A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago Indianapolis and Louisville Railway (Monon)

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The Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway (CI&L), (Monon), known affectionately as the Monon, is Indiana's own. Monon derives from Pottawatomie Indian words that sounded to the first settlers like metamonong or monong and seemingly meant "tote", or "swift running". In 1882, the railroad started printing "The Monon Route" on company maps, later naming itself "Monon - The Hoosier Line" on timetables, letterheads, and rolling stock.(mrh) The railroad took the name Monon since it's mainline from Chicago, Dearborn Station, to Louisville converged with it's branches to Michigan City and Indianapolis at Monon, Indiana. Smaller branches connected points on the Louisville mainline to Victoria, Indiana and French Lick, Indiana.
The Monon, from 1897, operating almost entirely within the state of Indiana, was merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1971. Much of the former Monon right of way is operated today by CSX Transportation.(wik)(mrh)
The Monon directly served six colleges and universities along its line:

June 1937

Monon Herald

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana
DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana
St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana
The university traffic was important enough to the Monon, that the railroad used the schools' colors on its rolling stock as the railroad's official paint schemes.
The Monon line was unusual in that its main line ran down the middle of streets in several cities, most notably Lafayette, New Albany and Bedford.
The main line, of the Monon ran from Chicago to Monon and Louisville, while the lines from Monon to Michigan City, and from Monon to Indianapolis, were operated as branch lines. Another branch line ran from Orleans, Indiana, Southwest, stopping at the West Baden Resort Hotel, and terminating on the
grounds of the French Lick Springs Hotel, where it connects with the Southern Ry.(mrh)
The Monon serviced the French Lick Springs Resort with a Pullman sleeper that would be dropped off at the resort so the patrons could finish their nights sleep.(rp)
In 1946, John W. Barringer III became president of the Monon, changed its operations, built new passenger cars, purchased new diesel F-3's for passenger and mainline freight service, and made the Monon a modern, efficient, and competitive railroad. The Monon Railroad was ons of the first class 1 railroad to become fully dieselized.(mrh)
History of the Chicago Indianapolis and Louisville (Monon) Railway
1847 - The New Albany & Salem Railroad is organized with James Brooks as president.
1854 - The NA&S trackage stretches from the Ohio River (at New Albany) to the Great Lakes (at Michigan City).
1859 - The overextended and struggling NA&S is reorganized as the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway.
1865 - The LNA&C becomes one of twenty railroads to haul Abraham Lincoln's funeral train, from Lafayette, Indiana to Michigan City, Indiana.
1881 - The LNA&C consolidates with the Indianapolis & Chicago Air Line, and the trackage of the new division is soon extended to reach into its namesake cities.
1897 - The LNA&C is reorganized as the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway Co.
1932 - The 300 pound (136 kg) Monon Bell is first presented as the trophy of the annual football matchup between DePauw University and Wabash College.
1933 - Monon in bankruptcy.
1946 - John W. Barringer III becomes President of the Monon, bringing aggressive plans for modernization.
1949 - Final day of steam locomotive service, as the Monon becomes one of the first Class I railroads to fully convert to diesel-electric motive power.
1956 - The CI&L officially adopts its longtime nickname, Monon, as corporate title.
1959 - The Monon's passenger service between Chicago, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana is discontinued.
1967 - September 30 - Final day of regularly-scheduled passenger train service on the Monon.
1971 - The Monon is merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
1982-86 - The L&N is merged into CSX
1999 - Portions of the line around Indianapolis were converted to a bicycle and pedestrian trail known as the Monon Trail.

Monon map

The remains of the line are operated by CSX Transportation. Large segments have been abandoned in recent years: most of the line from Monon southeast to Indianapolis, the line north from Monon to Michigan City, and the line segment between Cloverdale and Bedford (this segment was abandoned largely due to a washout). A portion of the French Lick branch is now home to a railroad museum, with part of the line wired for trolley service.
Amtrak's combined Cardinal and Hoosier State trains traverse the former Monon from Crawfordsville to the Indiana state line near Chicago, with one train in each direction daily. Station stops along the former Monon include Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer.
Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Monon Railway Historical-Technical Society(mrh)
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-summer 2006
To contact our contributors please make a request by Email to: Richard Parks


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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 25, 2009, revised April 28, 2011