the 1840s, with limited methods of shipping and receiving
goods, the Salem business community decided a railroad
might be the answer to their problems.
businessmen met with New Albany businessmen at what is
now Borden and on July 8, 1847, organized the New Albany & Salem
Rail Road. The intention was to building a line from the
Ohio River to Salem.
began the following year, with the line reaching Borden
and Pekin in 1850 and Salem in 1851.
Jan. 14, 1851, the first passenger train arrived from New
Albany and was greeted by 5,000 people who had assembled
in downtown Salem to witness the historic event.
railroad’s board of directors, however, had already
decided if they could build a railroad through the forests
of southern Indiana to Salem, they could build one the
full length of the state. By the time that first train
arrived in Salem, much of the right-of-way had been acquired
to build north to Michigan City.
1854 the railroad was complete, connecting the Ohio River
at New Albany with Lake Michigan at Michigan City.
the cost of construction and other problems forced the
railroad into receivership in 1858 and when it emerged,
Salem was no longer part of the name. It was now the Louisville,
New Albany & Chicago Railroad. In 1897, the name was
changed again to the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville
Monon’s purchase of the line from Indianapolis to
Chicago in 1881 created an “X” out of the system,
with the two lines crossing at the town of Monon. From
this came the railroad’s nickname.
important addition to the line occurred in 1887 when the
Monon purchased a small railroad that was being constructed
from Orleans into the French Lick-West Baden Springs area.
This line gave the Monon fame among travelers because of
the many people who rode Monon trains to the French Lick
Springs and West Baden Springs resort hotels in these two
1956, the Monon Railroad became the road’s official
1971, the Monon was merged into the Louisville & Nashville
Railroad which subsequently became a part of other
systems. Currently, the old Monon line through Washington
County is part of the massive CSX system.
Depot commemorates the role Salem residents had in organizing
the railroad that served Indiana for 120 years. Portions
of its track continue to serve the state.
learn more about the railroad, The
Monon Railroad Historical/Technical Society maintains
a web site that provides an invaluable collection of data
you'll enjoy reviewing.