New Buffalo, MI (NBU)
Early settlers were attracted by the potential for a harbor where the Galien River empties into Lake Michigan. The current downtown depot is located between the harbor and lake.
226 North Whittaker Street
New Buffalo, MI 49117
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 20,780
- Facility Ownership: N/A
- Parking Lot Ownership: N/A
- Platform Ownership: Amtrak
- Track Ownership: Amtrak
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
On October 26, 2009, the New Buffalo station opened in its new location 0.6 miles from a former Amtrak stop, with service provided by the Blue Water andWolverine Service. The station provides an open-sided roofed shelter on a concrete platform and is located downtown and one block from the Lake Michigan shore and New Buffalo harbor.
New Buffalo’s growth has been along its lakefront and downtown. Since 1984, the former station platform sat at the south side of this small town along CSX-owned tracks. Jimmy Gierczyk, a local real estate developer, approached Amtrak in 2004 and offered to construct a new platform on the Amtrak-owned trackage, at no cost to either Amtrak or the Michigan Department of Transportation, in exchange for an agreement to stop two daily trains in each direction at the new station. The city as well as Michigan DOT and other political entities supported this proposal. Groundbreaking took place in November 2008 and concrete was poured in the spring of 2009.
The ongoing maintenance of the station is done by the city. The developer also set aside new parking spaces dedicated to the station. Since the 2009 opening of the new New Buffalo station, service has been increased to six daily trains, four Wolverines and the Blue Water.
The developer has built condominiums close to the site of the new station, intending to create attractive residences for people wishing to commute into Chicago, only an hour and forty-five minutes away—which would be reached even more quickly once higher-speed trains begin running. New Buffalo is located on a federally designated high speed corridor.
When this station opened, the Pere Marquette Service stopped serving New Buffalo and now operates without scheduled stops between St. Joseph, Michigan, and Chicago. Obsolete signage from the former station was donated to the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, across the highway from where Amtrak trains stopped in New Buffalo from 1984 to 2009.
In the late 17th century the St. Joseph River was explored by Father Jacques Marquette, opening the area to other European traders and eventually settlers. In 1834, Captain Wessel D. Whittaker’s ship Post Boy ran aground in a November storm near present-day Grand Beach. On his way to St. Joseph to report the loss, he saw the area at the mouth of the Galien River where it empties into Lake Michigan, and envisioned a harbor to rival his home port of Buffalo, N.Y.—and went to Kalamazoo to purchase the land. He returned the next year with $13,000 in investments, as well as friends and relatives, to develop the area. In 1836, New Buffalo incorporated as a village.
The harbor was not actually developed for commercial use in the 19th century. However, the railroad provided the necessary commerce that shipping did not bring to this farming community. The Michigan Central Railroad came through, terminating the line in New Buffalo in 1849. This terminal between Detroit and Chicago encouraged the growth of hotels and saloons in the town. However, this boom only lasted until 1853, when the Michigan Central completed the line to Chicago.
The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad built through in 1869, on what would become the present-day CSX tracks. In 1882, the Chicago and West Michigan Railway came through, and this was one of three railways that would be consolidated into the Pere Marquette Railway, which was incorporated in 1900 and began running through New Buffalo in 1903. (The Pere Marquette Railway has since been succeeded by CSX Transportation.) Passenger service ceased in 1971, but in 1984, Amtrak began running the Pere Marquette Service between Grand Rapids and Chicago, with financial support provided by the Michigan DOT.
Isaac O. Smith, in 1893, turned a portion of his lakeside farm into a resort for travelers to Chicago’s grand Columbian Exhibition; and in 1903, the Congregational Assembly for Bible students began a trend of creating summer camps in the township. As early as 1911, the Grand Beach area became a popular summer resort area. Growth of the Pere Marquette in the 1920s made that railway a major employer in New Buffalo until the late 1940s. Tourism from Chicagoans, however, became increasingly important to the town’s economy. With the increasing use of the automobile, the state built its first tourist center in the town in 1934, calling it the “Gateway to Michigan.”
In 1947, the first marina facilities opened, but it was not until the 1960s—when Paul Oselka began dredging the harbor and the channel to it—that the safe harbor became a reality. Today the town provides a large, modern refuge harbor, and around-the-clock public boat launch, and a full service transient dock facility. Sport fishing and the city beach and lakefront park, along with the Sima nature preserve provide other attractions. Additionally, in 2007 the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation opened the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo making the town even more of a vacation destination.
The New Buffalo Railroad Museum, established in 1989, occupies a replica of the original Pere Marquette depot, close by the site of the former station.
The Blue Water and Wolverine Service are financed primarily through funds made available by the Michigan State Department of Transportation. Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the New Buffalo station, which is served by six daily trains.
- 25 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 25 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking
- Wheelchair Lift