The U.S. state of Indiana has the nickname of being the ‘Hoosier State’. How does the state get that name? There is no real known answer to the question, but there is a theory being that Indiana is not one of those states that comes first to many people’s mind that the word ‘Hoosier’ comes from the phrase ‘who’s there’. The definition is simply a resident of the state of Indiana. Many travel experts would tell you that there is nothing to the state of Indiana. Sadly, they are mistaken not knowing that the state is the home of one of sports hallowed grounds known by many racing fans as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which hosts the Indianapolis 500, the greatest Indy Car race in the world. The southern part of the state in the Louisville, Kentucky metropolis, and horse racing fans are fully aware of another hallowed ground known as Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously running sporting event in the world, and it is part of what is known as ‘The Triple Crown’. It is also a big basketball state, and South Bend is home to the University of Notre Dame, a university famous for its football team.
Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful about the state of Indiana, but does this state have anything to offer other than sports?”
That is a great question. Did you know that the city of Indianapolis has the second largest number of monuments of any city in the world? (Washington D.C. is number one.) The three longest routes in the United States (U.S. 6, U.S. 20, and U.S. 30) all pass through Indiana, and the longest interstate route (Interstate 90) passes through Indiana. If that is not enough, the city of Elkhart is called the Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World. How? Many recreational vehicles are manufactured here, and it is the home of the RV Hall of Fame.
As for railroads, many the America’s major railroads passed through the state of Indiana. The New York Central System had Elkhart as one of the railroad’s hubs (it is home to the New York Central Railroad Museum), and it is a hub for the Norfolk Southern Railroad today. We can go on about the many great sites and accomplishments of the state of Indiana, but one of the great sites you will see is a great railroad site that bears the state’s nickname.
Welcome to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana. Located in the northwestern region of the state, it is a short drive from the major cities of Indianapolis and Chicago, Illinois. What will you see here?
You begin inside a replica of a Chesapeake and Ohio Railway depot. Here you will see photos and photos and photos of trains that passed through North Judson. You will see the ticket office and a bench used for passengers in the waiting room. You will see a model train running around the top of the museum. Of course, you will also find the gift shop where you can buy a souvenir from the museum with proceeds going to the museum itself.
Wait a minute. You do not want to come here to see pictures of trains. You want to see trains.
Well then. It is time to go outside. You cross the tracks. You see so many cabooses and locomotives. Where do you begin? How about starting with Caboose 1989 from the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad. You can see the old commuter passenger from the Long Island Railroad. How about Caboose Number 9914 from the Illinois Central Railroad which has a small museum inside?
Be advised that you have a good-sized list of rolling stock here, but there is more to this museum.
You have an old switching tower and a watchman’s shanty, and you can also visit the shops. Here, you can see dedicated volunteers rebuilding and refurbishing locomotives and rolling stock.
There is so much that you can see at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. If this is not enough, you can also take a train ride. Train rides happen from May through October and during special events like Easter and Christmas.
The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is an all-volunteer organization. There is no paid staff. It is at 507 Mulberry Street in North Judson, Indiana, a few blocks north of Indiana Route 10. The museum is open every Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm year-round, but train rides only take place from May to October. The museum is free, but they will gladly accept donations to keep the museum open and to help with the costs of refurbishing the equipment. There is a cost to ride the train. Parking is on site. You can get information about the museum to include the train rides and to see more of their equipment at http://www.hoosiervalley.org/.
Now, what was this about there being nothing special about the state of Indiana? There are many great places in this state. The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is one of them. It is an out-of-the-way museum in an out-of-the-way town worth going out of the way for.