Posts Tagged ‘Monon Railroad’

Indiana Rail Line May Become Trail

February 15, 2017

The rail line used to host the Indiana State Fair train may be pulled up and converted into a trail.

IndianaHamilton County officials are considering abandoning the former Nickel Plate Road branch line and making the right of way a hike and bike path.

The Fair Train, operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum, last operated in 2015 when it carried more than 10,000 passengers.

However, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which owns the rail line, would not allow ITM to operate the Fair Train or any other trains on the line in 2016.

The HHPA says that the line needs $5 million in safety investments before it can be used for rail service again.

The line extends from the fairgrounds along 38th Street in Indianapolis northward through Fishers and Noblesville.

The museum is based in Noblesville but in recent years the Fair Train has originated in Fishers.

If built, the trail would be similar to the Monon Trail, which uses a former Monon Railroad right of way that in the 1980s hosted the Fair Train.

Then and Now on the B&O St. Louis Line

December 22, 2014

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Here is a little then and now at Mitchell, Ind. This small town in southern Indiana was the crossing of the Baltimore & Ohio’s line between Cincinnati and St. Louis with the Monon’s line between Chicago and Louisville, Ky. The B&O controlled the interlocking from its passenger depot east of the crossing. The Monon had its own passenger station.

The top photograph was made in July 1992. By now, both the Monon and B&O routes were controlled by CSX, which still had an operator in the depot to operate the interlocking.

Both photographs are looking eastward from the grade crossing just west of the diamond. The local is on the siding heading eastward. It might be getting ready to work the small yard to the east of the station. Note the color position light signal mounted on a cantilever.

If you look past the depot, you’ll see another CPL for eastward movements. At the time, there was a sign by that signal indicating that it was the start of the Medora block. Those CPLs were once ubiquitous on B&O mainlines.

Although not obvious, major changes are coming to the ex-Monon. The last through trains between Chicago and Louisville over this route, R590 and R591, made their last trips through here in late May of 1992, although they continued to operate on the north end.

In less than a year, CSX will abandon the ex-Monon between Bloomington and Bedford, thus severing the line as a through route. Local service was still being maintained to Bedford when the 1992 photograph was made. CSX also had the option of operating trains north out of Louisville across the Mitchell diamonds and then backing onto the ex-B&O to go west to St. Louis. They would indeed do this for a while.

The bottom photo was made last May. The ex-Monon tracks are still in place, yet haven’t been used since 2009 when CSX ceased providing local service on what is called the Hoosier Subdivision except right around New Albany, Ind. That same year the Indiana Rail Road stopped operating trains over the ex-Monon to Louisville. Therefore, the ex-Monon tracks in Mitchell collect rust as they await disposition.

All of the B&O CPL signals are gone, replaced by what appear to be older signal heads placed on modern masts. The CPLs that once stood east of the depot have been removed.

Yet, there is much that has not changed about this scene. The ex-B&O is still double track through town and the old B&O depot is still in place. The siding on the ex-B&O looks rather rusty, suggesting it sees little use. The connection between the ex-Monon and ex-B&O is still in place.

I’m not sure what the traffic count is on the ex-B&O but bits and pieces I’ve seen on railfan chat lists leads me to believe that few trains use this route at this location. I wonder if any Cincinnati-St. Louis trains pass through here. I believe that much of that traffic takes the former Conrail route via Indianapolis to the north.

Whatever the case, the future of both of these rail lines seems murky as best.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Semaphore Blades Stolen in Indiana

September 25, 2014

A report on a chat list devoted to discussing railroads in Indiana says that seven semaphore signal were stolen recently from the fallow CSX Hoosier Subdivision.

The thefts occurred near Orleans and Smedley on a portion of the line that has been out of service since July 2009. CSX ceased freight operations on most of the Hoosier Sub the same year except for a segment in the New Albany area near Louisville, Ky.

The thieves reportedly wore hard hats and were driving a white truck. Police interviewed neighbors in the area where the blades were taken and other residents living near the line were warned to watch out for suspicious activity.

The Hoosier Sub is the remains of the south end of the former Monon. CSX abandoned the ex-Monon between Bedford and Bloomington in 1993, which effectively severed the line as a Chicago-Louisville route.

CSX separated the ex-Monon into the Hoosier Sub between Bedford and New Albany and the Monon Subdivision between Munster and Cloverdale, Ind. The latter is primarily used north of Crawfordsville by CSX freights and Amtrak’s Cardinal and Hoosier State.

Linden Depot Museum Open for the Season

April 20, 2014

The Linden (Ind.) Depot Museum has opened for the 2014 season. The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October.

New this year is opening the building on the south side of the property. The main attraction in this new space is a new HO model railroad that depot volunteers have been working on throughout the winter.

One of the features of this model railroad is an animated circus display. The layout room features connections between trains and the circus. Trains played an important role in transporting circuses from town to town across the United States.

The museum has on display an original eight-seat Star-Back circus bench from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. The display also features an original 16-foot sign from the Allen C. Hill Great American Circus.

A number of special events are planned for 2014. Saturday, June 28 will be Nickel Plate Day at the museum. Saturday, July 26 will be Circus Day, featuring a sword swallower and juggler, and Pat Kelly, the clown who is a son of Emmett Kelly.

On Sunday, Aug. 31, the Purdue Boilermaker Express will provide narrated rides through Linden.

Admission to the museum is $4 for adults and $1 for children ages 12 and under. Admission is good for both buildings. The museum is located on U.S. Route 231.

Linden is located between Crawfordsville and Lafayette and at one time was the junction of the Monon and Clover Leaf railroads. The former Clover Leaf, which eventually became part of the Nickel Plate Road, has been abandoned through Linden, but the ex-Monon is still operated by CSX. The route sees Amtrak’s tri-weekly Cardinal and quad weekly Hoosier State.

 

The Monon’s ‘Lynne’ Before it was Restored

March 18, 2014

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Upon reading the post on the Akron Railroad Club blog about how the ex-Monon Railroad business car Lynne has now been restored, I recalled having photographs of it from several years ago. This car has long sat on a unused siding near Chesterton, Ind. It had taken on the myth of an urban legend except it was real. Here are some pictures from then. I hope to visit it in a few months to see how it has progressed.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Ex-Monon Business Car Restored

March 14, 2014

A former Monon business car has been restored by the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society.

Pullman built Monon business car No. 2, Lynne, in 1924 as an open platform observation.

The Monon acquired the car in 1953 and rebuilt it into a business car with a kitchen, dining room, drawing room, two compartments and a large observation room.

It was named Lynne after Monon President Warren Brown’s 2-year-old granddaughter Lynne Chambers. The car would visit French Lick, Ind., at least once a year when the railroad ran specials to the Kentucky Derby in nearby Louisville.

The car was retired in 1971 and sold to construction company Brown Inc. of Michigan City, Ind., which used it as an office.

When the owner of the company died, the family donated the car to the society, which spent $30,000 for brake and structural work to move the car to the Indiana Railway Museum at French Lick in December 2011.

Interior and exterior work was done in the restoration process with cabinetry remanufactured, plumbing repaired, head end power work done, and furniture acquired.

The Jasper Group, a French Lick custom furniture manufacturer, donated furniture for the dining room.

Society President Pete Pedigo was found the original brass script logos that carried the car’s name from Lynne’s family, which was invited to an inaugural celebration to mount the plates back on the car.

The Lynne is used on occasional excursion runs by the museum, which operates the French Lick Scenic Railway over 25 miles of track from French Lick to Jasper.
Restoration of the Lynne was funded in part by a grant from the National Railway Historical Society National Heritage Grant program.