Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis’

Fire Destroys Storage Buildings at Beech Grove Shops

May 3, 2021

Two storage buildings at Amtrak’s Beech Grove Heavy Maintenance Facility in suburban Indianapolis were destroyed by fire on Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called just after 12:30 a.m. and had the blazes under control by 2 a.m. No injuries were reported and no cause of the fire has yet been released.

The corrugated buildings were used to store paint and cleaning supplies.

Lack of a working fire hydrant on the Amtrak property hindered firefighting efforts, forcing firefighters to run hoses from nearby Emerson Avenue and use tanker trucks for water supply.

Video of the scene shows P40 No. 822 in its Phase III livery parked outside the buildings where the fire occurred.

B&O Two for Tuesday

January 26, 2021

The wayback machine has landed us in Indianapolis on Dec. 29, 1972, at the Baltimore & Ohio engine terminal. While there we check out a pair of GP30s, Nos. 6941 and 6912.

The B&O had a secondary branch line operation in Indy. To the east it ran to Hamilton, Ohio, where it joined the mainline between Cincinnati and Toledo. This route is still used today by CSX and hosts Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal.

To the west the line ran to Springfield, Illinois. That line is abandoned west of Indianapolis and in Hendricks County the right of way has been converted to a hiking and biking trail named after the B&O.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Street Project to Expose Indy Streetcar Tracks

December 13, 2020

A street rehabilitation project in downtown Indianapolis will expose and lead to the removal of streetcar tracks that have been long buried beneath the pavement.

The tracks are beneath Delaware Street between Maryland and Vermont streets.

The project is a joint venture between public transit agency IndyGo and the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works.

As part of the work, Indygo will install what it describes as super-stops featuring enhanced waiting areas, ticketing vending machines, security cameras, and accessible platforms.

Catching Train SAHW on the Indiana Rail Road

September 25, 2020

Indiana Rail Road train SAHW rounds the curve in Morgantown, Indiana. The railroad’s SD90MACs feature a striking red-based livery.

If you are unfamiliar with the Indiana Rail Road, perhaps the best train to chase is SAHW, a daily except Saturday run from Indianapolis (Senate Avenue Yard) to Jasonville (Hiawatha Yard).

The crew is called at Senate Avenue at 2 p.m. and the train leaves town around 2:30 p.m.

There are numerous locations to photograph the line, including the fabled Tulip Trestle in rural Greene County where the SAHW usually arrives about 5 p.m.

It was on that trestle that I first encountered the SAHW in early August.

I had been out day with two other guys and in true pandemic railfanning fashion we all drove our own vehicles.

One of the guys had a contact at the INRD and had found out what trains would be operating and when.

By the time we got to Tulip Trestle we had already seen four other INRD trains.

The normal operating procedure is for the SAHW to meet its counterpart the HWSA at Switz City.

So if you hang around Tulip Trestle after catching the SAHW, you should get the HWSA an hour or so later.

Both trains are typically pulled by two-unit sets of SD9043MACs painted in an attractive red and white livery.

The trains also carry double-stacked containers that INRD interchanges with Canadian National and which travel between Indianapolis and the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia for export.

The containers are interchanged between INRD and CN in Newton, Illinois. Every time I’ve seen the HWSA there has been a long string of containers so this business must be fairly robust.

The INRD line between Indianapolis and Newton is a former Illinois Central branch line that was in danger of being abandoned before the INRD acquired it in 1986.

Another good place to photograph the SAHW is in Bargersville. The tracks come through the middle of town in a wide swath of right of way and there is public parking on the west side next to the tracks.

There are even grain facilities to use as photo backdrops.

I’m still getting to know the INRD and where there are good photo locations, but things are off to a promising start.

Of course I wasn’t thinking that the first time I tried to catch the SAHW in Bargersville.

I arrived by 2:30 p.m. and had been told that the train should pass through around 3:15 p.m. I waited, and waited and waited, finally giving up at 4 p.m.

I would later learn that something had gone wrong that day and the SAHW didn’t get out of Senate Avenue Yard until 5 p.m.

My luck with the train since then has been much better.

If you just want to see the SAHW you can always enjoy a brew or two along with a meal on the deck of Taxman Brewing Company in Bargerville in mid afternoon next to the INRD tracks. Expect the train to arrive shortly after 3 p.m.

Crossing on Tulip Trestle in Greene County.

Passing through Morgantown, Indiana, located 30 miles south of Indianapolis.


Getting a bonus in Bargersville. The SAHW passes a work train with an SD40-2 and a CSX Jordan spreader that is sitting on a siding for the weekend.

Bargersville features a grain elevator to use as a backdrop.

$100M Grant to Benefit South Shore

May 30, 2020

A $100 million federal grant is expected to be given to the Northern Indiana Commuter District for development of the West Lake Corridor.

