Erie Lackawanna - Adams County

Adams County map


The Erie Lackawanna entered Adams County and the State of Indiana from the east at Rivare and ran west into Decatur.  It crossed the St. Mary's River on twin bridges and from here it ran along the south side of town, crossing the Penn Central (GR&I) at DA Tower.  The tracks continued westward out of town and crossed US 224.  After this crossing the tracks began to parallel US 224 all the way to Markle.


Just about all of the EL rail has been removed in Adams County except for a small segment in Decatur which is used by RailAmerica.  Dolco Packaging is located on the west side of Decatur and occasionally receives plastic pellets from RailAmerica (CFER) using the Erie Lackawanna mainline west of DA Tower.  The CFER local accesses this trackage from the ex-GR&I via a connector track at Line St.  DA Tower has been gone for quite some time but the radio antenna is still standing.  Buried in the trees between Industrial Park Rd. and W. Monroe St. on the west side of Decatur are two very small segments of the eastward track.  Neither segment is connected to the CFE line nor to each other.  I'm not sure why this portion remains.  At Winchester St. the freight station survives as the Arnold Lumber Company but unfortunately the passenger station did not fair so well.  In 1998 it was torn down and a new boys & girls club was built in its place, stretching out across the EL right-of-way.  Had it survived, the passenger station would have been 150 years old in 2001.  The twin St. Marys River bridges are still standing in Decatur and the north bridge is part of a rail-trail path. A concrete water tower base stands next to the bridges.
Looking westward on the EL right-of-way at County Road 375E, just west of Rivare.  A narrow trail has been blazed through the tall trees which are swallowing up the right-of-way.  The pile of broken-up asphalt is likely the remnants of the one time grade crossing.
The Erie Lackawanna crossed Piqua Rd. at grade.  Here we are looking west down the right-of-way and one telegraph pole remains on the north side of the EL path.
Interestingly at Piqua Rd. are the concrete remnants of the grade crossing on both sides of the road.

At Mercer Ave. (old US 33) in Decatur, this is part of the Kekionga Pathway trail down the EL right-of-way looking east.  To the left is an old concrete water tower base, similar to the one in Rochester, Indiana.  The path leads to the twin bridges across the St. Mary's River (see below).
The pathway continues through the former westbound bridge which is being quickly consumed by trees and other shrubbery.

Pretty creepy.....imagine the NY-100 piggyback train coming through this bridge now.  This trail is not too safe to walk on as it is very secluded and not heavily traveled.

Here is the Erie Lackawanna freight depot at Winchester St. which survives as a storage building for the Arnold Lumber Co.  The tracks were directly in front of the station in this picture.
Looking east down the EL right-of-way you can see the freight depot in the distance.  The large building on the left houses the gymnasium for the Decatur Boys & Girls club and was built halfway across the EL main.  The passenger station was near the left side of this building. Interestingly, this building is painted in Erie structure colors. Coincidence?
A pile of bricks leftover from the old brick platform that once ran alongside the EL mains at the Decatur passenger station.  This platform was torn up along with the passenger station.
Amazingly this is the antenna from DA Tower which guarded the EL/PC diamonds at Decatur.  The tower no longer stands today, but this amazing relic is still here today.  What frequency did it (and the EL) transmit on in Indiana?  161.400 MHz was the main frequency and no you won't hear anything on it these days!
Looking west on the former EL westbound main at Line St. near DA Tower in Decatur.  The track veering off to the right is the connection to the GR&I which is used by the CFER to get on the Erie Lackawanna trackage.  You can see the above antenna mast to the left of the telegraph pole.
An eastbound Erie Lackawanna passes through Decatur, Indiana.
Mimicking the past is C721, the old CSX Fort Wayne to Decatur local, backing up westbound on the EL eastbound main towards the US 27 crossing in Decatur, Indiana.  The only things missing here are the westbound main (to the right) and the attractive maroon, grey, and yellow paint on the locomotives.
July 18, 2000.
The light engines are now returning east, now on the EL westbound main at DA Tower.  This is facing east.  The tan building in the distance behind the engines is the gymnasium of the Decatur Boys & Girls Club and, as you can see, sits atop the northern half of the EL right-of-way.  The track the engines are on used to go through the spot where the gym sits.
July 18, 2000.


DA Tower in Decatur controlled the crossing diamonds with the Penn Central GR&I line, as well as a set of crossovers on either side of the diamonds.  The tower burned down many years ago.  Conrail took over this portion of the line for access to a local shipper after the Penn Central.  RailAmerica's CFE now uses this segment and usage is fairly often.
Looking eastward on the EL at DA Tower.  You can see several of the pull-rod supports for the signals and crossovers still remain on the right.  In the distance is the radio tower once used by operators at DA.  It is just to the left of the 4th telegraph pole from the left.  The track in the foreground is the former eastbound main.  It then curves into the former westbound main.  This location was the west crossover. In the distance the track ends just west of the Decatur Boys & Girls Club gymnasium, which is built atop the northern 1/2 of the Erie Lackawanna right of way.  (56K photo).  Taken 2/11/01.


Between W. Monroe St. and Industrial Park Rd. are two disconnected segments of the EL eastbound main.  Neither segment is connected to the currently used portion.
A sad view facing eastward near W. Monroe St.  It's hard to imagine a train passing on this today.  Some of the trees growing on the tracks here are almost as thick as a telephone pole! (70K photo). Taken 2/11/01.

US 224 Crossing
The Erie Lackawanna crossed US 224 west of Decatur right near County Road 200W.  This is standing atop the right-of-way looking west at US 224.  The tracks were to the left of the billboard.  There is one telegraph pole still standing in the huge clump of trees which now occupy the EL mains.  Hoosier Propane, whose tanks are in this picture, is built on the right-of-way.

As a comparison of this location, check out these two photos on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site, taken by himself in 1965: - Eastbound freight with PA's approaches US 224, approximately where the billboard sign is above. - Looking the other way, the train is passing through what is now Hoosier Propane.
Looking at the site of this former crossing today it's hard to believe anything went through here, let alone two Alco PA beauties.
This is at County Road 400W in Preble, Indiana.  We are looking directly east on the right-of-way which passed to the left of the co-op elevator.  One lone telegraph pole remains far in the distance.
On the west side of Preble is Firemen's Park.  If you enter the park from CR 450W you'll drive on top of the Erie Lackawanna roadbed.  Near the baseball diamond is an Erie concrete telephone shanty and to the left is a concrete whistle post.

At Adams County Road 600W, which passes through Magley, Indiana this is looking east down the Erie Lackawanna.  The tracks were to the right of the tall line of utility poles.  There are just about no signs of the EL here except for a slight hump in the road where the tracks used to cross.

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© Original Content Copyright 1999-2007 David Safdy
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