Indiana railroads have a rich history dating back to the 1830s and
historically has not only been home to the important city of
Indianapolis but also a key through route to other important connections
like St. Louis (the third busiest gateway behind Chicago and Kansas
City) and Chicago. Because the state was right next door to Illinois
and near Chicago all of the major eastern trunk lines operated through
it such as the B&O, PRR, New York Central, Erie, etc. Today,
is home to four of the seven Class I railroads and has numerous
short lines, museums and tourist railroads operating within its borders.
Of note, for your interest there are a number of pages (from this
website) listed here covering railroad subjects related to the state of
Indiana such as museums, historic interurbans, stations/depots, etc.
The state's railroads date back to 1838 when the Madison, Indianapolis
& Lafayette opened its original 15-mile main line from North
Madison, Indiana. The railroad later became part of the Jeffersonville,
Madison & Indianapolis Railroad in 1866. The JM&I, itself,
would become part of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St.
Louis, a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary. In any event, much like
Illinois, Indiana had virtually no railroads prior to 1840 but this
quickly changed by 1880 when the state boasted over 4,000 miles of
trackage. As with Illinois, Indiana was one of the few states that had
both east-west main lines accessing Chicago and Indianapolis as well as
north-south key routes (Louisville & Nashville Railroad and Illinois
Today, most of Indiana's rails are operated by four Class I
railroads; CSX, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National Railway, and
Canadian Pacific Railway. The rest is operated by shortlines and
regionals some of which include the Indiana Rail Road; Indiana &
Ohio; Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad; Elkhart & Western
Railroad; Evansville Western Railway; Indiana Northeastern Railroad;
Indiana Southern Railroad; Lake Michigan and Indiana Railroad;
Louisville & Indiana
Railroad; Louisville New Albany & Corydon Railroad, and the
Respondek Railroad. For a more in-depth look at Indiana's rail mileage throughout
the years please refer to the chart below. As the chart depicts, the
state was once home to nearly 7,500 miles of trackage. However, today
that number has been cut down to just over 4,100 miles. With a decline
of 45% since the 1920s this is about average considering most other
state's have suffered similar loses.
The Hoosier State's passenger trains are operated by Amtrak and include its tri-weekly Cardinal
between Chicago and Washington, D.C. However, during the "Golden
Years" several famous Eastern passenger trains passed through the state
with important stops at Indianapolis. Some of these trains include the
Baltimore & Ohio's Capitol Limited and National Limited, PRR's Broadway Limited, C&O's George Washington, and New York Central's 20th Century Limited. To learn more about these streamliners, and others, please click here.
Aside from Amtrak's Cardinal, the historic interurban, the South
Shore Line still serves Hammond and South Bend (which also connects with
Chicago). Even today, you can catch South Shore trains operating on
street trackage, like in Michigan City!
Indiana is also home to a number of railroad museums and tourist
lines such as the Indiana Railway Museum, Indiana Transportation Museum,
Carthage, Knightstown & Shirley Railroad, Fort Wayne Railroad
Historical Society (home to operating Nickel Plate Road
Berkshire #765), Hesston Steam Museum, Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum,
Jefferson County Historical Society Museum and Railroad Depot, Linden
Railroad Museum, National New York Central Railroad
Museum, Wabash Valley Railroaders Museum, Whitewater Valley Railroad.
In all, Indiana offers a wide variety of railroading from street
running and interurbans to main line freight trains and Amtrak's Cardinal.
Even if you are a vacationer looking for something interesting to do
the state offers a wide variety of railroad museums to choose from and
visit. In the end, you certainly should not be disappointed if you are
heading to Indiana looking to catch railroads in action!