If you're looking for train action, make sure to stop by the Amtrak station on
Capital Avenue, right across the street from the Kellogg Arena. There are
roughly 50 trains a day on the CN tracks- 8 Amtraks, 3 NS, and the rest are CN.
Lots of "foreign power" works between Chicago and Battle Creek, plus the usual
CN/IC/WC/GT stuff. Best times are 7am-11am and early evening.
As already suggested there's lots of action at the Amtrak station downtown.
Good hobby shops are pretty much non-existent. The only one that carries
anything train related is Meyer Toy World on the north side of town, but
unless you're looking for older HAM, Riva, or Athearn items it's not worth
your time. I've heard there's a club hiding in town somewhere but I've
never actually seen evidence of it. Inquiries a few years ago at some local
shops came up with nothing.
As for the Kellogg experience, there is Cereal City USA in downtown that has
a simulated cereal factory inside. It's not too cheesy but I think they
have limited hours of operation.
Train-wise, if you can manage to sneak into the CN's Battle Creek yard, there's
always a bunch of power on hand (I'm not advocating trespassing though). NS's
Hinman Yard is just south of there, with a neat corn syrup transloading
facility on-site. The yard office would make any Conrail fan proud- built in
the mid-80s, solid brick, with a brick Conrail sign in front. Nice place;
Lots of KELX boxcars in the vicinity, along with ADM and Corn Products corn
syrup tank cars.
I've not been through there recently, but are the old Grand Trunk
Western steam/Diesel shops still there? I haven't heard that they'd been
torn down. It's an impressive big old RR building. The last time I was
in there, about twenty years back, they were still doing lots of heavy
Diesel repairs. I don't know what's happened since the CN-NA
reorganization of GTW.
They also had a bunch of big steam powered ventilating fans, etc. in
operation inside the shop. Several big one cylinder horizontal steam
engines driving room-sized 'squirrel-cage' fans. They had lots of steam,
for other purposes, so it was economical to operate this antique
machinery. The steam fans were located up in the 'attic' of the shop, at
about the level of the top of the bridge-crane beam-rails. The upper
levels were also great places to look down on the whole shop below.
In the 'good old days' you could often talk your way into the place,
look around, and take photos. I suppose that's a lot harder to do today.
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