Postcard photo of the Monon train The Hoosier leaving Dearborn Station in Chicago for Indianapolis in 1960.

Christensen photo-D.C. Wornom Collection.

(Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Monon logo.


The Monon Railroad (reporting mark MON), also known as the Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville Railway (reporting mark CIL) from 1897 to 1971, was an American railroad that operated almost entirely within the state of Indiana. The Monon was merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1971, and much of the former Monon right of way is owned today by CSX Transportation. In 1970, it operated 540 miles (870 km) of road on 792 miles (1,275 km) of track; that year it reported 1320 million ton-miles of revenue freight and zero passenger-miles. (It also showed zero miles of double track, the longest such Class I railroad in the country.)


Railroad artifacts on display at the Monon Connection Museum.

(Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


History Timeline

  • 1847: The New Albany and Salem Railroad (NA&S) is organized with James Brooks as president.
  • 1854: The NA&S trackage stretches from the Ohio River (at New Albany) to Lake Michigan (at Michigan City).
  • 1859: The overextended and struggling NA&S is renamed the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad (LNA&C).
  • April 30, 1865: The LNA&C becomes one of twenty railroads to haul Abraham Lincoln's funeral train, its portion being from Lafayette to Michigan City, Indiana.
  • 1873: The LNA&C Railroad is reorganized as the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railway.
  • 1881: The LNA&C consolidates with the Chicago and Indianapolis Air Line Railway, and the trackage of the new division is soon extended to reach into its namesake cities.
  • July 1, 1897: The LNA&C is reorganized as the Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville Railway.
  • 1932: The 300 pound (136 kg) Monon Bell is first presented as the trophy of the annual football game between DePauw University and Wabash College.
  • 1946: John W. Barriger III becomes president of the Monon, bringing aggressive plans for modernization.
    June 29, 1949: Final day of steam locomotive service, as the Monon becomes one of the first Class I railroads to fully convert to diesel motive power.
  • January 11, 1956: The CI&L officially adopts its longtime nickname, Monon, as its corporate title.
  • 1959: The Monon's passenger service between Chicago and Indianapolis is discontinued. By 1965, only the Thoroughbred remained, with its single daily roundtrip from Chicago to Louisville.
  • September 30, 1967: Final day of regularly scheduled passenger train service on the Monon.
  • March 21, 1968: Merger with Louisville and Nashville Railroad announced to placate the Monon's fear of lost business due to L&N's acquisition of part of a competing route, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad.
  • July 31, 1971: The Monon is merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
  • 1972-1979: Amtrak operates the Floridian Chicago-Miami service over the former Monon Railroad's tracks in Indiana. With the termination of this service in 1979, Bloomington, Indiana, and the rest of southern Indiana lose passenger railway service.
  • 1999: Portions of the line around Indianapolis are converted to a bicycle and pedestrian trail known as the Monon Trail.
  • 2004: CSX stops using the former Monon Railroad's tracks through Bloomington, Indiana. Over the next decade, Bloomington sections of the tracks are converted to the B-Line Trail (within the city proper) and the Rail-Trail (south of the city).
  • After 2009, the tracks between Munster and Hammond, Indiana, are removed and the line converted into another section of the Monon Trail.


Restored Reading Railroad caboose painted as a Monon, in Monon, Indiana.

(Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)


Colleges served

The Monon served seven colleges and universities along its line:

  • Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana
  • DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
  • Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana
  • West Baden Northwood Institute/College in West Baden Springs, Indiana.

The university traffic was important enough to the Monon that the railroad used the schools' colors on its rolling stock. The red and white of Wabash College (and similar to the colors of Indiana University) was used on the railroad's passenger equipment, and the black and gold used by both DePauw University and Purdue University adorned the railroad's diesel freight locomotives and later replaced the red and white on passenger equipment as well.


Monon Route map, 1903.

(Poor's Manual, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



▪ Monon Railroad

    ▪ Chicago and South Atlantic Railroad 1879

    ▪ Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville Railroad 1956

        ▪ Chicago and Wabash Valley Railroad 1914

        ▪ Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad 1916

        ▪ Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad 1898

            ▪ Bedford and Bloomfield Railroad 1886

            ▪ Chicago and Indianapolis Air Line Railway 1883

            ▪ Indianapolis, Delphi and Chicago Railroad 1881

            ▪ New Albany and Salem Railroad 1873

                ▪ Crawfordsville and Wabash Railroad 1852

            ▪ Orleans, Paoli and Jasper Railway 1886


Monon F3A No. 207 with northbound Train 6, the Thoroughbred, in Dyer, Indiana, November 26, 1965. (Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


A CSX freight train with run-through BNSF power waits for yard clearance in Monon, Indiana. (Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Monon route

The railroad got the name Monon from the convergence of its main routes in Monon, Indiana. From Monon, the mainlines reached out to Chicago, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Michigan City, Indiana. In Chicago the Monon's passenger trains served Dearborn Station. Branches connected the Louisville mainline to Victoria and French Lick in Indiana.

