Lafayette, IN (LAF)
Built in 1902 by the “Big Four” Railroad, the depot was relocated and renovated in the mid-1990s. It now includes a passenger waiting room and community and commercial spaces.
200 North Second Street
Lafayette, IN 47901
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 18,391
- Facility Ownership: City of Lafayette (IN)
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Lafayette (IN)
- Platform Ownership: CSXT
- Track Ownership: CSXT
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Romanesque style brick “Big Four” depot was built in 1902 by the Buckeye Chum Company for the Lake Erie & Western and Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (the Big Four) Railroads. This well-landscaped restored station sits opposite the bank of the Wabash River, directly beside a city park. The brick and limestone building served as a train station until about 1970. It was partially restored in 1979 and given to the city of Lafayette in 1983.
The Big Four depot was relocated to the site from an address three blocks away in 1994. The 550-ton building was placed on 18 sets of wheeled dollies and rolled to the site over the better part of four days. Renovation was completed in 1995 and the depot was rededicated as the centerpiece of the James F. Riehle Plaza. The depot is open for plaza events and has meeting rooms for rent. The interior has been modernized and utilizes two levels, with track access on the lower level and the plaza entrance on the upper level.
When Amtrak trains began using the facility on January 4, 1996, it was first time Amtrak passengers traveling to and from Lafayette had the benefit of a waiting room in an actual railroad station. It was a major step toward completion of the Lafayette Railroad Relocation Project, a more than $170 million joint federal-state-local effort to end the practice of trains and motor vehicles sharing a 14-block stretch of Fifth Street in Lafayette.
Since the practice of “street-running” ended with the Amtrak train down Fifth Street on July 22, 1994, passengers used a temporary platform at Second and Alabama Streets. Previously, various Fifth Street storefronts were utilized.
Although the city of Lafayette first began discussing railroad relocation in 1926, the first federal funding for engineering of the relocation did not come until 1975. Environmental studies and hearings lasted until 1979 and federal officials approved the final design in 1981. Construction began in 1986, with phases completed in 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995.
Amtrak passengers cross above the rail line on an elevated pedestrian bridge, which provides access to the Amtrak waiting shelter on the west side. Other features of Riehle Plaza include a brick-paved gathering place and public open space, a fountain, landscaped green space and a textured concrete wall to provide visual and sound screening from the tracks.
The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway, also known as the Monon Railway, also served Lafayette, specifically Purdue University in West Lafayette. Founded in 1847 as the New Albany and Salem Railroad, the Monon (deriving from a Potawatomi Indian word for “swift running”) provided service from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River by 1853. The route map formed a tilted “X” over Indiana, the main line taking freight and passengers from Chicago to Louisville, and another branch connecting Michigan City and Indianapolis. A small spur also linked Orleans and French Lick. Purdue University was situated in Lafayette in 1869 specifically because the city was lying on the Monon Line. Monon discontinued passenger service in 1967, and became part of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1971. CSX still operates most of the remaining Monon tracks.
The Lafayette station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Lafayette station received a new wheelchair lift and enclosure as well as new accessible parking stall paint markings and signage.
The area in what would become Tippecanoe County was first inhabited by a tribe of the Miami people known as the Ouiatenon. The first European settlement came in 1717 when the French established Fort Ouiatenon, a trading post, across the Wabash River and south of present-day Lafayette.
American settlement came when river trader William Digby platted the town in May 1825; the town was made the seat of Tippecanoe County the next year. This small frontier town was named, like many others, for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French military hero and American ally during the American Revolutionary War who was touring America at the time. Lafayette was sited and became a significant seat of commerce because it was the northernmost navigable point on the Wabash River by steamboat.
Lafayette lies southwest of the Tippecanoe Battlefield, which is at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers. The battle fought in that wooded peninsula on November 11, 1811, proved to be not only the beginning of the end of the Native American possession of the fertile Midwestern lands, but also, in some ways, the beginning of the War of 1812. This battle, won by then-governor of Indiana William Henry Harrison (later U.S. President), was a critical event in Tecumseh’s Rebellion, a conflict between the United States and an American Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, in that it largely broke the Confederation. In 1908, the Indiana legislature moved to preserve the battlefield and erected a monument there.
The Wabash and Erie Canal, which was built through Lafayette by 1843, was a combination of four canals that reached from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, 460 miles—the longest canal ever built in America. Lafayette lies along the Wabash River section.
Purdue University, in West Lafayette, was founded on May 6, 1869 as a land-grant university when the Indiana General Assembly, taking advantage of the Morrill Act, accepted a donation of land and money from Lafayette businessman John Purdue to establish a college of science, technology and agriculture in his name. The first classes were held in 1874. Today, Purdue is the second largest university in Indiana, a prestigious and well-known university offering over 200 major areas of study and both graduate and undergraduate programs.
Lafayette was the site of the first official air mail delivery in the United States, which took place on August 17, 1859, when John Wise piloted a balloon lifting off from the Lafayette courthouse grounds. Wise hoped to reach New York; however, weather conditions forced the balloon down near Crawfordsville, Ind., and the mail reached its final destination by train. In 1959, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 7 cent airmail stamp commemorating the centennial of the event.
This is one of two “Lafayettes” on the Amtrak map, with Lafayette, Louisiana, on the route of the Amtrak Sunset Limited.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station. Between the Hoosier State and Cardinal, Lafayette is served by two daily trains. The Hoosier State is financed primarily through funds made available by the Indiana Department of Transportation and communities along the route.
- 10 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Elevator Accessible
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Short Term Parking Spaces
- Wheelchair Lift