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Indiana Short Line Railroads

Published: April 20, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Big Four Terminal Railroad

(reporting mark, BFTR):  This small terminal road has been in service since January of 2003 operating 1.5 miles of track at Craigville, Indiana providing switching for local industries in that town.

Central Indiana & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, CEIW): This independent terminal/switching carrier operates approximately 7 miles of track between Lapel and Anderson where it interchanges with CSX.  The road's traffic consists of glass products and agriculture.

Central Railroad of Indiana

(reporting mark, CIND): This medium-sized carrier operates 96 miles of former NYC trackage between Cincinnati, Ohio and Shelbyville, Indiana. 

It has been in service since 1992 and was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000 before G&W ownership in 2012.  Today, its traffic base includes automobiles, chemicals, metals, aggregates while moving more than 11,000 carloads annually.

Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad

(reporting mark, CFE):  This Genesee & Wyoming road (formerly RailAmerica) began service in 2004 over PRR's former Fort Wayne Line between Gary, Indiana and Crestline, Ohio with a branch reaching Decatur. 

It operates roughly 315 miles in total with freight consisting of lumber, paper, chemicals, steel beams, shelled corn, and other hazardous materials.

Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad

(reporting mark, CSS)See Illinois.

Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad

(reporting mark, DREI): See Illinois.

Dubois County Railroad

(reporting mark, DCRR):  This small short line is the freight-hauling arm of the Indiana Railway Museum. 

The systems operates 16 miles from a connection with NS at Huntingburg to Dubois (the museums owns a total of 24 miles, stretching as far as French Lick).  The route's history dates back to the Southern and the company currently hauls agriculture and petroleum products.

Elkhart & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, EWR):  This small short line was formed by the Pioneer Railcorp in 2001, acquiring 11 miles of former NS property between Elkhart and Mishawaka (the line's history traces back to the NYC). 

Since first entering service the road has acquired an additional 23-mile, disconnected segment between Argos and Walkerton, Indiana.  The road's traffic base consists of auto frames, cement, lumber, tomato paste, plastics, and aggregates.

Evansville Western Railway

(reporting mark, EVWR):  This short line is a division of P&L Transportation and operates 124.5 miles of former Louisville & Nashville trackage between Evansville, Indiana and Okawville, Illinois (there are also spurs reaching White Oak and Sugar Camp). 

The property was acquired from CSX in 2005 with service commencing on January 1, 2006.  The road handles roughly 60,000 carloads annually.

Gary Railway Company

(reporting mark, GRW):  This short line began in 2009 over former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern trackage.  It is a division of Transtar, Inc.  The GRW maintains a total of 63 miles, most of which is yard and industrial trackage, to serve U. S. Steel’s Gary Works in Gary, Indiana.  Interchange is carried out with Canadian National.

Grand Elk Railroad

(reporting mark, GDLK): The Grand Elk Railroad is a Watco shortline and has been in operation only since 2009.

A large shortline, it operates 151 miles from NS between Grand Rapids, Michigan and Elkhart, Indiana (formerly owned by the NYC).  Today, the line transports automotive parts, plastics, metals, forest products, agricultural products and aggregates.

Fulton County Railroad

(reporting mark, FCR):  This small, privately-owned short line serves just one customer in Rochester, Indiana the Wilson Fertilizer & Grain, Inc.  The history of the line dates back to the former Erie Railroad's Chicago trunk line between the Windy City and New York. 

Most of the route was primarily abandoned following Conrail's startup in 1976.  A short line known as Erie Western attempted to retain service from western Ohio to Chicago but went under in 1979.  A 1-mile segment was retained west of Rochester (once also operated by Indiana Hi-Rail) and is owned by the Fulton County Authority.

Hoosier Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, HOS): The Hoosier Southern Railroad serves the Perry County Port Authority operating about 22 miles of track between Cannelton and Lincoln City, Indiana.  The road has been in service since 1991 over trackage acquired by NS that year.  It utilizes a trio of GP7s for power.

