Railroads of Madison County
Last updated April 2, 2008  

History of the Beech Grove Shops

The Beech Grove Shops were built in 1905 by the Big Four Railroad, more appropriately called the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad.  It was designed to maintain steam locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars.  In 1922 the parent company, New York Central, absorbed the Big Four Railroad and took control of the shop.  New York Central continued to make improvements and expanded the shop operations.

    During the war years there were more than 5,000 employees.   This was certainly the peak of activity here at Beech Grove.  After World War II, trains met with a fierce new competitor known as the airplane.  Passenger train travel began a gradual decline, and with that decline, there was a decrease in the operations here at the Beech Grove Shops.  Financial difficulties arose within the New York Central Railroad as well as the Pennsylvania Railroad.  These two merged to form the Penn Central Railroad which took over operations here at Beech Grove.  But even this merger was plagued with financial difficulties and many years of deferred maintenance existed.  The facility came to a state of general disrepair.

    In 1971, Amtrak came into existence and took over the passenger rail service for all other railroads with the exception of the Southern Railroad and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  An ambitious program was undertaken to repair the old and uncared for passenger cars and bring them into a usable state of repair.  In 1973, Amtrak contracted with the Penn Central Railroad to have its passenger cars repaired and refurbished here at Beech Grove.  Amtrak was pleased with the quality of the work and the central location of Beech Grove.  After much negotiation, Amtrak acquired 62 1/2 acres of the shop for approximately $3,500,000.  The Beech Grove Shops officially became part of Amtrak on April 1, 1975.

This "Railroads of Madision County" page is written, maintained and hosted by:
Roger P. Hensley madisonrails@railfan.net
Copyright 2008 by Roger P. Hensley.