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home : columnists : columnists August 21, 2017

7/10/2017 4:00:00 AM
Meeting tonight about the train
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonThe Nickel Plate Road No. 426 travels down Eighth Street in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse in downtown Noblesville in 2014.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

The Nickel Plate Road No. 426 travels down Eighth Street in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse in downtown Noblesville in 2014.

By Betsy Reason

While I don't display a "Save the Train" sign in my front yard, my hope is that we can save the train, that is, our Nickel Plate Road railroad track.

I love to hear the whistle blow as it travels through downtown Noblesville. The train travels down the middle of Eighth Street, from Logan to Division streets. We're one of only five Indiana cities and towns where the train still travels right down the middle of the street, forcing drivers to share the road.

While sometimes the train travels at peak traffic times and it may be a small inconvenience to drivers, the train to a lot of us here in Noblesville is a welcome sight bringing back memories of days gone by.

The railroad has not operated for a year, since the Hoosier Port Authority shut it down, after the Indiana Transportation Museum, operator at the time, failed to complete safety improvements on the tracks, according to reports.

At Saturday's 26th annual Noblesville Street Dance, we sadly missed the nostalgic caboose rides that would continually take loads of passengers from downtown to Forest Park's Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) during the dance. We rode the caboose every year during the Street Dance. I've also taken the Dinner Train excursions and the FairTrain to the Indiana State Fair, and I've even had the opportunity to pump a handcar on the tracks through Forest Park.

Currently, the ITM offers only 20-minute caboose rides inside the museum's Forest Park facility on weekends.

Quoting the ITM, "There are few places in the United States today where you can climb aboard an authentic, historic train and travel with staff and service representative of the past."

The Peru & Indianapolis was incorporated Jan. 19, 1846, to connect Indianapolis with the Wabash and Erie Canal at Peru. Construction began at Indianapolis in 1849 and service began over 21.42 miles of line to Noblesville on March 12, 1851. .

Our train engages and inspires futures generations. And it is my hope that people will realize the benefits of preserving the railroad.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which operates the railroad, will have a public meeting at 7 p.m. today in Room A214 at Noblesville CIty Hall, with discussion of proposals to operate the train. The community is invited. For more about the Save The Nickel Plate Road organization, visit its Facebook page. For more about the history of our train, visit itm.org

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 10, 2017
Article comment by: Millie St John

Most of all, I want to preserve our heritage. Maybe not quite as important is the tourist factor. My husband and I traveled extensively and always went out of our way to visit towns that had preserved their trains. The opportunities are endless. Haunted Train, Santa Train, the obvious Fair Train and Dinner excursion. So many more. With a little imagination and advertising, it would more than pay for its upkeep. We've lost enough history here in Noblesville. Don't let this go too. We have trails. We only have one train.

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