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    Jeff Kirkman

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Roger Hensley

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July 01, 2000

  Railroads of Madison County
Jeff Kirkman

Central Indiana Railway (the Midland)
around Westfield

May 02 1999
Dear Mr. Hensley, my name is Jeff Kirkman, and I am sending this E-Mail to you in regard to your website "Railroads of Madison County". Although I now live in Texas, I was born in Muncie, IN, and raised in Westfield, IN, where my parents are from and still live. I remember as a boy growing up, and later in teen-age years seeing the "Midland" coming through Westfield, where it crossed the Monon tracks at the west edge of town. At the railroad diamond was located a small "freight" shed, which seemed to front both the CI and the Monon, and an interlocking tower. I believe I read somewhere that the junior railroad at the crossing diamond had to maintain the interlocking tower. I seem to remember that the tower had a green "shingling" siding on the outside, and the interlocking mechanism was still inside, and still, or could have, functioned.

My friend David Good and I spent a lot of time around the railroad crossing. The Monon used semaphore signaling, or should I say the L&N by this time, and was on somewhat of a schedule. We would watch the semaphores to see when the train was coming, and could get ourselves to a better observation place and watch the train go by, sometimes from the freight shed. We considered ourselves very lucky if we were there when the Midland came in town. By this time, it was Conrail. It had to cross US highway 31 at grade, two lanes both ways, with a median in between, and how the cars and trucks had to wait for the train to cross. I remember that both the Midland and the Monon served the "Waite (sp) Elevator, which was right next to the railroad diamond, and had the leg of the spur connecting the Midland and Monon going under and in between the elevator building and storage silos. There would be a covered hopper sitting on the spur, and boy would the flanges squeal as the locomotive and cars would move slowly on the rusted rails.

The Midland's right-of-way seemed like it was going through a tunnel, the foliage was so dense, and yet the tracks were for the most part ran right between cultivated fields. Onetime, Dave and I walked from Westfield to Noblesville on the Midland tracks, about seven miles. There is an Indiana Power and Light station along the route. The Midland used very light rail, similar to what the Monon had on it's sidings, for it's "mainline", however, at the power and light station they had apparently cut in a new siding with heavier rail. There was no transition rail at the turnout, just some angled welding, yes welding, with the heavy rail and the light rail butted up together. The Midland never went very fast, and the rocking back and forth would have seemed to make the un-initiated sea-sick, but it must have been quite a bump to hit the change in rail height.

Hope I haven't rambled to much, whenever I see your website all these memories come back. I thought I'd send this to you while I was thinking about it.

May 05 1999
CIRwy #1 The time period that I have been writing about is from around 1964 through 1980. We lived about 2 blocks from the CI in Westfield from 1964 to 1966, and my dad's parents lived across the street from us, so we came visiting quite often.

I remember that the train came into town in the late afternoon or evening, seems that it was around supper time or already dark. In 1964, I was 6 years old, so I wasn't allowed down by the tracks by myself. My dad was always interested in trains, and I guess the interest just came to me naturally. When I became aware of things, dad and I would go out to see the train. I knew that it had a switch engine rather than a larger road switcher, and by the time of Penn Central, CI was using what looked like a transfer caboose, because of the longer platforms on each end, and it didn't look at all like what the Monon had.

        CI Ry #67 Information from John Reehling
CI CabooseThere were two single end sidings in town. One was just west of Union Street where the points of the turnout were just beyond the street and the end of the siding facing west. The other was just to the east of US31, which also had the points of the turnout facing east so that the end of the siding was somewhat east of the highway. Tradition says that one of the homes along the track east of the second siding was the old CI station. Across the highway was the Monon/CI crossing, Monon going north and south, CI going east and west. The Waite elevator was/is in the north-west corner of the crossing, and there was a siding that connected Monon and CI, which went from the west CI side to the north Monon side. The Monon had a long passing siding which started maybe half a mile or more north of the crossing on the west side of it's main-line. There was a crossover just north of the crossing, which was the southern end of the passing siding, and the northern end of the Monon/CI connection siding.

Further west was the CI passing siding, which was on the south side of the main line. The first two CI sidings were on the north side of the main line. I have been told that the first siding, next to Union Street, was to a former coal supply company. Towards the west end of this siding the track was on an embankment, and there was a auger placed under the track so that, I guess in later years, grain could be emptied into trucks. I believe it was the type of auger used in farming. The second siding, which was next to US31, supplied propane, I believe to the Westfield Gas Company. There was usually a long tank car parked on the siding.

The Monon station sat right in the north east corner of the crossing. I don't know if there was a station track behind the Monon station or not, I don't remember seeing any old railroad ties left after the rails were pulled up. There were some old ties in the south east corner of the crossing that looked like they at one time connected CI on the east side of the crossing to the Monon on the south side. These were pretty much covered with the surrounding ground cover, and went under the fence of the adjoining Truss MFG. CO. property. My grandparents used to say that when the CI or "Midland" carried passengers the train could turn around here. I'm not sure if that means the engine turned around too.

In the southwest corner of the crossing, there was quite a bit of undergrowth, and the ground slopes somewhat away from the roadbed. Someone told me once that there was a "Hobo" jungle here years back. This is behind where the CI interlocking tower stood. To the west the track crossed a creek, and the railroad used three culverts maybe four feet in diameter to make a bridge, the south and east flowing creek made a sort of pond to the south of the track. I can't remember if the passing siding crossed the creek also, or if it was single track. Black cinder ballast, black upper quadrant semaphore mast, small (70lb ?) rails which one would have a hard time finding a straight one, very few tie plates, loose spikes.

My cousins lived about half-way in between Westfield and Noblesville, and their property adjoined the CI track. Cousin Greg and I, when we were about 14 and 15 years old, walked down the track pulling out spikes with our hands, eventually we had two grocery sacks full and had only gone a short way. We also put them all back after our dads found out! In about 1977 the railroad had at sometime replaced some of the railroad ties a mile or so east of Westfield and left the old ties along the roadbed.

I later worked for the city of Westfield, and their city garage was along the right-of-way. There was an old trail through some dense woods that led to the track, and I had this old Jeep CJ5 ;^) After the track had been pulled up west of Westfield, my friend David Good and I drove down the roadbed, he on his motorcycle, and me in my Jeep. We went west all the way to Jolietville, where the tracks crossed state road 32. There was a trestle across Little Eagle creek, which was still standing except there were no rails. It made it interesting going kabump-kabump across the ties, 10 or 12 feet above the water. I wish now that I had taken pictures while the CI was still alive, my dad took some and I'll see what he has. You never know what you've got till it's too late.

Best regards,
Jeff Kirkman

Picture Credits:
CIRy 1 (SW1) was the first and only locomotive ever purchased new by the CI - Photo courtesy of Ed Belknap, deceased
CIRy 67 The CI's caboose - Photo courtesy of Ed Belknap, deceased

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