Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum: The Intersection of 4 Abandoned Rail Lines


Source: 1959 USGS North Judson Map
Much like the town of Anthony, KS, North Judson, IN is another town that once was a junction between multiple railroads, today all of which are long gone.

At this intersection today, the railroad history of North Judson is preserved with the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, which does a great job of taking the complicated rail network of yesteryear, and paying homage to the bygone days of each line. Today's blog will show images from what the lines look like today, in and around North Judson, as well as shots from my visit to the museum.



North Judson, IN Today:

North Judson on my Abandoned Railroad Rights-of-Way Map
The ties from the NYC Kankakee Belt Route are still viewable.
Junction between the Erie Railroad and the New York Central
The Kankakee Belt Route of the New York Central ran east-west through North Judson, appears to have been abandoned in the 1960's. Running between South Bend and Kankakee, the line is still in service west of Wheatfield, IN.

The Erie Railroad at the Hoosier Valley Railroad's Eastern Terminus
The Erie Railroad was the longest abandonment to run through North Judson. It connected Chicago to Lima, OH, and continued farther east from there. The abandonment begins just east of the Indiana border in Hammond and continues all the way to Elgin, OH, roughly 176 miles. Only the museum tracks and a couple short line operations less than a mile long use any of the right-of-way today.


The Pennsylvania Railroad is abandoned between Beverly Jct in Chicago to Kenneth, IN, west of Logansport. It competed with the Erie between Chicago and North Judson, with the Erie running a slightly more direct route. Both the Erie and Pennsylvania lines have sections of rail trail; The Pennsylvania is known today as the Major Taylor trail in Chicago, and the Erie has the Erie-Lackawanna Trail beginning in Hammond, as well as the North Judson Rail Trail east of North Judson.

The Pennsylvania ran parallel to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad immediately north of North Judson, running along the west side of English Lake Rd, while the C&O ran on the east side. Like the rest of the Pennsylvania System, it merged into Penn Central, and later Conrail. The line appears to have been abandoned sometime in the 1980's. The Erie would merge with the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad, becoming the Erie Lackawanna Railway, who would abandon this stretch of the line.

Pennsylvania Railroad ROW crossing 145th Ave, just southeast of Leroy, IN

Sign pointing toward the museum in North Judson. This ROW immediately east was formerly the PRR.

Grasselli Tower, located where the still active C&O line now used exclusively for heritage operations by the museum. 

The C&O Tracks, still intact. The line ends immediately southeast of the museum, and much of the museum train uses the tracks for the ride, otherwise I do not believe these are used, other than for storage at the museum.
By far, the most impressive piece of rolling stock the museum has, unfortunately it wasn't running today.
The museum is small but well taken care for, and has plenty of rolling stock, and lots of photos of the history of this place. 
It was hard to get a great picture, given the glare, but this is an N-Scale model of the junction as it looked in the 1950's.
There are many other railroads represented in the rolling stock preserved here!
Metra Electric car. They had a couple of these on display, neither of which were running.
The highlight of the museum, which is free, is the heritage train, which runs between English Lake and a farm just east of North Judson, which is $12 a ticket. Well worth the price in my opinion, and it goes to a good cause, keeping the museum running and preserving the history of an important railroad junction.
Erie Lackawanna 310, used for power on the train.

Long Island Railroad Car, used in the heritage train they run.
EJE 184, another car used on the train.
A little switcher engine on display.
What odd track alignments!
Illinois Central Caboose
The open-air cars are part of the train, and I recommend them over the coaches, you get to see a lot more from these.
The HVRR museum has a neat set of operating wig wags for the pedestrian crossing at the depot/gift shop.
The museum is a fun place to spend the day, and is appropriate for all ages (there were plenty of young kids there enjoying the ride). It does a great job of taking the history of North Judson, and each of the railroad lines running through it, and preserving it for future generations. If you ever find yourself in Northwest Indiana (specifically, Starke County), I suggest paying them a visit!

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