Author Topic: Madison Hill  (Read 2450 times)

Dan Lawecki(Guest)

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Madison Hill
« on: October 10, 2006, 06:25:17 AM »
My wife and I visited Madison, IN for the first time last weekend.  In addition to enjoying the fine weather and beautiful scenery down there, we spent some time exploring the Madison Incline, the 5.89% grade on the former PRR line that drops down into the riverfront area from the top of the hill in North Madison.  We hiked a portion of the incline, but the growth of bushes and small trees on the right-of-way discouraged us from walking the entire route.

I'd like to hear from anyone out there who is familiar with the line, and can shed some light on former operations in Madison, both along the riverfront and at the top of the hill.  There are a number of spurs still in place at the top of the hill, but it doesn't appear as though the Madison RR provides service to this area.

Finally, can someone tell me to which PRR division the line between Madison and North vernon belonged?  I know that the line was part of the Southwestern Division in 1963, but what about the 1950s or earlier?

Dan Lawecki


Cheviot_Hill

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2006, 07:14:06 PM »
I was involved somewhere on the internet on this very topic. Sinse then I have found a site with the info your looking for. Hope it helps. It makes for some nice reading. Lots of info.
http://hometown.aol.com/ma393/railroad/index.htm

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2006, 10:31:36 PM »
I believe operations south of North Madison (ie down the incline to the river) today are limited to only as-needed traffic.  The line may even be officially out of service.  I think the last time it was used was for a transformer loaded off of a barge, but I could be wrong about that.
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Cheviot_Hill

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2006, 10:50:56 PM »
The last time the line was used was in 1992. Indiana Electric Corp helped with some track maintedance, and moved equipment from the top of the hill to the power plant below. So it may have been that transformer movement. Madison RR intends to keep it intact just in case it's needed.

Dan Lawecki(Guest)

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2006, 06:17:26 AM »
Thanks, guys, for your reply.  The website that Cheviot_Hill mentioned is actually available as a book that I purchased when we were in Madison.  That book and several other railroad-related books are available from the Jefferson County Historical Society in Madison.  They're right next door to the former PRR depot.

Mentioning the depot, for a mere two bucks you can take a guided tour of the place.  The guide is very informative, and there are dozens of photos, diagrams and artifacts to keep everyone's interest.  It's well worth the visit.

Dan Lawecki

INprinter

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2008, 08:58:51 PM »
Drove down towards Madison, IN to take a look at Madison Hill. Haven't been down that way in a few years and was just wondering how much more things have deteriorated since then. I can't say that things have improved any and in fact the ROW has been paved over at the bottom of the hill. The top portion of the hill is fully overgreen in trees and weeds and I don't think a train could get through there now without a whole lot of work being done first. I don't think it was quite this bad when I was there last but it wasn't much better. Looks like this is only for the history books.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2008, 09:53:10 PM »
About a month ago someone in town got some of the people serving community service court time and cleaned the line up starting right down by the river to the east of the incline, last I read the Hill has been cleaned up and Cathy Hale up at the Madison Railroad said they would spray for weeds so you could walk along the old ROW up/down the Hill. There are a couple of washouts on the Hill from what I have been told, would like to hike it some day. There is really nothing at the bottom of the Hill that would make using the line worthwhile, most of the industry is up on the top now. At the very top is a plastic factory that has a covered hopper sitting there most of the time.
Have a good and safe day!

Go Reds!

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2008, 11:05:20 PM »
One has to wonder how well a small passenger excursion would work on that segment.
Not saying it would work, but it would be fun to ride.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2008, 08:24:51 AM »
One has to wonder how well a small passenger excursion would work on that segment.
Not saying it would work, but it would be fun to ride.

.. or to just take a hand cart to the top and let it go. Riding the cart on the way down might be stupid but life is short.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2008, 12:39:02 PM »
.. or to just take a hand cart to the top and let it go. Riding the cart on the way down might be stupid but life is short.

LMAO, it would be very short once you got on the hand cart!

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2008, 07:14:01 PM »
Probably should be wielding a chain saw on the way down, at least the upper portion of the hill. The sudden stop at the paved over blacktop street at the bottom could be a real tooth buster.

