High Trestles, Tunnels, and College town
This section of the Indiana Rail Road is of course the cause of most of the lines fame with it's two high sweeping viaducts and its model railroad like tunnel. It is this section alone that attracts the most attention, and not just from the railfan community, The tulip trestle is visited by tourists and locals alike. This area also presents the railroad with its greatest operating challenge, both northbound and southbound ruling grades are found in this section.
Starting as the line descends its way into the valley carved by Bean Blossom creek, it follows a small tributary into this valley, slowly winding its way south. This area was once home to one of the many famous wood bridges in the area, that of Hornettown road. Now a modern concrete span, it is still a great place to watch a northbound grind upgrade the northbound ruling grade towards Morgantown. Just south of this bridge is the tiny hamlet of Fruitdale.
As the line finally encounters the main valley for Bean Blossom creek, the line takes a east west direction to it. Following the valley train you come to Helmsburg and Trevlac, two typical sleepy Brown county towns.
Passing Trevlac you arrive at Lake Lemon, the line crosses the valley here to the south side, at first content to skirt the lake it eventually tips upwards, into the most problematic grade on the Indiana Rail Road. Though it is not the steepest, it is rather long, as the line must climb the valley sidewall in order to track towards Bloomington. In the fall seasons wet leaves often foul the rails, causing much consternation as wheels slip on the long grade.
Ariving at the top of the grade, you immediately find not only a tall trestle, but across that a small tunnel, seemingly no deeper then most railroad cuts. Though not deep this tunnel is tall having plenty of clearance for modern rail cars, The trestle before it is perhaps often overlooked, though looking at it you might wonder why. It serves to bridge the line over a small inlet of Lake Lemon, itself dammed in 1953 for a source of water in Bloomington. Once atop the valley side, the line winds its way towards Bloomington, passing thru Unionville and following the state highway 45 rather closely, until the outskirts of the college town Bloomington
In Bloomington the line skirts the north side of the campus, until it arises atop an elevation that carries it over the streets in downtown Bloomington. The first passing siding since leaving Indianapolis can be found here, and although on the short side is often put to good use. Rarely used for actually meeting trains any longer, a string of appliance box cars can often be found parked in it, as well as more of the cars in the storage tracks on the south side of the tracks. Towards the west end of the siding you will find the former station, occupied now by a tattoo shop and a plumber.
Just to the west of the siding you will find the connection to what is left of the former Monon line, now just a spur to Roger's quarry and the GE appliance factory. A short run around can be found on the former connection between the two lines, and this area is often used to add and remove cars from the manifest trains that pass thru here, and should a coal train happen to be in the area when a manifest is. The manifest will often simply back onto the former Monon line to let the coal train past.
As we leave Bloomington, the line heads thru high country, rolling hills atop a plateau, the line often in a shallow cut and briefly peeking out as a shallow valley is reached. Solsberry is the only sizable town in the area, as the area is mostly wooded.
The line continues like this until you turn a corner and there it is the famous railroad in the sky. Tulip Trestle, or more correctly called Richland Creek viaduct. It carries the line over the Richland Creek valley, saving quite a lot of distance had another route been choosen. Much can be said about the trestle itself, but you have to see it to truly appreciate it.
After this the line continues much like it had been, thru shallow cuts and fills towards the white river, and the coalfields.
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