Riley to the Chinook Mine

The Riley Coal Spur

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Photo by Howard E. Espravnik.

The spur from the CSX main line southwest of Terre Haute to the Chinook Coal Mine, just past Riley, Indiana, is completely in place but hasn't seen a train in almost 10 years. The branch line was originally the New York Central's branch line to Petersburg, IN. The track branched off from the NYC Saint Louis line at First Street, then headed south to Petersburg, and eventually made it to Evansville, IN. The line originally crossed the CSX at-grade (formerly C&EI), along with another diamond crossing the Milwaukee Road (SOO, CP, now INRD) at a location called "Spring Hill Tower".

The section of track between the branch's terminus at the NYC St. Louis line and Springhill is still in service; it is operated by a local shortline that serves a large grain elevator in town.

In early 2005, a wrecked Operation Lifesaver Caboose sat on the edge of a golf course without trucks, just a few feet from the line. Another CSX caboose sat on the spur about a half mile from the main, and had seen more than its share of graffiti. The signal light on the spur shows red for going to the main and hasn't been green in an very long time.

Thanks to Jeremy Harris and Howard E. Espravnik for contributing information about this route.

The pictures that have been gathered above for this spur join my favorites among the many articles I've read on this site. It's a real find when an abandoned line or spur remains in place and mostly intact as is the case with this one, and it makes for excellent photographs. Great job!

If I ever stumbled upon an abandoned spur as intact as this one and was not able to drop what I was doing and explore it with a camera, I think I would go crazy.

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY
1/20/2009

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The line from Grahm Grain to springhill is now abaondon, the line goes south to the junction between 7th st and 3rd st.Now uses the track to take it east to the old milwaukee that paralells Canal Rd in Terre haute the tracks and signals are still there for now, I belive they will be removed in warmer months to come in 2010. For more info contact the Terre Haute Tribune Star they and WTHI TV did coverage on the abandonment of this line in 2009.

John murphy
Terre Haute, IN
1/12/2010

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06-22-10

I just went driving down the gravel county roads that crisscross the now reclaimed mine property, intentionally looking for the north-south crossings of this spur, and found one all but completely hidden by grass and shrubs (my only tip-off was a tall wood post, where crossbucks must have once been mounted, so I stopped and noticed the crossties lining the tracks across the gravel path).

This rail spur is nowhere near as pristine as these existing photos show, unfortunately.

Anthony
Terre Haute, IN
6/22/2010

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I'm not sure exactly when the other pictures were taken but it was clearly some time ago. All of the conveyors and gantries are gone, just the two huge silos remain with a few of the maintenance / administration buildings.

Anthony Korzeniewski
Terre Haute, IN
8/24/2010

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I took the origional pictures in 2005.

Howard Espravnik
Nashville, TN
8/28/2010

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The city of Terre Haute pulled the crossing signals out today 11/23/2010. 7th and Margret where disrupted.I was actually surprised it was not CSX. However they're gone and if you like to collect old railraod signals you'd be pretty shaken up how they treated these historic signals. Like firewood.

John Murphy
Terre haute, IN
11/23/2010

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I traveled from I-70 thru Riley down 159, to Harlan Road on my way to Vincennes hundreds of times in the early 2000s. As of late 2003 and maybe later, there were multiple CSX flats parked on this line just north of Lama and west of SR 46 (by the old pizza shop). If I ever modeled a spur line, this would be the one!

Aaron
Crawfordsville, IN
6/28/2011

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want photo of wrecked ops cabbose

austin
m, IL
6/3/2015

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