Prairie West End
The west end of the Indiana Rail Road is a section most unlike the other sections of the railroad, with its rolling and wide open prairie. Though it is flat, due to poor grading this section does have several steep but short grades, and some sections look for all the world like some amusement park roller coaster. This has roots in the lines narrow gauge upbringings, which the builders paid little attention to grading the right of way. While the section may be written off by most rail fans as uninteresting, and while the line may lack the curiosities of the other sections, there are several merits. For the railroad this section has the highest density of trackside industry along the line and is a significant source of traffic. For the rail fan this section is easily followed and for the most part easily accessed. This is one of the fastest sections of the line, thanks to IC installed welded rail track speed here is 40 miles per hour!
As the line enters Illinois it is on a long wooden trestle which takes it to the outskirts of the town of Palestine. This section is not easily accessed, not due to the lack of roads, but for the frequent flooding that plagues the Illinois side from the Wabash river. The roads are frequently mud bogs. The Illinois side of the Wabash river bridge is only accessible after prolonged dry periods, and then only with a vehicle semi off road equipped.
In the town of Palestine, you will immediately notice the yard, which before the purchase of Hiawatha yard was the largest yard facility on the Indiana Rail Road. This yard serves to sort the cars going to the multitude of industries on the west end, and unlike the yard at SAT, retains the IC style yardmasters house. Now used for a crew office. Power for the west end of the line can often be found here. Most of the yard was rebuilt, and some of it built new, to aid in servicing the growing business on the west end. Palestine was once home to a good sized engine servicing facility, little remains however and overgrowth combined with the expansion have served to obscure what remains.
Heading west out of Palestine, you will notice one of the best roads to pace trains on, the road and the rail line run close together until the outskirts of Robinson are reached.
Robinson is the site of a large Marathon Oil refinery, placed there due to the large deposits of oil in the region. It is also the sight of the former Cairo line diamond, once owned by the New York Central and survived into Conrail ownership. Conrail sold the line to the Prairie Central short line. However due to nasty anti competitive tactics by the Illinois Central, which owned the Palestine to Effingham line at the time. The short line was driven into bankruptcy and abandoned. Robinson is the site of a small yard, which has a primary purpose of serving the Marathon Oil refinery. A fair warning however, Do not take pictures anywhere near the refinery, do not get out of your car, do not drive into the facility, do not stop near the facility. Marathon Oil has -very- aggressive security, it does not matter one bit if you are on public property near the facility, you will be hassled, questioned, and possibly detained. If the train stops here to switch, do your self a favor and visit the old NYC station in town which is the site of a monument, or the always cool Dog N Suds root beer stand in town. Good root beer is always better then dealing with Marathon Security!
West out of Robinson the line follows a direct western track, and strays away from Illinois Route 34 somewhat, but never gets very far to the south. Stoy, Oblong, and Willow Hill are several small towns that dot the landscape here.
Just before Newton is reached, you cross the Embarrass River, the bridge however is untypical for the line and is of a standard design.
Newton is the last town on the INRD heading west, and the sight of a former IC line, which is now mostly abandoned. A section just south of the INRD line is a small yard mostly used to store cars, the town has several small spurs and the line can be easily observed in the town.
On the west side of Newton, is the end of the INRD mainline, reverting to IC ownership west of here. IC comes onto INRD property to interchange cars, before heading back to Effingham. While this is the end of the main, the INRD does go west of here, laid just to the south of the IC line is the INRD built spur to circumvent the IC into the huge Ameren/CIP Lis generating plant. This is the destination of numerous Powder River basin coal trains.
Questions? Comments? E-MAIL ME! EIRR@Railfan.net