Waterloo, IN (WTI)
When landowner Miles Waterman refused the honor of having the settlement named for him, the name morphed into "Waterloo City." The 1883 wooden depot features history displays.
485 West Van Vleek Street
Waterloo, IN 46793
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 20,515
- Facility Ownership: Town of Waterloo
- Parking Lot Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Platform Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Track Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Like many frontier towns, Waterloo was a product of the railroad. Newly laid tracks gave local people access to larger markets, and settlements like Waterloo became locations for shipping and trade. The town is one of the busiest stops in Indiana, as it is the primary station for passengers from Ft. Wayne.
On June 24, 2016, town officials were joined by representatives from Amtrak and the office of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly to cut the ribbon on Waterloo’s upgraded intercity passenger rail station. The event marked the completion of a 10-year project to restore the community’s historic 1883 New York Central (NYC) depot and make it the centerpiece of the busy station. In 2010, Waterloo won a $1.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to support creation of an enhanced passenger facility. The town ultimately chose to relocate the historic depot – then used for community events – approximately 700 feet west to the southeast corner of Center and Van Vleek Streets, adjacent to the existing Amtrak platform.
It houses a passenger waiting area while still retaining space for community functions. A volunteer “Friends of the Depot” group coordinated the furnishings and created displays related to the depot and town. In addition to minor building renovations, the larger station project included construction of a paved parking lot, sidewalks and accessible walkways, as well as installation of ornamental street lighting, fencing, benches and landscaping. Next to the station is a park and playground that also benefit from the new parking area and landscaping.
In conjunction with the depot celebration, the town also dedicated its new town hall on the same day. Both projects are officially endorsed “Legacy Projects” of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration. Residents and visitors were invited to attend open houses and enjoy refreshments at both sites. Live music and a railroad history presentation were also offered at the depot.
The historic depot was constructed by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, which was later incorporated into the NYC. Since Waterloo was small, the railroad constructed a simple rectangular wood building typical of Victorian-era stations. The original layout included separate waiting rooms for men and women, an office for the ticket agent and telegrapher, and a small freight area.
The building’s exterior is covered in vertical board and batten wood siding painted a soft green. The doors are topped with transoms to allow for the flow of air, an important consideration in the days before air conditioning. Wood window and door surrounds feature stylized pediments, and currently these surfaces are all painted a deep, rich green. Simple curved brackets support the gabled roof. One end of the depot has a set of double wood doors that lead to the former freight room; photographs from the early 20th century show hand wagons parked nearby that were used to load and unload goods from the trains.
Historic images also reveal that trackside there was once a projecting three-sided bay, but it was destroyed during a derailment in 1957. From its windows, the depot master would have had a good view down the tracks in order to monitor traffic on the rails. In 1984 the depot was moved approximately 1,000 feet east of its original location to save it from demolition by the freight railroad. Refurbished to serve as a community center, the interior walls were hung with historic photos and articles about local history.
In 2005, Waterloo won a $420,350 Transportation Enhancement grant through the Federal Highway Administration to restore the NYC depot; the town matched the federal funds with $152,819. Over the next six years, an additional $100,754 was raised to support the project. Work included replacement of the roof, windows and doors, and rotten wood on the exterior; repainting of the exterior to seal the wood against the elements; repairs to the interior floors, ceilings and walls; and installation of ADA compliant restrooms.
Although the state legislature chartered a railroad in 1838 to run from Indiana’s eastern boundary to Michigan City, Mich., via South Bend, nothing immediately came of this effort. By 1850, the Michigan Southern Railroad had built a line from Toledo, Ohio, to Hillsdale, Mich., only a few miles distant from the northeast border of Indiana. Michigan Southern hoped to proceed to Chicago but needed to build through Indiana to do so and thus the Northern Indiana Railroad was formed to continue the work.
The two companies immediately consolidated to create the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railway (MS&NI) and construction commenced towards the southwest to Elkhart, South Bend, and finally on to Chicago. Years later, the MS&NI consolidated with the Lake Shore Railroad, providing a connection to Buffalo, New York and points further east though Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central Railroad. By 1914, the Lake Shore and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad merged to form the “new” New York Central Railroad.
The later construction of the MS&NI Air Line—a straighter and more direct set of tracks running from Toledo to Elkhart—through DeKalb County gave impetus to the establishment of a number of small towns including Waterloo which was platted in 1856. Years later, the local Waterloo Press recalled that the first passenger office was a boxcar placed to the side of the track.
Waterloo was named after Miles Waterman who owned land on both sides of the tracks. Waterman platted the land and early settlers wished to honor him by naming the town “Waterman”; he refused, and the name morphed into Waterloo City. The town was actually the second community established in the area. In 1838, an early pioneer built a small shanty on the north bank of Cedar Creek. Other settlers were attracted to the site on their way west, as the county was described “….as generally undulating, and with the exception of a few wet prairies, covered mostly with heavy timber.” Sparsely settled, the area provided opportunities for land ownership. The small village, called Uniontown, grew and a saw mill was constructed; farmers raised wheat, corn, oats, and grasses. With the founding of Waterloo close to the tracks, much of the older settlement shifted to the south of Cedar Creek and Uniontown became a suburb.
The railroad town prospered, sporting a brick yard, pottery, and grist and saw mills. The nearby discovery in 1888 of a nearly complete mastodon skeleton elicited much excitement, as did the start of interurban service to Ft. Wayne via Garrett in 1906. On a cool evening in 1911, Waterloo was struck by a strong tornado which destroyed the Opera House that held the city hall, public school rooms, and the fire department. The strength of the storm overturned freight cars and as a local reporter wrote, “Residences in all parts of the little village are more or less damaged, some of them having turned completely on one side…roofs were torn off…while livestock of all sort, ran wild through the streets…” Luckily, no one was seriously hurt and the town rebuilt, as evidenced by the completion of a new Carnegie-funded library in 1913. Built of brown brick and topped with a red tiled roof, the large arched entry welcomed readers and confirmed Waterloo’s devotion to the popular Progressive ideas of education and community betterment.
The small hamlet still hosts a busy rail freight corridor that is now under Norfolk Southern ownership; rail buffs like to watch the passing trains from the Amtrak platform. In recent years, nearby I-69 has become more than just a transporter of cars—it is now also a path upon which dreams and heritage flow. Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI), a partnership between Indiana University’s Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department and the Indiana Arts Commission, works with communities linked by the road to support their abundance of traditional craftsmen and artisans—everyone from beekeepers to luthiers.
TAI strives to document, promote, and present the region’s arts and artists to a wider audience. By examining Indiana’s cultural heritage, it is hoped that the people of the state will better appreciate their past and present; the opportunities for cultural tourism are also explored. Waterloo has become known for its “Depot Jam,” in which local musicians gather at the old NYC depot and together play and create country and folk music. The informal group uses their “Waterloo Depot play book” to organize and catalog their repertoire.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station which is served by four daily trains.
- 10 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 80 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Pay Phones
- Wheelchair Lift