Tag Archives: Wolverine

Dearborn (DER)

John D. Dingell Transit Center
21201 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, MI 48124

Street side view. Photo by Steve Sobel.
Street side view. Photo by Steve Sobel.

In December 2014, the Dearborn station moved approximately one mile west on Michigan Ave to a brand new facility.

Dearborn waiting area. Photo by Steve Sobel.
Dearborn waiting area. Photo by Steve Sobel.

The new station is staffed and it serves as model for what a modern station should look and function like in the state of Michigan. It has adequate parking and it is one of the busiest stations in the state.  It is safe to leave cars here for extended periods of time. Taxis are generally on hand for all train arrivals. Both DDOT and SMART have routes along Michigan Avenue. A bicycle path begins across the street from the station, weaves through the University of Michigan Dearborn Campus before linking to Hines Park and many suburbs in western Metro Detroit.

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.

Dearborn is the home of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Co., which dominates the local economy. Ford’s World Headquarters building is less than a mile away.

Dearborn’s Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is a world class historical attraction and it has an entrance and walkway on the south side of the station.

There is ample hotel and motel rooms in the vicinity as well as a major regional shopping center, Fairlane Towne Center nearby.

Amtrak station page:

013 20141226 The first sunny day in weeks, train353 rolls into Dearborn Transit Ctr. Steve T. Sobel, photo

Detroit (DET)

11 West Baltimore Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202

(Photos by J.R. Valderas)

The staffed Detroit station is located in the New Center area of the city, on Woodward Avenue at the corner of Baltimore Street. This is two blocks south of Grand Boulevard and three blocks north of I-94. The current Amtrak station building was constructed in the mid-1990s and is in very good shape considering the heavy passenger traffic. The staff keeps the waiting room clean, and MARP volunteers maintain the exterior landscaping. There are no vending machines, but a White Castle is located directly across Woodward.

Parking at the station is available and is quite safe. Nearby metered street parking is not enforced on weekends, but is vigorously enforced on weekdays. A taxicab stand on Baltimore has cabs on hand when trains arrive.

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.

Woodward Avenue has very frequent bus service provided 24 hours a day. Both suburban SMART and city of Detroit DOT have bus lines on Woodward Avenue. DDOT coaches only operate in the city of Detroit and have yellow and green stripes. SMART coaches can pick you up or drop you off in the city (but not both), and have orange and red stripes. Fares for both systems are $1.50, and a transfer is $.25; transfers are valid on both bus lines’ routes. Exact change required. Contact SMART at (866) 962-5515 or DDOT at (888) 336-8287 for scheduling and route information.

Within walking distance there are plenty of interesting shops, the St. Regis Hotel and the Fisher Theatre. A short bus ride south on Woodward will take you to Detroit’s Cultural Center, a hub of interesting attractions. The main branch of the Detroit Public Library is here, including its outstanding collection of literature, and the famous Burton Historical Collection, home of rare maps, old photographs, Great Lakes regional history resources, and one of the largest genealogical collections in the country. Across from the Library is the Detroit Institute of Arts, which recently completed an impressive renovation/expansion and has a world famous collection. Just down the block is the Detroit Historical Museum, showcasing the history of this tri-centennial city. Three streets away from the Art Institute is the Museum of African-American History, the nation’s largest. If you continue another two miles on the bus, you’ll reach the entertainment district and the core of Detroit’s Downtown. Here you’ll find entertainment venues such as the Fox Theatre and Detroit Opera House, and sports stadiums for the Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park) and Detroit Lions (Ford Field). The downtown area is also home to Campus Martius Park, and the recently opened Detroit Riverwalk.

Detroit has undergone a steady revitalization over the past several years, and is more of a destination that many people will admit.

Amtrak station page:

Jackson (JXN)

501 E. Michigan Avenue
Jackson, MI 49201

Wolverine at Jackson MI
Amtrak's Wolverine, train #350, arrives at the Jackson Michigan station. (Photo by Nathan Nietering.)
Jackson Station Painting
A painting inside the station depicts the type of Amtrak locomotive which ran on the line in 1976. (Photo by Nathan Nietering)

One of the oldest continuously operating passenger stations in the nation, the staffed Jackson station was built in 1876 and is nothing short of an architectural gem. The interior of the station was restored for the country’s Bicentennial, and removal of layers of old paint revealed gorgeous woodwork underneath, which was restored. Note the etched glass at the ticket window; it’s original, as are the wooden benches.

The depot’s location near the very center of town makes it easy to access from all directions. There are about 15 free parking spaces in front of the station. If this lot is full, more parking is available in the lot on the east side of the building. Although the station is staffed by an agent, he goes off duty at 4:00PM, and the waiting room is locked after that time. Still, the Jackson station is one of the few in the state that has a canopy over the boarding platform, which saves riders from having to drag their luggage through the slush and snow of Michigan winters. In nice weather, the platform can be a pleasant place to wait for an arriving train.

Jackson was up until recently a major railroad town, and still is home to an important railroad yard today. In the summer, railroad retirees often sit out on the platform to watch the trains roll past. They are usually excellent encyclopedias of railroad facts and lore and can be very pleasant conversationalists.

The station bulletin is the same style used by the New York Central railroad when it operated the station. (Photo by Nathan Nietering)

There is a soft drink vending machine in the station, and if anything more substantial is required, a decent coney island (short order restaurant) is located just next door. The area is served by the Jackson Transportation Authority; their buses operate along Michigan Avenue. Taxi phone numbers posted inside the station.

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: