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Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum Rare Mileage Trip ~ May 11th, 2013

by Elizabeth Guenzler

This was the first of the 2013 Bart Jennings' rare mileage trips, sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum. I was really looking forward to visiting this museum and there was plenty to see and photograph upon Chris' and my arrival.

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum History

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum has been preserving railroad history in northwest Indiana since 1988 and has slowly evolved into the premier tourist destination in Starke County. HVRM started with little more than a single stub of track, an old steam locomotive and the dream of creating a working railroad museum that everyone can enjoy. Driven by that dream, HVRM was literally built from the ground up through the hard work and dedication of its volunteer members.

Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 2789 was taken out of service by the C&O in 1955. In 1961, through the efforts of the Miami County Steam Locomotive Association, it was placed on static display in the city park at Peru, Indiana. In 1988, the steam locomotive was relocated to North Judson, Indiana, and resides today at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum where efforts are slowly progressing to repair and restore the engine back into operating condition. Since the spring of 1988, and with just 2789 on the end of a stub track, the concept of building a working railroad museum has become a reality. Track and switches have been relaid on the abandoned right-of-way of the Erie Railroad through North Judson. Several railroad buildings have been moved to the museum site over the years, including Grasselli Tower. A 60' x 100' donated building was relocated and reassembled in 1994-95 and now serves as the museum's backshop, where repair and restoration work continues on the C&O 2789. The shop has since been expanded twice with the east annex addition in 2004 and the west annex addition in 2008.

The museum has over thirty pieces of rolling stock in its collection, most awaiting repair and restoration. Freight cars of various types, several designs of cabooses, operable diesel switch engines and an Orton locomotive crane comprise the bulk of the museum collection. The railroad museum also has a disassembled 100' turntable in it collection. Museum volunteers hope to reinstall the turntable in the near future. All the work of building the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum has been and is being done through the efforts of the museum's own membership. The land, track materials, buildings, freight cars and locomotives have all been made possible through the generosity of many local and non-local individuals, companies, and corporations.

HVRM occupies the former Chesapeake and Ohio passenger depot near what was once the junction of the Erie, Pennsy, C&O and New York Central lines in North Judson. At the height of railroad operations in the town, as many as one hundred and twenty-five trains passed through here every day.

Our Visit

The donor sign for the Grasselli Tower, which had been donated by the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad (IHB).

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum was given the opportunity to acquire a very unique piece of railroad history, Grasselli Tower, which used to stand along Kennedy Avenue in East Chicago, Indiana and guarded the junction between the IHB, Elgin, Joliet and Eastern and Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroads. IHB decommissioned the tower during the latter part of 2007 and promptly offered the tower to the HVRM. Grasselli was one of the last remaining interlocking railroad towers in Northern Indiana. The name "Grasselli" came from a long-gone chemical plant located near the tower that was served by the IHB.

View of the part of the grounds from the tower.

The track board. This was the first tower I had ever been in. We then started to look around the buildings and grounds.

Erie-Lackawanna S1 310 (nee Erie 310) built in 1947 and donated to the museum in 1997.

Chesapeake and Ohio 2-8-4 2789 built in 1947.

HVRM 44 ton switcher 27 (ex. Port of Indiana 1776, exx. Chicago Gravel Company 509, exxx. McGraw Construction, exxxx. U.S. Army 7308, nee Day and Zimmerman 4-44.) It is on loan from Mike Skomac and arrived at the museum in 1988.

Close-up of the HVRM emblem and number on the switcher.

Former Long Island Railroad RS-1 467 lettered RPCX and owned by a private individual.

This Orton 20-ton self-propelled crane was built for Purdue University in 1945. It was originally gasoline-powered but was converted to diesel in 1960. Purdue University had two coal fired power plants at its West Lafayette, Indiana campus and, when the first power plant was taken off line in 1985, this crane became surplus. Purdue eventually donated it to the museum in 1992.

Long Island Railroad caboose 58 built in 1961. It was donated to HVRM between 2009 and 2010 and underwent restoration at the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum. Its former home was in Glade Spring, Virginia.

Merchants Dispatch Transportation (MDT) refrigerator car 14070 (nee NRC 20063 1958).

Merchants Dispatch Transportation (MDT) refrigerator car 13385 built in 1956 and donated in 1985.

Norfolk and Western boxcar 54880 built 1937. It was converted to maintenanace-of-way service in 1972 and donated to the museum by Norfolk Southern in 1989.

Grand Trunk Western caboose 75072 built from a 40' boxcar and donated in 2006.

Metra Electric Highliner coach 1502 (ex. Metra 1502 1987-2008, exx. Illinois Central Gulf 1502 1972-1987, nee Illinois Central 1502 1971-1972). Donated in 2008.

Metra Electric Highliner coach 1529 (ex. Metra 1529 1987-2008, exx. Illinois Central Gulf 1529 1972-1987, nee Illinois Central 1971-1972). Donated in 2008.

