Railroads of Madison County - NKP to NS
Updated 1/31/2009

NKP 587

Lafayette, Muncie & Bloomington
Lake Erie & Western

Click to see larger NKP Stock Certificate
New York, Chicago & St Louis
(Nickname: The Nickel Plate)

Norfolk and Western
Norfolk Southern

Alexandria NW (NKP) Station 1960s Alexandria Nickel Plate Depot circa 1968
The riders of the NKP (Nickel Plate Road) in Alexandria made good use of this little depot for many years. Even when passenger service had been discontinued, the N&W (Norfolk and Western) continued to use the building for maintenance purposes for a number of years. John Reehling shares some of his memories of this station in the 40s and 50s into the early 60s on the Memory Pages "John Reehling - Of Alexandria, NKP, NYC, Union Traction and more..." - Photo 1 from Ron Buser Collection

NKP Work Crew
A Work Crew on the tracks os the Nickel Plate in Elwood. The young man in the middle of the picture standing on the tracks, is Jim Vest of Elwood, The first man on the right, with shovel, is Steele Vest, head of the crew and Jim's father. Submitted by Mae Williams for Jim Vest.
Tipton Depot 3rd grade class trip 1949
This is a picture of the 3rd grade class from 3rd ward grade school in Tipton. Mrs Katnuss, white haired woman on left side of picture, was the wife of Bill Katnuss who worked on the NKP. She took her class by train to visit the roundhouse in Frankfort every year

Built in 1875/76 across the northern part of Madison County as the Lafayette, Muncie & Bloomongton, the line runs from northeast to northwest through Alexandria, Orestes, Dundee and Elwood. This was to become the Muncie to Frankfort Main of the NYC&StL, the Nickel Plate Road, after ownership passed to the Lake Erie and Western and then to the Nickel Plate. It was a well maintained, high speed, signaled single track main with long passing sidings seeing moderately heavy traffic.

Tipton Depot and Division-Section office
LE&W 1900-1910 &
NKP afterward
The last photo is circa 1945

On October 16, 1964, the NKP, the Wabash and several smaller roads, merged with and were absorbed by the N&W and traffic began to fall off. After the Norfolk Southern (NS) was formed by the merger of the N&W with the Southern (begun in 1982, to be completed in 1990), the importance of this line lessened still more. Pictured below is NS #2859 working its way Eastbound through the gathering dusk.
N&W Muncie Dispach Office, August 13, 1979

NKP 765 2-8-4 Berkshire
In Muncie Indiana about 1980-1983 (?)
Unfortunately, I just don't remember.
NYC&StL Class H-6a 2-8-2 Mikado #587
The Nickel Plate 587 2-8-2 Locomotive in Alexandria Indiana at a passenger stop during a 'Father's Day' Excursion. Front left 3/4 view. June 29, 1991
Norfolk & Western's
4-8-4 Class 'J' passes so close by that you can almost 'feel the breeze' from the drivers as it pulls the "Father's Day" Special in June of 1992 at Alexandria Indiana.

Several Steam excursions were run here, the last two using the Indiana Transportation Museum's NKP 587 in 1991 and the N&W J 611 in 1992. Signaling was removed in 1993 reducing the line to a maximum of 49 mph (30 MPH through Elwood). The line now sees mostly grain shipments with only very little local freight. With the removal of signals and the closing of the NS steam program, it is very unlikely that steam will ever again grace these rails.
NS 2859 Eastbound

CR SD70MAC Changes in the railroads that serve Madision County continue with the breakup of Conrail. Conrail, in an attempt to improve its competitive position in the Eastern United States negotiated a merger with CSX Transportation. Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern (NS) was not at all happy with this prospect and began offering above market value for Conrail stock. On June 2, 1997, Conrail agreed to a merger with CSX Transportation who promptly entered into an agreement with Norfolk Southern to divide Conrail's assets between them (pending approval of the Surface Transportation Board).

Sunset Over Conrail
On July 23, 1997 the STB ordered Conrail to form two wholly owned subsidiaries: New York Central Lines (NYC) and Pennsylvania Lines (PRR) consisting primarily of the old NYC properties and PRR properties. CSX acquired NYC and NS acquired PRR. In Madision County, however, NS acquired the DOW and Marion Branch north while CSX will take the Indianapolis to Cleveland Main, South Anderson Yards and the Emporia Secondary effectively spliting the Ex-NYC properties here.

NS has now installed a connection at Alexandria from its Frankfort Main to the DOW (Marion Branch) in order to route traffic from Muncie to Elkhart. Construction was held up for a short period of time as two property owners refused to sell needed parcels of land to NS.  

NS Connector

Traffic on the East-West Frankfort Main will see increases as well. NS also will obtain trackage rights on the CSX Main from Muncie into South Anderson Yards and to the south end of the DOW.

The STB Timeline was:
* Hears oral arguments, June 4, 1998 (completed)
* Votes on application, June 8, 1998 (STB vote was in favor)
* Publishes its written decision, July 23, 1998 (completed)
* Effective date of the STB decision and the Control Date, Aug. 22, 1998 (completed)
On August 22, 1998, CSX and NS exercised their options and took control of Conrail. CSX assumed control of the 'Big Four' main, South Anderson Yards and the Emporia Secondary with NS taking the DOW and Marion Branch north to Elkhart.

I caught PRR 8444 on the point leaving South Anderson Yards eastbound late in the afternoon. That was the last that I could get. Saturday was clear and bright and the trains were rolling frequently. Today, the rails lie silent as Conrail passes into history and becomes just another fallen flag.

NS GP15-1 - Click for large picture NS stumbled and had created many problems for itself in northern Madison County with trains whose crews had 'Outlawed' (reached their maximum hours of service) and have had to be parked. NS service to the companies on the old DOW has been very poor. Their track runs to within a few feet of the (now) CSX number two main in downtown Anderson with CSX controlling the switch.

However, now (11/28/2007) NS has come alive with numerous trains running from Muncie up the Marion Branch and back and other trains running to Frankfort and back. The old NKP through Alexandria is alive and well.


NS Logo

Picture Credits:
NKP 587 pauses in Alexandria Indiana, June 1991 - Roger Hensley Photo.
Alexandria NKP/NW Station - late 1960s photo from the Ron Buser Collection
Other photos by Roger P. Hensley

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This "Railroads of Madision County" page is written, maintained and hosted by: Roger P. Hensley madisonrails@railfan.net
Copyright 1997--2009 by Roger P. Hensley. Taken from the original work by Roger P. Hensley Copyright 1995.