The 8-mile line between Hammond and Dyer would enable the South Shore Line to provide rail commuter service on a new route using in part a former Monon Railroad right of way.

South Shore President Michael Noland  expressed gratitude for the support of the Federal Transit Administration for the project.

FTA is also expected to award a small starts grant for construction of a bus rapid transit line in Indianapolis. That project is expected to cost $155 million.

Jingle Rails

December 24, 2019

I have long associated Christmas with model railroad displays. That association goes back to my early childhood when my mom would take my sister and I to St. Louis on a New York Central passenger train for a visit with our grandparents.

Aside from the train ride, a highlight of the visit was riding the bus downtown and looking at the holiday displays at the department stores, one of which was a large model railroad layout.

I had a chance recently to somewhat recreate that tradition by paying a visit to the Jingle Rails exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis.

This annual event features a G scale model railroad layout with nine trains snaking past such Western icons as grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made—Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam.

Of course the trains also pass such Indianapolis institutions as Monument Circle, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Union Station, Lucas Oil Stadium, and Sales Force Tower. The latter is the tallest building in Indy.

Some of the railroads plying the rails are fictitious, but two of the trains feature the Santa Fe. The exhibit will be running through Jan. 20.

Train Show, Model RR Open House set in Indy, Michigan

December 4, 2019

If you looking to get out of the house for a road trip this weekend and don’t mind doing some driving, there will be railfan events in Indiana and Michigan to visit.

The Naptown & White River Train Show and December Open House will be held in Indianapolis between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Emmerich Manual High School, 2405 S. Madison Ave.

There will be more than 100 tables of merchandise from Z to G scale, plus operating layouts and diorama exhibits.

The clubhouse layout will also be open to the public at 1115 McDougal St. in Indianapolis.

There will be door prizes and refreshments available. The event is wheelchair accessible and has free parking.

Admission is $5 to the train show but the open house is free. For more information visit

In Blissfield, Michigan, the Blissfield Model Railroad will hold an open house on Saturday at the club’s facility at 109 E. Adrian St.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission charge but donations are appreciated.

The HO scale layout is set in the Appalachian Mountain region of Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The layout features centralized traffic control and working block signals.

The club models the Chesapeake & Ohio and Clinchfield railroads in the 1950s and 1960s, featuring Centralized Traffic Control and working signals.

The open house will be repeated on Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22. For more information visit

One December Day on the B&O in Indianapolis

October 13, 2019

Indianapolis was a small but not insignificant terminal on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

The B&O’s route to the capital and largest city in Indiana extended from Hamilton, Ohio, where it connected with the Cincinnati-Toledo mainline, to Springfield, Illinois, on the west.

The line had some significant industrial traffic in Indianapolis and at the Illinois cities of Decatur and Springfield. There also was substantial agricultural traffic.

The B&O’s yard and engine terminal in Indy was located on the east side of town where the scene above was made there on Dec. 29, 1972.

The view is pure B&O and has a timeless quality to it. But nothing on the railroad ever stays exactly the same.

CSX still operates the former B&O route from Indianapolis to Hamilton, which is also used by Amtrak’s tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal.

But the ex-B&O west of the city has been abandoned with portions of it in Hendricks County having been converted to a hike and bike trail.

Some segments of the B&O line that served Indianapolis are still in place in Illinois east of Decatur and in far western Indiana. Today they are served by short line Decatur & Eastern Illinois.

CSX also operates a small portion of the former B&O at Rochdale, Indiana, to serve a grain elevator complex with unit trains.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Hanging With the Hoosier State in its Final Week

August 11, 2019

Boarding has begun for the Chicago-bound Hoosier State on June 25 at Indianapolis Union Station.

By the time I arrived in Indianapolis Amtrak’s Hoosier State had just one week left to live.

I would experience No. 851 three times before it made its final trip on June 30, riding it once and photographing it trackside twice.

I had ridden the Hoosier State several times but not since August 1991.

Interestingly, my purpose for riding the Hoosier State nearly 28 years later would be the same as why I rode it in 1991.

I was moving and needed to go back to my former hometown to pick up a car and drive it to my new hometown.

In 1991 I had driven from Indianapolis to State College, Pennsylvania. In 2019 I drove from Cleveland to Indianapolis.

Boarding of No. 851 began shortly after I arrived at Indianapolis Union Station on the morning of June 25.

I was the second passenger to board the Horizon fleet coach to which most Indy passengers were assigned. The car was about two-thirds full.

The consist also included an Amfleet coach, an Amfleet food service car and two P42DC locomotives, Nos. 77 and 55.

We departed on time but a few minutes later received a penalty application near CP Holt that required a conversation with the CSX PTC desk.

