Track Gang

Railroads of Madison County

Elwood Indiana

Although most of the Pennsylvania RR in Madison County was under control of Delco Tower from Henry County to a block near Frankton, it was Elwood that controlled the Pennsy main from there almost all the way to Kokomo in Howard County.

For many years, the Lake Erie and Western (NKP) crossed the Pennsy's Richmond Branch at Elwood (WD), but the low traffic did not call for a manned interlocking. Target Signals provided enough protection as trains on both railroads were required to approach the crossing prepared to stop and then only to proceed when they knew that nothing was coming on the other railroad and with the target in a diagonal position. This procedure was not a problem for the six scheduled passenger trains on the Pennsy as they would normally stop at the Elwood Passenger Station adjacent to the crossing.

Elwood Block Station By 1938, the PRR had established a part-time manned Block Station in the passenger station. With the war traffic increasing in the early 1940's, more delays and problems were experienced with the inadequate crossing arrangements between the PRR and the NKP. The result was the building of a new block building by the Pennsy in 1945. It contained an electric interlocking and home signals operated by a six lever table interlocker. The new Elwood Block Station continued in full time service beyond the 1968 merger with the New York Central.

On March 1, 1974 the Elwood Block Station was reduced to a day shift operation as Penn Central rerouted traffic to other lines and on April 1, 1976 Conrail did not take over this portion of the Richmond Branch and Elwood's PRR line had been abandoned.

Last PC Passenger
Last Penn Central Passenger Run

However, for many years both the PRR and NKP lines through Elwood were very active switching local industry. As elsewhere in Central Indiana, the Gas Boom had produced a growth in industries using natural gas for power. Elwood became the home of several glass companies as well as canning and tin can companies. Being located in the heart of an agricultural area made Elwood a natural location for canning companies wishing to locate their plants near to the source of their products. These operations were served by both the Pan Handle (PRR) and the LE&W (NKP) as well as an industrial switching line, the Elwood, Anderson and Lapel Railroad Company (EA&L).

In the early 1900s, the PRR served such industries as Pittsburg Plate Glass, McBeth & Evans Glass (later St. Clair Glass) and switched the Shovel Factory jointly with the NKP. Both lines had long sidings and small yards for storage and interchange, with the NKP having a large number of tracks allotted for the Stock Yards. Both lines also serviced nearby on-line grain elevators bringing their cars into Elwood for interchange. The EA&L was very involved in this exchange traffic as well as with the industries that it served.

Not to be outdone in traffic flow, the Union Traction Company had extensive trackage in and around Elwood acting as the people mover throughout Northern Madison County. The roads in and around Elwood left much to be desired for many years and the service provided by the traction line was much appreciated. With the coming of better roads and more and better automobiles, Traction ridership fell off and the small lcl (Less Than Carload) deliveries that they handled were not enough to keep them solvent. Trucks took more and more of that service and the inter-city bus took the balance of the people transportation.

Elwood, Anderson and Lapel Railroad Company

D. B. Edmonds , General Agent.................Elwood, Indiana
Miles of road operated - 5
gauge 4ft 8.5 in.
Locomotives - 2
Total cars - 6
Freight cars are not employed in commercial service
Connections with New York, Chicago, and St. Louis R.R. (NKP) and the
Pennsylvania R.R. (PRR) at Elwood, Ind.
* Source of information: 1928 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER)
The Elwood, Anderson & Lapel Ry was to have run from Elwood through Frankton to Anderson and then West to Lapel. It was a duplication of PRR and CIRy routing. This simply could not work and obviously didn't.

Thomas B. Helm's History of Madison County, Indiana with appended 1901 plat maps of Madison County, clearly shows the EA&L as a proposed line to Frankton from Elwood. However, it was shown as a completed switching road in Elwood switching the American Tin Plate Co and what looks to be a large cannery on the SE side of Elwood. Service to the North and Northwest of Elwood would have to have been through the co-operation of the NKP and/or PRR unless it made use of some of the Union Traction Co. trackage. EA&L trackage would have been industrial track located primarily in Elwood to service glass plants and canning factories and for exchanging cars between the PRR and NKP.

[ PS - More information on this railroad is needed. If you know more about the EA&L, please contact me, Roger Hensley Many Thanks to Steve Long, secretary of the Monon Society (1997) for bringing this road to my attention.]

Picture Credits:
Elwood Block Station April 30, 1971 - Photo by Marvin Crim.
Last PC Passenger run northbound through Elwood on April 30, 1971 - Photo by Marvin Crim.
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Last updated August 23, 1997.
This "Railroads of Madision County" page is written, maintained and hosted by: Roger P. Hensley
Copyright 1997 by Roger P. Hensley.