Elgin, OH to Hammond, IN

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Map submitted by Mike Fromholt.

(Forwarded from the Cincinnati & Eastern Railway)

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The bridge over Saint Mary's River in Decatur, Indiana reveals the mainline was double-tracked in this area. Photo by Mike Fromholt, March 2012.

This would be the ex Erie aka Erie Lackawanna line. It started out as the Chicago and Atlantic Railroad, later Erie. Later a merger would rename this line the Erie Lackawanna. Lastly it would be known as the Erie Western, then Chicago and Indiana, and short segments remained that would become the Tippecanoe Railroad, then JK Line, then lastly owned by the Railamerica Controlled Toledo Peoria and Western who quickly removed the rail from Monterey to North Judson and today is becoming a trail. Another short section remains at Rochester owned by the Fulton County Railroad, but may be part of Grand Elk or Pioneer now and connecting with a former Nickel Plate Road line there. Another short section remains in Decatur, Indiana and is accessed via the former PRR(GR&I)line from Fort Wayne. Lastly, their is a small section left in North Judson ran by the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. I believe the Spencerville and Elgin Railroad ran part of the line near those two towns but has since been abandoned and removed.

Like many of the Eastern Roads, the Erie Lackawanna was nearly bankrupt in the mid 1970's and asked to be included in the creation of Conrail. The West end for some reason was not included in the final plan and the shortline Erie Western attempted to make a go of it, but with little online customers and didn't last but a couple of years before the downward spiral of this once mighty through route between Chicago and New Jersey began it's demise.

Today much has been plowed over by farmers, but small bits remain including some old road bridges, and a few depots. These are becoming rare. For example the Monterey depot is for sale and the Leiters Ford depot has to be moved or it will be razed this month(October 2012). A few old signal posts and milemarkers remain along with a repeater tower and signal bridge near Akron, but thats it. Many say it is too bad this line is not intact, as it would have been a great route for container traffic and hotshot freights with its great engineered right of ways and no major metropolitan areas to slow traffic down. Perhaps one day it will see a rebirth for such needs, but for know once can only imagine what it was like to see the Phoebe Snow passenger train blaze by on the formerly double track raceway.

James Norwood
Logansport, IN
10/17/2012

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Erie-Lackawanna filed for bankruptcy after Hurricand Diane in 1972. Before Conrail became a reality on 4/1/76 Chessie System (CSX yet?) was considering purchasing the EL west of Sterling tower, 20 miles west of Akron. The deal fell thru and EL's fate was sealed. So even if Chessie picked it up, the west end was doomed. It was a glaring redundancy in a retrenching industry.

As for intermodal traffic; the Erie/EL was always a preferred route for time sensitive traffic (perishables, merchandise, etc.) not because of superior engineering, but because the largest city between Chicago and the Hudson River was Akron. Therefore, freight didn't face bottlenecks that go with important rail and traffic centers (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toledo, etc.).

Now as far as engineering, the line was hampered by the Mahoning and Kent Divisions rather than over the Alleganys. It was a sawtooth profile that required eastbount tonnage on a train at Marion would have to be broken into two trains. Same thing for westbounds at Meadville. Regardless of the reasons for its demise, the "Dreary Erie" or "Erie-Lackamoney" will be sorely missed.

dan olah
north bend, WA
6/24/2013

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I have always been interested in the EL and after going on line, I really got to see where the photos in Trains Magazine and began looking at engineering end of the EL in IN. As far as the Erie Western and the Chicago and Indiana are concerned, being owned by the EL estate,and the regulations at the time,and businesses wouldn't wouldn't take the chance of the herebefore mentioned operators wouldn't or couldn't attract more industries online as the lack of online shippers brought down this route and in 1980 the line was largely taken up. Revival is possible,as this was a speedway and I have been looking at several ways to accomplish this end and the door is open to inquirys. and I would be contacted through owner of this website

michael thoma
neillsville, WI
7/28/2013

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