Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com


Columbus Day Evening in Michigan City

Happy Holidays everyone! I actually stayed in South Bend with my Louise instead of traveling back to New York City.I’ve finally found time for another website update, this one about an adventure to Michigan City to spend the evening rush hour as the sunset photographing South Shore Line trains running down the middle of the street, and two Amtrak Trains.

This trip I tried to do on a couple of Friday afternoons after work back in June when I had just moved to South Bend, but to bike to the Airport I really need to leave work at 4:20 (which requires using my 15 minutes of flexibility rule, which is much easier to tell colleagues about when your going somewhere far into Chicago or catching a flight and not just a quick evening trip for fun-zees) so with Columbus Day as a random day off (and not going anywhere because of a non-blogged about trip to Colorado the following weekend) and Louise busy with an evening activity it was a much better fit for a train adventure.

I left my apartment at about 4:15 for a leisurely bike ride down Lincolnway to the Airport. I get there, lock my bike up for the evening and board the 4:45 South Shore Line train-bound for Chicago. The ride is uneventful, except as we pass the yard and enter Carroll Avenue(27 Photos) I notice little white ‘W’ pennants hanging off the sides of the train cars. There to cheer on the soon to be World Champion Chicago Cubs (at that point tied in the Division Series, with a long way to go) When I get off in Michigan City its 4:20pm. I’ve gained an hour entering Central Time.

I start getting my photo essay, knowing the ticket window is open for another 10 minutes. When I try the ticket office door I realize it’s not worth it, the ticket office here is receptionist for the Accounting and Transportation Back offices that are located on the edge of the train yard (the rest of the South Shore Line offices are at the Dune Park Station), there just a few chairs like an office waiting room.


I then start walking towards downtown Michigan City, across freight tracks, first passing the overflow gravel parking lot.I can’t walk parallel to the tracks at first, there on a private ROW through vegetation but head back towards the tracks when I hear a train, it’s a lone South Shore Freight Locomotive.


I keep walking and soon get to the intersection of Michigan Blvd and 11th Street where the reason to spend 2 and a half hours in Michigan City begins, street running!


Soon the first train to pass through comes, the evening Express Train to South Bend (that runs non-stop through Michigan City)


I keep walking knowing there won’t be a train for another 20 minutes, and pass the 11th Street(73 Photos) ‘Stop’ in the middle of the street!

I continue walking west, towards the grade-crossing (where I once sat on a South Shore Line train for 10 minutes) where the Amtrak High-Speed Line to Michigan and the South Shore Line cross each other. I get the next westbound train, curving from 10th Street to 11th Street on a brief section of private ROW as I happily notice the Blue Water is running about 45 minutes late, meaning it and the first evening Wolverine (under a construction schedule) will run within 10 minutes of each other), and I’ll have perfect opportunities to photograph both of them.


I keep walking past the transition of the tracks from 11th Street to 10th Street and soon reach the level-crossing where Amtrak Michigan Service Trains pass under the South Shore Line’s wires.

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Soon I’m at the Amtrak line. Michigan City Amtrak Station(14 Photos added), gets the new Amtrak photos since the stop is close enough (I don’t have a chance to walk down there on this trip). First I get the Blue Water, going under the South Shore Line wires. It’s a long Pull-Pull train, and it and the Silver Service are the only Amtrak routes I haven’t ridden (if points runs were still a thing, you bet I would have ridden it from Niles by now).


I then walk south a little to get the Wolverine, now with just a single locomotive, and not running in push-pull anymore.


At this point I’m in a poor position for the next South Shore Line Eastbound Train (there aren’t any westbound trains except for the final one at 8:45). I end up getting it transitioning from 10th Street to 11th Street just like the previous train.


I head back towards the station, as dusk descends, getting the 6:37 train stopping in the station.


It’s then just a short wait for the 6:51 train back to South Bend.

I get on in the middle of the street (that just feels bizarre) and it’s an uneventful 45 minute ride to South Bend where I arrive basically on time at 8:39.

I put my lights on my bike and ride home.

I finally need to mention as part of this update, the first 20 photos of 11th Street are from my first visit there in 2011 (before the station had been improved by Michigan City under a streetscape improvement project) on my way to Detroit. These photos I hadn’t released before so enjoy!