Springfield, OH to Indianapolis, IN

The Springfield Branch

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(Forwarded from the Indiana Eastern Railroad & Transportation)

This mainline of the "Big Four" railroad was a lightly-used line constructed in 1881.

It was abandoned on March 31, 1976 by the Penn Central, the day before Conrail took over PC's properties (among others).

Thanks to Brian Spirito for contributing information about this route.

This line has always held my fascination for some reason. It was built by the Indiana, Bloomington and Western railroad to connect Springfield and Indianapolis. According to Scott Trostel (local rial historian) one crew built from Indianapolis east and another from Springfield west. They met at Ludlow Falls with a golden spike ceremony in May 1881. Ludlow Falls had a small yard with a turntable and roundhouse. There are pictures of this in the Bradford Railroad Museum.

The line was eventually acquired by the CCC and St. L. Railroad. When this was acquired by the New York Central in 1922 the line was upgraded. A lot of the bridge abutments around Troy, OH are dated 1922 and 1923. At the same time the line was cut off just west of Springfield and joined to the NYC main at Cold Springs. The abandoned protion was from downtown Springfield to the curve near George Rogers Clark Park.

There was a collision in the late 1950s at Savona between a train moving on the Cincinnati Northern line of the NYC and this line. The engineer on this line lost his bearings in a fog and ran into the side of the train on the CN line. The crossing was a non-interlocked crossing at grade.

In 1967 a grain elevator was built near Arcanum that was the last major customer on this line. According to Jeremy Taylor's "Sampling of Penn Central" the only trains running in the early 1970's were to serve this elevator and a few other small ones on the line. The line had numerous slow orders as well.

The line was abandoned on March 31, 1976 and was not included in Conrail. I found the train orders for the last train at a railfan website. It listed the engineer as Bill Maines and specifically stated to leave no rail cars on the line.

A small section to the east and west of Arcanum survived into the 1990's to serve the grain elevator I mentioned. It was used by CSX. CSX would send a train up from Dayton through Arcanum, it would back up onto the portion of this line east of Arcanum, pull through town to the west and serve the elevator. It would then reverse the moves and go back to Dayton. This operation ceased in 1993 and the lines were pulled up.

Brian S.
Troy, OH
5/24/2013

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Nice info Brian. Just so you know, I am looking for information on the line in Indiana. If you have anything let me know!

Dave Sutherlin
Mt. Comfort , IN
2/12/2015

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There is a photo in the book "A Sampling of Penn Central" of the Lynn, IN crossing with the Grand Rapids and Indiana line that ran from Richmond to Grand Rapids, MI. Other than that I have had a really hard time finding information on the Indiana side of this line. Some of the information I used in my first post came from a book by Scott Trostel called "The DT&I: Henry Ford's Railroad". He wrote about this line being built as a connection from Indianapolis to Springfield to connect the Indiana, Bloomington and Western Railway (From Indy to Bloomington, IL) with the Ohio Southern (precursor to the DT&I). The IB&W bought the Ohio Southern and needed to connect them. This line came late in the railroad boom and didn't pass through many major cities. It is also the longest route between Springfield and Indy in milage. Therefore it never gained much traffic. I think passenger service ceased around 1950.

Brian Spirito
Troy, OH
2/12/2015

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Hey! thanks for the info! I have a few pictures from the past, one is of the NYC Freight building at Mohawk and the grain elevators at Mohawk, Maxwell. Willow Branch and Wilkinson. I am looking for pictures from the elevator at Mt. comfort.

I have found out from some oldtimers in this community that the elevator at Mt. Comfort and the elevator at Losantville where built by the railroad around 1885 and they where very much alike.

Dave Sutherlin
Mt. Comfort, IN
2/13/2015

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Do you have any pictures or information about The Springfield Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.