The Monon's main line ran down the middle of streets in several cities, notably Lafayette, New Albany, and Bedford. It also installed an unusual "home grown" warning signal at many grade crossings; these used a green signal light (similar to and adapted from a standard highway traffic signal) that stayed lit at all times, except when a train was approaching. A sign below or to the side of the signal read, "STOP When Signal Is Out" or "DANGER when light is out cross at your own risk". This design was fail-safe, in that when the signal bulb was burned out, approaching vehicle drivers would assume a train was coming — until they eventually realized there was no train and just a burned-out signal.

The Monon had seven sections. Beginning in the north, Section One was from the Indiana line to Lafayette, passing through the Monon switch in Monon. As a primary passenger route, it connected to Section Four running between Lafayette and Bloomington. This route reached the Ohio River over Section Five from Bloomington to New Albany. From this southern route, Sections Six and Seven were spurs to the west. Section Six served the coal fields between Midland and Clay City, connecting to the main line at Wallace Junction, just south of Cloverdale. Section Seven provided passenger service to the resort hotels in West Baden and French Lick, through a connection at Orleans.

The other primary line, mainly a freight line, included Section Two from Michigan City on Lake Michigan to Monon and then Section three from Monon to Indianapolis. Although each route had its primary traffic type, freight and passengers were carried over all parts of the line.


Monon F3A No. 208 with northbound Train 6, the Thoroughbred, in South Chicago, Illinois, June 1965. (Roger Puta, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Monon F3A No. 208 with southbound Train 5, the Thoroughbred, in Dyer, Indiana. February 10, 1963. (Roger Puta, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

MONON F3A 208 with Train 6, The Thoroughbred, at South Chicago, IL in June 1965. (Roger Puta, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard depiction of the Monon Railroad train "Lew Wallace". (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard depiction of the Monon Railroad's train "The Hoosier". (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Postcard depiction of the Monon Railroad's "The Mononette". (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard depiction of the Monon train "The Tippecanoe". (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard depiction of the Monon Railroad train "The Thoroughbred" which traveled from Chicago to Louisville. (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Postcard depiction of the lounge car on the Monon Railroad's "The Hoosier", which traveled between Chicago and Indianapolis. (Monon Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Section No. 1

Chicago to Lafayette: The Chicago to Lafayette route is used by Amtrak for the Cardinal and was used by the Hoosier State before that train was discontinued.

  • Chicago – Dearborn Station
  • Englewood
  • Hammond, here, the Monon entered Indiana and track ownership belonged to the Monon line. From Chicago to Hammond, the Monon utilized trackage rights via the Chicago and Western Indiana.
  • Munster
  • Dyer
  • St. John
  • Cedar Lake
  • Lowell
  • Shelby
  • Thayer
  • Roselawn
  • Fair Oaks
  • Rensselaer, home of St. Joseph College
  • Pleasant Ridge
  • McCoysburg
  • Lee
  • Monon, the central switching yard for all trains, and company namesake
  • Reynolds
  • Chalmers
  • Brookston
  • Battle Ground
  • Lafayette, rail station of Purdue University, located across the Wabash River in West Lafayette


Monon Crossing in Battle Ground, Indiana. (Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Abandoned Monon Trestle over Wildcat Creek. (Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Section No. 2

Monon to Indianapolis. Section No. 2 was a freight route between Monon and Indianapolis. The section of the line between Monon and Monticello is still in service. The rest has been completely abandoned and the rails removed. Much of the right-of-way has been returned to neighboring landowners. Where farm fields surround it, evidence of the route has nearly been obliterated as the land has been returned to farming. From 10th Street in Indianapolis, through Carmel and up to State Road 47 in Sheridan, the Monon Trail is now a bike and walking route following the right-of-way.

  • Guernsey
  • Monticello
  • Yeoman
  • Delphi, where the Monon High Bridge still stands over Deer Creek Gorge.
  • Radnor
  • Ockley, south of Ockley station, the viaduct over Wildcat Creek still existed until 2013. It was just north of Owasco and was visible from US 421/SR 39. In 2004, it was damaged by heavy run-offs in Wildcat Creek, which moved the legs of the steel piers out of alignment. It was still standing until the summer of 2013 when it was dismantled by CSX.
  • Rossville
  • Frankfort
  • Kirklin
  • Sheridan
  • Westfield
  • Carmel
  • Nora
  • Broad Ripple
  • Boulevard Station
  • Indianapolis, home of Butler University. The Monon used the Indianapolis Union Station in downtown Indianapolis.


Section No. 3

Michigan City to Monon: This line runs parallel to U.S. 421 as far as Brookston. The Indiana Rail to Trails group is developing a bike route from Michigan City to La Crosse, using the Monon right-of-way, where it still exists. A section south of Michigan City by I-94 has been consumed by a landfill and the bridge over the I-94 and I-80/I-90 have been removed.