Great Lakes Locomotive C-420 850 (ex. Louisville, Albany and Corydon Railroad 850, exx. Iowa Intersate 850, exxx. Green Bay and Western 323, exxxx. Conrail 2075, nee Lehigh and Hudson River 27). It was acquired by HVRM in 2010.

Kalamazoo, Lake Shore and Chicago (KLR) heavyweight coach 950 (ex. Michigan Northern Railroad 407 "City of Saginaw", exx. Algoma Central, exxx. Denver and Rio Grande Western 930, nee DRGW 899).

Chicago, South Shore and South Bend coach 4.

Chicago, South Shore and South Bend coach 31.

Coronet Phosphate Company 0-4-2T 6 (ex. Borden Company 6, exx. Smith-Douglas Company 6, exxx. Coronet Phosphate Company 6, nee Cia Generale des Phosphates de la Floride 6) built 1913. In 2015, it was bought by a private individual and moved to Strasburg, Colorado for restoration.

A view into the coal chute of Chesapeake and Ohio 2-8-4 2789's tender.

The replica North Judson station that houses a museum and gift shop.

Museum scene inside the station.

Chicago Railroad Fair and Pullman advertisement. I returned outside and went signal-hunting.

A wig-wag signal.

A signal bridge.

A variety of signals.

Interlake Steel Corporation 95 ton switcher 11 (nee Acme Steel 11) which was the motive power for today's excursion.

Long Island Railroad coach 2937 (nee LIRR 147) built 1956, part of the consist of our train.

HVRM open car made from Nickel Plate flat car 1946.

Erie-Lackawanna caboose C345 (ex. Conrail 21139 1976, exx. EL C345 1960, nee Erie 345 1953). Donated to the museum by Conrail in 1985.

Nickel Plate Road caboose 471 (ex. Wheeling and Lake Erie 557571, exx. Norfolk and Western 555571, nee Nickel Plate Road 471 1962). Donated to museum by Norfolk Southern in 1995.

Hoosier Valley Railroad departures board for this day showing the regular train and our special rare mileage train. As we had plenty of time before our special train left and it was trying to rain, Chris suggested we ride the 13:30 train to English Lake, so we bought tickets and boarded.

My ticket for this trip.

Myself enjoying my first time on the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum train.

A flagman protecting the crossing of our train.

Horses grazing along the route.

Indiana farmland and rural country roads.

Looking back along the route we had just travelled.

This old Pennsylvania Railroad grain silo caught me by surprise.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad bridge over the Kankakee River.

Looking along the bridge over the Kankakee River.

Milepost 218 which was as far as the regular train goes. We started the return trip.

Views of the Kankakee River.

Semaphore signal at the North Judson station. I stayed on the train and the rest of our group soon joined.

Interlake Steel Corporation 95 ton switcher 11 running around on the siding before the rare mileage trip to La Crosse.

The engine being coupled up to the other end of our train.

Erie-Lackawanna S1 310 was brought outside.

My ticket for the rare mileage excursion.

Rounding the curve as we departed North Judson.

A water canal that is used by farmers in the area.

Arriving at LaCrosse for a short stop.

Since there were no washrooms on board, a stop at the LaCrosse Public Library was made and I was surprised to see a Pennsylvania Railroad position signal here. I then took advantage of the sun to photograph the consist.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas flat car 13833 made into an open car.

Long Island coach 2937.

Elgin, Joliet and Eastern transfer caboose 184, built in 1970.

Bessemer and Lake Erie caboose 1989 (nee Elgin, Joliet and Eastern 510), built 1956 and donated in 1989.

Interlake Steel Corporation 95 ton switcher 11.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum 25th Anniversry emblem and our engineer.

Interior view of Long Island coach 2937.

The south leg of the LaCrosse wye.

We ran around the east leg of the wye.

Continuing on our route, a small lake was passed.

Cows were grazing in this field.

Red barns were dotted throughout the countryside as we made our way to Thomaston.

We stopped just short of the Thomaston crossing as there was another train in front of us. This was our turn-around point.

On the return trip, Chesapeake and Indiana (IBCX) SD-M 811, showing its Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range history, was on a siding. When the train reached LaCrosse, we detrained to watch the switching take place.

Interlake Steel 95 ton switcher reversing on the wye for the return trip to North Judson.

The switcher then reverses to couple up to our train.

Seeing the sun's rays through the clouds is something special.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad bridge over the Kankakee River.

We returned to North Judson but kept going east, crossing Main Street.

The west end of the Erie Trail starts here.

The end of our rare mileage trip on the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum trackage.

On the way back to North Judson. We all detrained and Chris and I drove back to Michigan City for dinner then had a longish drive up to Grand Haven, Michigan as the next day's trips were in that state.

This had been a fantastic day of train riding and seeing everything that the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum has to offer. Thank you to Bart and Sarah Jennings, as well as the museum, for organizing such a fun trip.