The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, North Judson, Indiana

The depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana

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.

Bessemer and Lake Erie Caboose Number 1989 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful about the state of Indiana, but does this state have anything to offer other than sports?”

The platform at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

Between the Tracks at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

The signals at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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?

Passenger Cars at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

The Ticket Window inside the Depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Wait a minute.  You do not want to come here to see pictures of trains.  You want to see trains.

Old Commuter Passenger Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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?

A Pullman Hospital Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Be advised that you have a good-sized list of rolling stock here, but there is more to this museum.

Caboose Number 471 from the Nickel Plate Road at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

An Old Yard Switch Tower at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

Inside the Ticket Office at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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/.

Number 508 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

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.

Number 2789 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

The West Chester Railroad, West Chester, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad arrives at the Old Market Street Station Site in West Chester, Pennsylvania

What is special about the town of West Chester, Pennsylvania?  Most of you would say that you have never heard of this town unless, of course, you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.  It was originally named Turk’s Head after a local tavern.  It has a courthouse.  Yes, every major town has a courthouse, but this courthouse was designed by Thomas Walter.  Who is Thomas Walter?  He is the same man who designed this structure known as the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.  What other great things are here?  In the 1700’s, it was the center of clockmaking.  In the 1800’s, a wagon wheel company which later made wheels for automobiles was centered here.  In the 1900’s a cream separation company did their operations here, and Commodore computers were also assembled here.  Today, this suburb of Philadelphia is the home of West Chester University and many other historic buildings, but it is also home to one of the nation’s oldest railroad routes.

Inside a Passenger Car on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad.  Today, the railroad is an excursion railroad, but, in the beginning, it was a major passenger railroad.  Beginning in 1831, the West Chester Railroad Company took passengers to and from West Chester.  Twenty-five years later, the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad continued the service.  The Pennsylvania Railroad took over in 1858, and it became a passenger and freight railroad.  The railroad became electrified during this time.  The station on Market Street, officially named the West Chester Passenger Station, was a hustling and bustling place.  Then, the Penn Central Railroad took over, and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority began commuter train service to West Chester.  The great West Chester Passenger Station, sadly, was demolished after a fire destroyed the station… but those trains kept coming.

Looking Down Across a Bridge on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Today, the West Chester Railroad Company is owned by the Four States Railway Service Incorporated, and it is operated by the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association, an all-volunteer company who works and maintains the equipment, and makes sure that your ride is very enjoyable.  The railroad is no longer electrified, but the poles that held the electrification wires remain.

People Waiting for the Train in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Some of you are saying, “This is all wonderful.  I like that this railroad has a great history, but what good is a railroad that has a great history if you cannot take a ride on it?”

Chester Creek

You can ride this train.  This is part of the magic of this railroad.  Unfortunately, it does not take you to downtown Philadelphia, but you can ride just short of eight miles to the town of Glen Mills.  You arrive at the station which is located at the western end of the track line.  (The tracks continued west but have been taken up.)  You board the train from the original platform that many have boarded from.  When the times comes, the train leaves the station.  You pass by the railroad and see the vintage locomotives and rail equipment.  The next thing you notice is that you are surrounded by forest, and you are following Chester Creek.  You will need to be reminded that you are in suburban Philadelphia because you will be totally unaware at this point, but you are not concerned because you are riding on a train.  You come upon the Westtown Station (now an art gallery) with its upstairs.  You then come to the Cheyney Station (not open to the public), and then come to the Lockley Station where you wish you could watch the trains go by but wait.  You are on the train.  You then arrive at Glen Mills, the home of a spectacular train station.  You deboard the train and stroll around.  You go into the station which houses a small museum and has the ticket office in its original look.  You walk to the back of the train and down to a small park next to the creek with picnic tables by the creek.  After a short visit, you must return to the train and head back to West Chester.

The West Chester Railroad on a Bridge Crossing Chester Creek in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad is in West Chester, Pennsylvania at 230 East Market Street (Pennsylvania Route 3 East) just blocks from the town center.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at http://wcrailroad.com/.

The Old Train Station at Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad, a railroad that keeps its own history on track.

The West Chester Railroad at the Glen Mills Train Station in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania