Rail Fanning in Indiana - Help

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  • Member since
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Rail Fanning in Indiana - Help
Posted by TrainMom02 on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 11:06 AM


My son, who is 12, would like to go rail fanning through Indiana, or at least somewhere in Indiana.  
He has a special love for heritage units, so I wasn't sure if there was a good place to catch more of those types of trains.  

We are from Marion, so we live at Union Station for the most part.  

He isn't interested in touring museums or riding a train.  He wants to find the best spots to watch and document what he sees.  I'm just the wallet and chauffeur.  LOL

Any help would be greatly appreciated!  
Thank you!

Tags: Indiana
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 6:52 PM

In Marion you look to be realtively centrally located to a lot of Main Line rail operations.

CSX has a large footpring in Indianapolis.  CSX & NS both operate through Layfayette.  NS has a major hump facility in Elkhart.  Garrett was once a B&O Division Point in the days before CSX.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!


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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 7:11 PM

Tons of opportunities - and even some cams that may interest him, if he can't get out of the house, if you will.

You're two hours from Deshler, OH, crossroads of the B&O, and on the CSX "Chicago Line." Fifty trains a day, at least.  Twenty miles east is Fostoria, OH and their Iron Triangle, involving trains from both CSX and NS.

Trains travelling E-W on CSX travel through Garrett, north of Fort Wayne, which also sees NS and is home to the Fort Wayne Historical Society (and NKP 765).  A jaunt up to Elkhart will net a museum (NYC) and the busy NS Chicago Line - complete with a platform from which to watch.

I know you mentioned he isn't interested in museums, but the two I noted are worth the time if you're going to make a day of it.

While there are several outfits running rail cams around the country, I favor Virtual Railfan.  Trains also sponsors several cams. The subscription for VR is minimal.  Indiana cams include Elkhart and Princeton, and there are cams in IL and OH.  And lots of others.

Heritage units are running all over the country, often as "run through" power well off their home rails.  It's always a treat to catch one, but they are far from predictable.

I'm sure others will have more suggestions for you.

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 7:59 PM

I don't have anything to add, but this thread brings back memories from when I was a teen.  My Mom worked for Detroit Public Schools and was friends with the lady who scheduled driver training classes.  People like me, who went to a Catholic school, were in last place.  Mom used her connection to get me a class 6-8 months before I turned 16.  I got my learners permit and she would regularly let me drive her by the engine facilities at Junction Yd, Rougemere and Oakwood.  I was a confirmed X2200S person back then, so it was great. I witnessed the changeover from PC to Conrail and became a very good, safe driver, due to her guidance.

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Posted by ns145 on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 8:35 PM

I would recommend Peru, IN which is close Marion and a relatively busy spot on Norfolk Southern's ex-Wabash line where trains stop to change crews.  There is a local railfan who frequently posts videos in and around Peru.  Your son may enjoy watching them.  The videos contain Google Earth images of the various locations used to film the trains, which you might find very helpful. The Youtube channel link is: 

I also have a Flickr contact who lives in Marion and has posted lots of photos in your area.  His photostream can be accessed here:

  • Member since
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  • From: Valparaiso, In
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Posted by MP173 on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 8:48 PM

Chesterton (Porter) is a busy junction with four lines.  The main NS line from Chicago to Elkhart and beyond will see 70 or more NS, Canadian Pacific, and Amtrak trains.  The Amtrak Michigan line diverts at Porter and sees 8 Amtraks plus an NS local.  The CSX line also branches off 100 yards east of the Amtrak line and will see 2 CSX freights, 2 Amtraks, and typically a couple of coal trains with BNSF power.

Want more trains?  Head north a couple of miles to the South Shore where the electric commuter trains run (probably 30 per day).

There is a Chesterton web cam on Railstream which you can access free of charge.  A slight fee of $8 per month allows radio access plus a number of locations.

Marion is about 2.5 hours from Chesterton.


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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, June 1, 2023 10:05 AM

I would hold off on South Shore east of Gary for now.  Bus substitution is in place due to the Gary-Michigan City double-tracking project and the elimination of street running in Michigan City.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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