Inprinter
Shelbyville-1st RR in IN: 7/4/1834. 1st RR abandoned in IN: K&S RR 1854, 26 miles. Making IN RR history. Without photons photography would be a black art. You can never get cornered in the Roundhouse.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2008, 08:51:32 PM »
Interesting pics, inprinter.  They may as well allowing hiking, there sure won't be any more trains on that line.
No train expert here fellas, just your average history buff...

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2008, 09:28:28 PM »
you would be sad what a innocent tie and surface job can do to a railroad. 
I'm sure with a few hundred grand you could have the line up to 20mph in little time..LOL

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2008, 11:19:11 PM »
I want a short excursion train on the hill as well. Why hasn't the Madison Railroad Station and Historical Society worked with the town to get this running. Ride the train to the top to the bluff. Wish Cliffy Falls State Park was right beside the right of way.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2008, 12:23:49 AM »
You know, one early attempt at putting ROW up that hill goes right through what is now Clifty Falls park. The old Tunnels are still there. You can walk through them when following the hiking trails. I would suggest taking a flashlight and don't wear your Sunday best either. I think that was prior to the existing ROW by a few years and those folks went bankrupt. I think they ran them out of town on a rail or something as well. It's been awhile since I read that story so the details are a little fuzzy.

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Shelbyville-1st RR in IN: 7/4/1834. 1st RR abandoned in IN: K&S RR 1854, 26 miles. Making IN RR history. Without photons photography would be a black art. You can never get cornered in the Roundhouse.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2008, 07:05:19 AM »
You know, one early attempt at putting ROW up that hill goes right through what is now Clifty Falls park. The old Tunnels are still there. You can walk through them when following the hiking trails. I would suggest taking a flashlight and don't wear your Sunday best either. I think that was prior to the existing ROW by a few years and those folks went bankrupt. I think they ran them out of town on a rail or something as well. It's been awhile since I read that story so the details are a little fuzzy.
It's the other way around...the hill line was built first, by inexperienced people who thought the straightest route was best, before realizing that the grade actually mattered.  The tunnel line was an attempt to bypass the hill with an easier grade, but the state went bankrupt before it was finished.

Not sure why the tunnel line was never finished at all...perhaps because Madison lost its importance as a city once railroads reduced the dependence on river travel, so there was less need for a direct and convenient route to the port.
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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2008, 08:10:47 PM »
Thanks for clarifying that point. Didn't they put a cog/gear system on the hill at one time to help get the trains up and down the hill? And, I'm thinking that in some museum in Indy there is an old loco that used to work on the hill and/or was the first loco to get up the hill on traction effort alone. It's been a long time since I read up on the Madison Hill history.

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Shelbyville-1st RR in IN: 7/4/1834. 1st RR abandoned in IN: K&S RR 1854, 26 miles. Making IN RR history. Without photons photography would be a black art. You can never get cornered in the Roundhouse.

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2008, 08:43:22 PM »
Thanks for clarifying that point. Didn't they put a cog/gear system on the hill at one time to help get the trains up and down the hill? And, I'm thinking that in some museum in Indy there is an old loco that used to work on the hill and/or was the first loco to get up the hill on traction effort alone. It's been a long time since I read up on the Madison Hill history.
I do think they used cogs until the Reuben Wells was built.  That was the first locomotive to go up the hill using adhesion alone.  It's now in the basement of the Indianapolis Children's Museum...probably the only exhibit they will permanently keep in the same location.


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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2010, 10:50:59 AM »
http://www.in.gov/library/2516.htm
http://www.in.gov/library/exhibits/counties/JeffersonCo11.jpg
Quote
Railroad cut, Clifty Falls, Madison.
Courtesy of the Indiana Department of Conservation
Photographed by H. M. Flora

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Re: Madison Hill
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2011, 10:14:35 PM »
Was down in Madison today and couldn't resist checking out the old hill line. Looks like someone has cleared a few weeds out of the ROW up into the "cut" area. At that point there has been a small rockslide leaving some large rock debris on the tracks. Looks recent, but that's hard to tell. The rocks hit the rail so hard that they actually bent the rail(see pic). It was a beautiful day on the river.

Inprinter
Shelbyville-1st RR in IN: 7/4/1834. 1st RR abandoned in IN: K&S RR 1854, 26 miles. Making IN RR history. Without photons photography would be a black art. You can never get cornered in the Roundhouse.