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  Railroads of Madison County
The Muncie Belt
Matt Lappin Memories

- Muncie Belt Ry -

Matt Lappin said:

Here is the Belt info. You can edit it how you need to, no need to credit me, not worried about it. No one to my understand has written anything about the belt and trying to find anything is tough. I am sure that there might be a few things that are wrong, luckily having grown up just down the road from it, I can remember a lot. But its just for a general nature, as I have not set down and gone through papers for actual dates and so forth.

The Muncie Belt like many other belt roads was owned by multiple carriers wishing to service industries that were not located on their mainlines, or to use them for interchange of traffic to keep congestion on their mainlines down. The Muncie Belt was no different, having multiple owners, the Big Four (or New York Central) being the primary user of the belt, along with the Nickel Plate Road.

The Muncie Belt stretched from its mainline connection with the New York Central at Vance (on Muncie's east side "Lincoln Ave.") south to 8th Street where it curved west across the Pennsylvania's tracks and headed into the Indiana Bridge facility, staying north of their property it then crossed Macedonia Ave. north of 12th Street, cutting a slow curve through the Ball Brothers property and finally reattaching itself to the Muncie & Western on the southern edge of the Ball Property. From here it followed the M&W south across 18th Street, then curving west it split smaller industry facilities heading off toward Madison and Walnut Streets. Once the road crossed Walnut Street it slowly curved and angled south again to connect into the NKP at a point just north of 23rd Street.

The Pennsylvania line that ran from Matthews to Muncie entered into the picture when its line curved away from the former C&O at the east end of Vine yard. The Pennsylvania line turned south following along what is a disconnected segment of Macedonia Ave, then crossing Indiana Highway 32, then actually running in the middle of Macedonia Avenue (you can still see the rails in the split street). Less then one city block south of Indiana Highway 32, the PRR line crossed both the NKP's Frankfort District and NYC's Indianapolis line at Vance. Once the line crossed both roads at Vance, it then curved off to the southeast around the Broderick Foundry, making its slow decent down grade, it then turned south to follow the Muncie Belt and C&O lines south to 8th Street. To this day, you can still see where the PRR crossed Burlington Drive between Brotherton and Ribble.

There is a former junk yard that separated the PRR and Belt from each other, the C&O and Belt on the east side and the PRR on the west side. Currently only the Belt line is still in place, both the PRR and C&O have been removed. Back to the PRR and 8th Street. The PRR kept heading south, sliding only a bit to the east to run closer to the Belt, once across 8th Street the Belt swung around and crossed the PRR on a diamond. The PRR however kept heading south, finally crossing 12th Street along the edge of Mock Avenue. The line followed the edge of Mock and curved to the west at 14th Street to join the M&W track that split 14th and 15th Streets. The PRR line actually crossed the M&W on crossovers to gain access to the southern track (memory says there were 4 or 5 tracks on the M&W from the C&O wye at Meeker to where it gained access into the Ball facility at Macedonia). The PRR trackage ended close to Macedonia Ave. where the Belt once again came south. The Belt actually picked up again at 18th Street, the M&W, PRR and Belt actually cut a slight angle across the south edge of the Ball property.

The vast majority of the Belt lasted until Conrail was formed. Conrail acquired what was the north end of the belt track from Macedonia Ave. to Vance tower, the associated PRR line from Vance to Macedonia was abandoned in the late 1970's, since switching could be performed via the Belt, the PRR line was deemed as redundant. The section of the Belt from Indiana Bridge to Ball Brothers was abandoned in the late 70's also, but tracks still remain to this day. (the track is still in to almost 12th Street, where a small segment was removed, but the track is still in south of there across 12th Street, albeit buried in pavement)

Today the Muncie Belt is operated by CSXT, and the tracks are still in from what was once Vance to the back side of Indiana Bridge. Conrail still used the line as needed, but inspection of the line in July of 2004 showed CSXT hasn't been down the line in some time. The "west end" of the Belt from 18th Street to the NKP connection is nothing more then pieces of itself. Norfolk Southern owns this section, along with the associated M&W track into the south side of the Ball property. There are actually 2 segments of the Belt left, only one being used on the "west end". The segment from the Ball property across 18th. Street to just short of the Hackley Street crossing is still in, but disconnected at the ends, however there is still a switch from the Belt to the M&W at roughly the point in which Beacon Street would cross (it is directly behind the small mobile home park), this switch has been spiked and isn't usable anymore. The other segment of belt on the "west end" is what NS uses to get to the M&W track from 23rd Street to Madison Street.

The Muncie & Western is also almost all gone, leaving only a little associated trackage still inside the Ball property. What little is left, most is buried in earth from years of non-use. The M&W filed to abandon itself officially in 1995, total abandonment of 3.72 miles of track. The Muncie and Western Railroad Company (MWRC) was held to be an employer under the Acts effective January 1, 1937. It ceased operations March 2, 1995, and completed sale of its assets by June 1995.(*source: railroad retirement board*)

Currently NS switches the Ball property, NS installed Continuous Welded Rail back in 1998 on the belt from 23rd Street to Walnut Street, with plans on installing it from Walnut Street on east (this has yet to happen for the Walnut Street to 18th Street portion). This rail was "relay" rail from the NS mainline that wasn't suitable for use in other places.

Matt Lappin

I dropped Matt a note after a local railroader pointed out that there were actually two Belts. One owned by the PRR and the other by the NKP. - rph

Matt replied:
You know, the NKP and PRR belt does make more sense. Years ago I was told by a friend of my grandfathers that the belt was actually two disconnected segments, and that the real "Muncie Belt" was nothing more than through terminal trackage that belong to the Muncie Western!. This might explain why the belt didn't own land from Macedonia to 18th Street. Although everything I have seen shows the the "Muncie Belt" was its own railroad owned by several railroads. Since the PRR line from Matthews came into town, followed the C&O and ran all the way to the MW just south of 12th Street. The Belt, ran from a connection at Vance, via its own track in between the C&O Mainline and the PRR Matthews line.

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