Indiana & Ohio Railway

(reporting mark, IORY):  This short line has been in service since 1985 when it acquired a former NYC branch between Valley Junction, Ohio and Brookville, Indiana.  

In the succeeding years the I&O picked up several more routes being shed by Class Is with histories tracing back to the PRR, Baltimore & Ohio, and Chesapeake & Ohio that stretched as far as Dundee, Michigan.  

For many years it was owned by RailAmerica whose assets were acquired by G&W in 2012.  Today, the I&O operates about 570 miles and hauls metal products, chemicals, plastics, lumber, paper, agricultural products, and distillers grains.

Indian Creek Railroad

(reporting mark, ICRK): This small railroad is owned by Rydman & Fox, Inc. and operates about 4.5 miles of trackage.  It began service in 1981 running between Anderson, Indiana and its current connection with NS at Florida Station.  The road primarily handles agriculture products and owns a single RS11 of Southern Pacific heritage for power.

Indiana Eastern Railroad

(reporting mark, IERR): This privately owned short line, a subsidiary of the Respondek Railroad, leases 43-miles from CSX between Richmond, Indiana and Fernald, Ohio that previously dated back to Chesapeake & Ohio ownership.  The road has been in service since 2005.

Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

(reporting mark, IHB)See Illinois.

Indiana Rail Road

(reporting mark, INDR):  See Illinois.

Indiana Northeastern Railroad

(reporting mark, IN):  This short line traces its history back to the Pigeon River Railroad of 1992.  Today, the company has blossomed into a 120-mile system serving northeastern Indiana, southern Michigan, and northwestern Ohio much of which dates back to NYC heritage.  The road's traffic base consist of coal, agriculture, sand, glass, steel, and other freight.

Indiana Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, ISRR):  This large system first began service in 1992 over former Pennsylvania property between Indianapolis and Evansville.  It was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000 and subsequently by G&W in 2012.  The road operates nearly 200 miles and transports primarily agriculture-based freight commodities moving more than 70,000 carloads annually.

Indiana Southwestern Railway

(reporting mark, ISW): This railroad is another of Pioneer Rail Corporation's property operating just 3.8 miles from Evansville, northward.  It began service in 2000 as the Evansville Terminal Railway that originally operated 17 miles between Evansville and Cynthiana of former IC trackage. 

However, in 2011 it was cutback to just 3.8 miles following the cessation of grain service.  Current traffic consists of agriculture, plastics, and rail equipment.

Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, KBSR): See Illinois.

Kendallville Terminal Railway

(reporting mark, KTR): Another Pioneer Rail Corporation shortline this terminal railroad operates just 1.1 mile of track near Kendallville hauling sugar and syrup.  The route's heritage dates back to the Grand Rapids & Indiana, later Michigan Central which was acquired by NYC.

Lake Michigan & Indiana Railroad

(reporting mark, LMIC):  This non-operating short line, a division of the Keystone Railroad, is owned by ArcelorMittal (previously Bethlehem Steel Corporation) and has been in operation since 1999 when it began service on 66 miles of terminal and switching trackage in Burns Harbor, Indiana.  It is leased and operated by NS.

Louisville & Indiana Railroad

(reporting mark, LIRC):  This short line, an Anacostia Rail Holdings property, has been in operation since 1994 that operates 106 miles of former PRR trackage between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky. 

The road's primary traffic consists of cement, chemicals, food products, grain lumber, manufactured goods, paper, plastics, scrap, and steel.  It moves more than 35,000 carloads annually.

Lucas Oil Rail Line

(reporting mark, LORL):  Formerly known as the historic Louisville New Albany & Corydon Railroad which dated back to 1886 the property was acquired by Lucas Oil in 2006, which renamed it as the Lucas Oil Rail Line.  It operates nearly 8 miles of trackage between Corydon Junction and Corydon, Indiana hauling petroleum-based products.

