Railroads of Madison County - NKP to NS|
Lafayette, Muncie & Bloomington
Norfolk and Western
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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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