hopes to receive grant
to rehabilitate railroad incline
are possibility for restored Incline
(November 2008) Madison residents and visitors
may soon be able to hike a new walking trail along the historic Madison
Railroad Incline, should the City of Madison succeed in obtaining a
$1 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant.
by Konnie McCollum
volunteers led by Bob Greene
and the Madison Correctional Facilitys
Plus Unit have worked for months
clearing the historic railroad Incline.
The city has applied for the grant to rehabilitate the
historic Madison Railroad incline and the stone arch bridge that crosses
Crooked Creek. The project could provide several new tourism possibilities
to Madison. The Incline lies adjacent to the Heritage Trail of Madison,
a bicycle and walking trail, but it has been off limits to the public
because of fallen rocks and dangerous crevices.
Nine local public agencies in the Seymour District applied for $1,34
million in available federal funds for projects, according to Indiana
Department of Transportations Brandy Fichvogt.
Madisons project was certainly a good one, she said.
We will know on Nov. 6 which project or projects were selected
to receive the funds. She said INDOT was not sure whether the
money would be split between several projects or awarded to one single
Cathy Hale, president of Madison Railroad, said grant money would be
used primarily to rehabilitate the steep incline and the historic Crooked
Creek stone arch bridge to allow public access, possibly in the form
of a guided walking trail.
We will not be running a train up the incline, she said.
The track in the area has a natural tendency to erode, and it
constantly needs maintenance.
Instead, Madison Railroad officials are working with the Jefferson County
Historical Society and the Madison Port Authority to develop opportunities
to show railroading as it used to be, including a working example,
The Madison Railroad board has purchased an old passenger coach and
is working to restore the interior of it. The coach will be part of
a special events train that will offer train rides to the public. Madison
Railroad already offers a special Santa Claus train during the holiday
season that transports guests from North Vernon, Ind., to Vernon and
We are putting together a special history train excursion
through part of Madison that will be offered during our Madison Bicentennial
Celebration, said Hale.
Jan Vetrhus, coordinator for the Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee,
said the train excursion will be an exciting opportunity
during the Bicentennial. I believe the train ride will run from
North Madison to Dupont and will feature historic characters on board,
she said. Its going to be a real treat for everyone.
The Madison Bicentennial Committee is also looking for a sponsor to
help purchase a historic hand car that will offer a unique opportunity
for train enthusiasts to experience railroading at its earliest.
by Don Ward
Reuben Wells locomotive that
used to run the incline is on display at
the Children's Museum in Indianapolis.
Community activist Bob Greene, who has played an instrumental
part in clearing debris from the riverside portion of the Heritage Trail
and the Madison Railroad Incline, proposed the idea that a small, hand-operated
railroad car could be a major tourist attraction for Madison.
The railroad tracks between Vaughn Drive and Vernon Street to
Main Street would have to be rehabilitated in order to accommodate the
hand car, said Green, But this opportunity could help re-integrate
the Madison Railroad into the fabric of downtown Madison in a way that
would bring enormous economic opportunity to the community.
Greene, with the help of other volunteers, including a specialized unit
of women offenders from the Madison Correctional Facility, has worked
for months on clearing debris along the historic railroad incline and
unique cat steps leading up the steep hill to the Madison
State Hospital grounds.
Greene has envisioned officials eventually opening up the landmarks
for unique historic walking trails that would offer tourists and residents
more opportunity to experience Madisons historic legacy.
I call the railroad Incline and the cat steps the greatest architectural
landmarks in Madison, said Greene. What a tremendous contribution
these make to our already rich historic tradition. It will be wonderful
when residents and tourists can walk these sites and experience the
magnitude of effort that went into the making of these landmarks.
Hale praised Greene for his enthusiasm in clearing the Incline. We
are very appreciative of the work that Bob Greene and the Madison Corrections
workers have done on the Incline, she said. Weve been
looking for some time at options to best use the incline. Bob Greenes
enthusiasm has pushed us ahead of schedule.
When Greene and the other volunteers finish clearing what they can along
the Incline, Hale said railroad authorities hope to move in with equipment
and remove the boulders on the track.
The Madison Railroad incline was built by 1,000 Irish immigrants over
a four-year period in 1836-1841 as part of Indianas 1836 Internal
Improvement Act. The incline measures 7,012 feet long and elevates 413
feet to achieve a 5.89 percent grade. More than 500,000 tons of rock
and earth were moved in construction. It is still considered to be the
steepest standard gauge main track ascended by wheel-adhesion locomotives
in the United States. The locomotive, the Rueben Wells, that used to
run on the Incline, is on display inside the Indianapolis Childrens
Madison Railroad began operation in September 1978. The railroad operates
the remaining segment of Indianas first rail line, the Madison
and Indianapolis Railroad, which dates back to 1836. The railroad was
the oldest in the Pennsylvania system west of Harrisburg, Pa.
Madison Railroad has been owned and operated by the City of Madison
since 1981. The line was purchased from Penn Central in order to maintain
rail service to the community.
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