Historic Bike Tour Stop 21 : "Big 4" Railroad Marker 

Big 4 Station-1898
Photo showing a crowd outside the "Big 4" Railroad Depot in 1898. The “Big 4” railroad depot was located in what is today Riverfront Park. 

In 1848 Michigan Central (MCRR) built the first railroad line through Niles. Passenger service on this line ran mostly between Detroit and Chicago. In 1892, the MCRR opened the grand Romanesque depot still standing near the corner of 5th and Dey Streets. 

In 1882 the Elkhart, Niles and Lake Michigan Railroad built another line running from Niles to Granger, Indiana. They were then bought out by the Cincinnati, Wabash and Michigan Railway, who extended the line north to Benton Harbor.  In 1890, the “Big Four” (The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis) Railroad bought the line.  In 1930, the Big Four merged with the New York Central. The line was later part of the Conrail system. Passenger service from Niles to Benton Harbor on the "Big 4" stopped in the early 1930s, but freight service continued until the early 1980s. In 1993 the last part of the line (going between Niles and South Bend) closed.

The “Big 4” railroad depot was located in present-day Riverfront Park. 

Today, the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail occupies the former "Big 4" Railroad corridor through Niles. 

Train Horse
This bridge, going over the St. Joseph River on the north end of what is
now Riverfront Park, was built for the Michigan Central Railroad. 
Improvements have been made to the bridge over time, but it is still used today. 

Postcard of the 2nd Street tunnel 

The 2nd Street tunnel goes under the railroad bridge jus
t east of here, near the intersection of Wayne and North 2nd Streets.