We would later encounter a delay between Crawfordsville and Lafayette due to signal issues.

Yet there was no freight train interference en route that I observed. We stopped briefly in Chicago so a Metra train could go around us.

That was probably because we were early. We halted at Chicago Union Station 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

I had heard the former Monon can be rough riding, but I didn’t think it was any worse than other Amtrak routes I’ve ridden.

There wasn’t any of the abrupt sideways jerking that I’ve experienced on other Amtrak trains.

The journey did seem to be slow going at times, particularly through the CSX yard in Lafayette; on the former Grand Trunk Western west of Munster, Indiana; through the Union Pacific yard on the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois; and within Chicago proper.

Overall, the experience was much the same as riding any other Amtrak Midwest corridor train although it featured an entrance into Chicago that I had not experienced before in daylight.

The crew said nothing about it being the last week of operation for Nos. 850 and 851.

My next encounter with the Hoosier State came in Lafayette on June 28.

No. 851 arrived on time with a more typical consist that included cars being ferried from Beach Grove shops to Chicago.

These included a Superliner sleeping car, a Viewliner baggage car, a Horizon food service car, and a Heritage baggage car. There also was the standard Hoosier State consist of three cars. On the point was P42DC No. 99.

I was positioned next to the former Big Four station at Riehle Plaza so I could photograph above the train.

Although a sunny morning, the tracks were more in shadows than I would have liked. Nonetheless I was pleased, overall, with what I came away with.

After No 851 departed – it operated on CSX as P317, an original Hoosier State number – I went over to Fifth Street to photograph it sans railroad tracks.

One stretch of rails has been left in the street in front of the former Monon passenger station.

My last encounter with the Hoosier State would be my briefest.

I drove to Linden to photograph the last northbound run at the railroad museum at the former joint Monon-Nickel Plate depot.

No. 851 was 24 minutes late leaving Indianapolis Union Station and about that late at Crawfordsville.

It had a consist similar to what I had seen in Lafayette two days earlier. P42DC No. 160 had a battered nose with some of its silver paint peeling away.

I wasn’t aware until I saw them that two former Pennsylvania Railroad cars had been chartered to operate on the rear of the last Hoosier State.

They were Colonial Crafts and Frank Thomson. The latter carried a Pennsy keystone tail sign on its observation end emblazoned with the Hoosier State name.

It was a nice touch and after those cars charged past the Hoosier State was gone in more ways than one.


That’s my Horizon coach reflected in the lower level of the Lafayette station.


Watching the countryside slide by west of Monon, Indiana.

The Hoosier State has come to a halt on Track 16 at Chicago Union Station. That’s the inbound City of New Orleans to the left.

A crowd lines the platform in Lafayette as the Hoosier State arrives en route to Chicago.

The former Big Four station in Lafayette was moved to its current location to serve Amtrak. At one time it also served intercity buses.

Pulling out of Lafayette on the penultimate northbound trip to Chicago.

P42DC No. 160, which pulled the last northbound Amtrak Train No. 851 had a well-worn nose.

Two former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars brought up the rear of the last northbound Hoosier State.

Dawn of a New Day in Indianapolis

June 28, 2019

The sun is just starting to rise over downtown Indianapolis as Amtrak’s Hoosier State emerges from the train shed of Union Station en route to Chicago.

It may be the last week of operation for Nos. 850 and 851 but it is the first week of my new life living in the Circle City.

Those who read this website and who know me are aware that I’ve been planning for some time to move from Northeast Ohio to Indy.

After many delays, complications and unforeseen circumstances, we finalized our move this week.

I made this photograph from a coach seat aboard No. 851 as I began a journey to complete our move by traveling on Amtrak back to Cleveland to pick up my car and drive it to Indy.

Yes, it made for a very long two days that included the Lake Shore arriving in Cleveland well over three hours late.

I will continue to operate this website and its focus will not change all that much aside from the fact that you might see more Indiana centric content.

As I said when I brought back this site from hibernation, it will continue to be devoted to news, features and nostalgia about the railroads of Akron and Northeast Ohio.

However, I’ll also be continuing to report news of railroad operations in the states surrounding Ohio, something I did for many years when this site supported the Akron Railroad Club.

Those of you still in Northeast Ohio are welcome to send along any photographs you’ve made of the rail operations in your home region, which was my home, too, for nearly 26 years.

During that time I served as president of the Akron Railroad Club for 14 years and was a member for 15 and a half years.

I’ve got a lot of memories of club activities and other railfanning experiences that I’ll continue to share.

As I’ve told many folks, it is not that I’ll never get back to Northeast Ohio. It’s just that those trips won’t be all that frequent. But when I do get back you might see me trackside.

I hope to see you again some day.