Madison Railroad

(reporting mark, CMPA):  This 25-mile short line is owned by the City of Madison Port Authority and has been in service since 1978 when it acquired the former PRR from Conrail between Madison and North Vernon.  Along with freight service the road offers car storage and switching services.

MG Rail, Inc.

(reporting mark, MGRI):  This terminal/switching railroad is operated by Consolidated Grain & Barge operating 3.7 miles near the town of Jeffersonville.  It utilizes a pair of former CSX GP16s.

Napoleon, Defiance & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, NDW):  This short line was famously known as the Maumee & Western for many years due to the badly deteriorated track upon which it operated.  

It was originally part of the Wabash running between Fort Wayne, Indiana and Napoleon, Ohio (53 miles) and operated by NS until the 1980s when sold to Indiana Hi-Rail. 

This company went bankrupt in the mid-1990s when it became the Maumee & Western.  In 2012 Pioneer Railcorp took over the property and renamed it as the ND&W.  Since then the company has performed extensive repairs to improve service.  The road handles food products, chemicals, aggregates, fertilizer, and grain.

New Castle Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, NCSR): This short line began service in September, 2021 by leasing 21 miles of Norfolk Southern trackage between Beesons and New Castle, Indiana (ex-Nickel Plate Road).  The line had previously been operated as the Connersville & New Castle Railroad since 1997.

Respondek Railroad

(reporting mark, RRC):  This company first began service in 1987.  It is based in Boonville, Indiana where it provides contract rail car switching services and of short line rail operations. 

Its three current systems include the Illini Terminal which offers switching services in central Illinois; the Squaw Creek Southern Railroad (reporting mark, SQS) is a multifaceted operation.

Since 2007 it has operated the former Yankeetown Dock line between Yankeetown and Boonville, Indiana that primarily serves a coal-fired power plant at Alcoa.

In addition, it also operates the former Central of Georgia line between Newborn and Manchen (12.5 miles) along with another 17-mile segment between Madison and Machen, both leased from NS.

Finally, the Port Harbor Railroad (reporting mark, PHRR) provides switching/terminal operations at Granite City, Illinois operating about 5.2 miles of track serving the America's Central Port. 

Most of Respondek's motive power wears a bright green and yellow livery paying homage to the historic Illinois Terminal, a one-time large interurban that became a successful freight hauler before disappearing into Norfolk & Western in 1980.

R.J. Corman Railroad, Western Ohio Lines

(reporting mark, RJCW):  One of several roads affiliated with RJ Corman there are four different branches within this segment that first entered service in 1993 including:

  • St. Mary's Line (Lima, Ohio - Portland, Indiana)
  • Greenville Line (Greenville, Ohio - Ansonia, Ohio)
  • SPEG Line (Lima - Glenmore, Ohio)
  • Minster Branch (St. Mary's - Minster, Ohio)

The routes, totaling 94 miles, interchange with both CSX and NS handling grain, fertilizer, aluminum, rubber, tomato, plastic, and steel.

South Chicago & Indiana Harbor Railway

(reporting mark, SCIH)See Illinois.

Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway

(reporting mark, TPW):  See Illinois.

U. S. Rail Corporation

(reporting mark, USRC):  This company operates a handful of short lines in the eastern United States. It operates one terminal road near Kokomo, Indiana primarily handling grain traffic.


Vermilion Valley Railroad

(reporting mark, VVRR): This small short line operates about 6 miles of track between Danville, Illinois and Olin, Indiana on trackage once owned by the NYC.  It was acquired from CSX by the Indiana Boxcar Corporation in 2003.

Wabash Central Railroad

(reporting mark, WBCR):  This privately-owned short line has been in service since June 22, 1999 utilizing the former Nickel Plate's "Clover Leaf" between Craigville and Van Buren, Indiana.  Power for the operation is a pair of former Illinois Central GP10s and traffic is primarily agriculture.

Winamac Southern Railway

(reporting mark, WSRY):  This short line began service in 1993 and is currently operated by the Toledo, Peoria & Western.  It maintains the former PRR from Logansport to Kokomo and another from Logansport to Bringhurst.