from next to the train station to across McCamly Street at a cost of $230,262. Battle Creek Transit buses now use a loop west of the station with shelters for the east route.

Amtrak station page:


200 South Railroad Street
Durand, MI 48429

The city of Durand has posted directional signs leading to the station. (Photos by Larry Sobczak)

The Durand Union Station has led a storied life that makes the Perils of Pauline look sedate. Fortunately for passengers, the historic depot still stands today. Access to the station is a bit difficult, as track owner Canadian National Railroad insisted upon closing the most direct crossing to the station. With the help of recently added signs, navigating to the station via Russell Street and a residential district is not nearly as confusing as it once was. Once at the station, plenty of free parking is available, and safety is not a question in this small town. There is no public transportation to this unstaffed station.

The station building is now owned by the non-profit Durand Union Station, Inc., and is home of the Michigan Railroad History Museum. Together, they have restored the 1905-built building bit by bit, and today it is home to several interesting displays about railroad history in Michigan. The Amtrak waiting room is maintained at the northern end of the building, and features a meticulously restored wrought-iron and wood ticket counter, though tickets cannot be purchased at this location. The waiting room is open for the morning and evening arrivals of the Blue Water, and has several wooden benches and a rack full of Amtrak travel information.

Durand has long been an important junction point for trains in Michigan, and remains so today. The station building is enormous for a town the size of Durand, but at one time over 100 trains a day passed through, including up to 42 passenger trains. Due to the volume and variety of trains which still pass through today, the station is a gathering point for hard core railfans from across the country. They can easily be identified as those carrying railroad radio scanners and video cameras monitoring and recording the train movements. The recently installed black fence along the tracks is not just for decoration, there is a $50.00 fine for trespassing on railroad property, and this is strictly enforced by both railroad and city police. Railroad safety is a big deal!

When Canadian National abandoned the station in 1974 and began preparations for demolition, the city undertook a monumental effort to acquire the building for preservation. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the task of stabilization and then restoration began. Cost saving alterations which occurred late in the building’s life were removed, and a new red tile roof was installed. The result is a lovingly restored train station which is one of the most distinctive in the country. Over one hundred years after the station was built, the waiting room is still open, and you can still buy a ticket to Durand.

Amtrak station page:

East Lansing (LNS)

1240 South Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48823

(Photo by J.R. Valderas)

The staffed East Lansing station is the hub for intercity land travel into and out of the state capital region.  Access is easy – simply take the Trowbridge Road exit from I-496/US-127, follow Trowbridge to Harrison Road (the first major intersection), turn south and cross the first set of railroad tracks, and the station is immediately on the right.  This location makes it convenient to people from around the greater Lansing area, and also to students at Michigan State University, as the station is located at the southwest corner of campus.  Parking includes 20 spaces in front of the station; if these are full, an additional 45 spaces are available to the side of and behind the station building.  Some spaces are marked with signs indicating an Amtrak permit is required, so be sure to check with the station agent if you park here to see if a permit is necessary or not. 

This station is also a stop on the Amtrak Thruway motorcoach to Toledo Ohio, which provides a guaranteed connection to the Lake Shore Limited and the Capitol Limited.  Contact Amtrak or a station ticket agent for details about this connection.

Vending machines are available in the waiting room, and there are also several convenience stores and restaurants within a short walk.  Local city bus service is provided by the Capital Area Transportation Authority, and the station is currently a stop on CATA  routes 20, 30, and 38.  Not all routes run at all times, so be sure to check ahead.  Taxi phone numbers are also posted in the station. 

East Lansing is home to Michigan State University, the largest in Michigan.  Adjacent Lansing is Michigan’s state capital, and the beautifully restored 1878 Capitol building is well worth a visit.  Also worth a visit is the Library of Michigan, and the Michigan History Museum, an excellent museum full of state history.  For decades, Lansing was home to the REO Motor Car Company, and the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors, and the R. E. Olds Museum pays tribute to these important components of the local past.  The Greater Lansing Visitors Bureau offers a look at many additional cultural and local attractions of the area. 

Amtrak station page:

Flint (FLN)

1407 South Dort Highway
Flint, MI 48503

The access to the Flint station is somewhat better marked than most. The facility is in an area that is isolated from any businesses. The area has recently had a major transit facility constructed next to the Amtrak station, and the main problem now is a tight parking situation. It is safe to leave cars here for extended periods.

The Flint station is an “Amshack” design, and it is just about the right size for the current traffic load. The real plus is an agent who not only keeps it immaculate, but who also plants and maintains attractive flower plantings around the station. The station has vending machines, but there are no restaurants within walking distance.

Local bus service is provided by the Flint Mass Transit Authority. Buses for route # 20 stop across the parking lot from the station; consult the authority regarding bus connections to other routes.

Although local website links are not the best, Flint offers a lot to do for the visitor. Although still primarily an auto-factory town, Flint has excellent museums, educational facilities, and many interesting places worth a visit in the immediate area.

Amtrak station page:

Kalamazoo (KAL)

459 North Burdick Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

The Amtrak station in Kalamazoo has a long history dating back to the Michigan Central Railroad. (Photo by J.R. Valderas)

The staffed station in Kalamazoo underwent a year long renovation which was completed in the summer of 2006. Today, it is a fine example of historic preservation efforts, and is Michigan’s second busiest Amtrak station. It is located on the north edge of downtown, between Rose Street on the west side and Burdick Street on the east side. The large sandstone building (built in 1887) is the intermodal transit hub of Kalamazoo, and includes not only Amtrak, but Greyhound and Indian Trails bus lines, and city bus operator Kalamazoo Transportation Authority.

Metered parking is available along Burdick and Rose streets, and another metered lot is located across Rose from the station. A long term parking deck is located across Kalamazoo Street in front of the station building. Taxis are always present for train arrivals; the cab stand is located on the Rose Street side of the station.

The renovation work restored the station to much of its original grandeur. The confusing waiting room created during a 1970s renovation was restored to a more open setting, with a new wrought-iron and wood Amtrak ticket window installed at the center of the building. The bay window was restored, and original and duplicate wooden benches now grace the waiting room. A sundry and snack shop is open at the Rose Street (west) end of the building for passengers to make purchases. There is also a McDonald’s across Rose, and several other excellent but inexpensive restaurants within a short walk of the station.

The station’s only downfall is its close proximity to a local rescue mission, whose clients often drop into the station for brief periods of time. The Kalamazoo Police Department regularly has patrols through the station to keep the situation under control. Although the waiting room is much larger than just a few years ago, it can be a very busy place, and crowds often get quite large for popular trains. Station stops are often longer than normal due to the high passenger count here.

Downtown Kalamazoo has been revitalized over the past years and is full of interesting shops, restaurants, and parks. It is the home of Western Michigan University, and has such attractions as the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kalamazoo Pedestrian Mall. It is rich in history and preservation, and this is mirrored by the city’s consistent effort to maintain the beautiful station building.

Amtrak station page: