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Contact the
Roger Hensley

  Railroads of Madison County
Mitchell - Altamont

Subject: Re: Altamont
Mr. Hensley

I enjoy your site and it is very educational and the photos are great. I would like to know if there is any information and photos concerning Altamont Jct just east of Lafayette. I worked there during the early 1970's and I'm sure at one time this was a busy location. Would you know of a forum that this locations is mentioned?

Subject: Re: Altamont
I'm afraid that I have no information about Altamont. I have heard of it but it has been a number of years. Sorry.

I would appreciate any information you might be able to give me, however. If it is decent, I could add it to my memory pages.

Subject: Re: Altamont
Mr. Hensley

Well the only thing I could add would be that we did a lot of work between Altamont and Templeton from 1972 to 1977, now we didn't work on this project the entire time between these years, they would pull us off and bring us back from time to time. The project was to put in CTC and the talk at that time was to use G office as the dispatcher's room. G office was the depot that is now located where the Amtrak station is. We strung several miles of line wire that we called code line. During this operation of stringing this line wire I lost a good friend. He was electrocuted from the 440 AC line that ran from Altamont to Templeton.

I think the reason behind CTC at those two points was brought on because PC was revamping a lot of their lines and the line between Cincinnati and Indianapolis was in the process of being revamped which meant they were going to revamp the PC line from Templeton on to Chicago as well as the PC line between Altamont and Indianapolis. Altamont to Templeton was automatic block using Semaphore signals at that time so by us adding the code line that would allow the change from automatic block to controlled signaling. The track between Altamont and Templeton was double track well maintained and maintained by the N&W as well as the signaling, a lot of the signaling was in bad shape, underground cable was in need of repair and a lot of the signals themselves.  

From Frankfort to Peoria the N&W ran two trains, one each way, 62 and 65 plus a local. During the NS period they had what was called a 3 day local to Peoria and they used a new term called a Turn, which met that this local could reverse his movement without the extra paper work needed before the term Turn was applied.

  When I first started working Altamont there were several tracks removed before my time. and there were still several tracks left in. I'm sure at one time that was a busy location dealing with the New York Central and the Nickel Plate Road. At Altamont there was a coaling tower with two tracks running beneath for both directions and a water tank and an interlocking tower. There were several power switch machines to do the transferring of train movements through this area. These were M-2 powered machines and I believe these were 110 AC machines. If the power was out then a maintainer would be called and he would have to take a small crank and place it in the slot opening in the machine and rotate it until the switch was placed in the right position.

During the late 70's the push was CTC'ing the line from Frankfort to Demond (Demond was just west of Altamont about 2 or 3 miles I believe),   which was the connection track between the NKP and the Wabash. The PC plans were scraped by the time Conrail took over also during this time period the line from Demond on to Peoria was starting to die as well.

When we worked this area we would have our bunk cars at Smith street which was located near downtown Lafayette or Otterbien which was west of Lafayette about 10 miles.

As I recall they ran 3 passenger trains a day from Chicago to Cincinnati. You never knew what passenger cars they would be nor what engines were used. I've seen, PC. B&O, PRR and NYC engines and the same was true with the passenger cars. The third train did not run every day. These trains would run west of a morning and late in the afternoon and maybe as late as 7 or 8 pm going east. G office was the passenger stopping point. At that time the N&W was also running passenger service though Lafayette, 2 each way #301 and #304. These trains ran from St. Louis to Detroit and they usually met somewhere between Lafayette and Peru.

Well this is about all I can recall for now. Thank you for answering my letter.

M. Mitchell Jr

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