  • Michigan City
  • Otis
  • Westville
  • Alida
  • Haskell
  • Wanatah
  • South Wanatah
  • La Crosse
  • Wilders
  • San Pierre
  • Medaryville. North of Medaryville the tracks have been abandoned and removed. The line is still in service from Medaryville to Monon.
  • Francesville
  • Monon


White River crossing of the Monon near Gosport and Stinesville.

(Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Section No. 4

Lafayette to Bloomington: From Lafayette southward, the Monon follows along U.S. 231 to Crawfordsville. At Crawfordsville, the right-of-way moves eastward of the highway several miles, but continues south to Cloverdale, returning closer to U.S. 231 at Greencastle. Amtrak uses this route south to Crawfordsville and then the old New York Central/Conrail tracks into Indianapolis.

  • Lafayette, home to Purdue University
  • South Raub
  • Romney
  • Linden, now hosts a museum of the Monon Line in the old station.
  • Crawfordsville home of Wabash College
  • Ladoga
  • Roachdale
  • Bainbridge
  • Greencastle, home of DePauw University
  • Limedale
  • Putnamville
  • Cloverdale The tracks from Lafayette end here.
  • Wallace Jct provided access to the coal fields of Midland, Howesville and Clay City along Section Six of the Monon line.
  • Quincy
  • Gosport – South of Gosport, the Monon crosses the White River.
  • Stinesville is the northern edge of quarry country. From here, south through Bedford and Mitchell, quarries of fine Indiana Limestone exist.
  • Adams
  • Ellettsville, tracks end here from Bloomington
  • Bloomington, home of Indiana University


Washington County Courthouse, Salem, Indiana. (Bedford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site in New Albany, Indiana. (Bedford at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Section No. 5

Bloomington to New Albany

  • Bloomington, home of Indiana University. Tracks from south of the junction with INRD have been removed and converted into a trail within the Bloomington city limits.
  • Clear Creek
  • Harrodsburg
  • Guthrie
  • Murdock
  • Bedford Tracks resume here.
  • Mitchell
  • Orleans is where the junction to Section Seven used to be. It headed southwest towards West Baden and French Lick
  • Leipsic
  • Campbellsburg
  • Hitchcock
  • Salem
  • Farabee
  • Pekin
  • Borden
  • New Albany


Section No. 6

Wallace Jct. to Midland (coal fields): With the exception of a short stretch from Midland Junction to Vicksburg, this section has been completely abandoned and the tracks have been removed.

  • Wallace Jct
  • Cataract
  • Jordan
  • Patricksburg
  • Clay City
  • Howesville
  • Midland, east entrance to the Indiana coal fields. The active mines are between Linton, Jasonville, and Sullivan.
  • Vicksburg
  • Victoria, has disappeared as a community.


Monon Station in French Lick, Indiana.

(Chris Light, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Section No. 7

This section has been completely abandoned. Tracks remain only in French Lick and are used as an excursion route. French Lick to Cuzco. A portion of the original track in French Lick and West Baden (between the West Baden Hotel and the Indiana Railway Museum) has been altered and expanded for a trolley service serving various locations of the French Lick Resort and the museum.

  • Orleans
  • Paoli
  • West Baden
  • French Lick


Mid-20th century passenger trains

  • Thoroughbred, train 5 southbound / train 6 northbound, daily from Chicago, Illinois (Dearborn Station) to Louisville, Kentucky (Union Station), via Monon, Indiana and Lafayette, Indiana.
  • Bluegrass, nos. 3/4, night train, with sleeping car service for the above Thoroughbred route.
  • Tippecanoe, nos. 11/12, daily from Chicago to Indianapolis' Union Station, via Monon and Frankfort, Indiana.
  • Hoosier, nos. 15/16, same route as the Tippecanoe.
  • Nos. 49/48, 57/56, daily Michigan City, Indiana to Monon, Indiana service.


A restored Monon boxcar CIL 1620 at the Linden Railroad Museum in Linden, Indiana. The former Monon mainline is in the background. (Photo by Sean Lamb (User:Slambo), CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Monon line crossing Hoagland Ditch in White County. (Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

The line today

The remains of the line are operated by CSX Transportation. Large segments have been abandoned in recent years: most of the line from Monon southeast to Indianapolis, the line north from Monon to Michigan City, and the line segment between Cloverdale and Bedford (this segment was abandoned due largely to a washout). A portion of the French Lick branch is now home to a railroad museum, with part of the line wired for trolley service.

Between Bedford and Mitchell, CSX owned the line but did not operate any of its own trains. Until 2009, the only service came from trains of the Indiana Rail Road, which in 2006 purchased the former Latta Subdivision of the Canadian Pacific Railway that connected with the former Monon at Bedford. INRD operated over the old Monon from Bedford to Louisville through trackage rights negotiated by the Latta Sub's original owner, The Milwaukee Road, when the L&N took over the Monon. Those trackage rights went from the Milwaukee Road to its buyer, The Soo Line Railroad; a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 2009, INRD ended service and removed trackage from the former Monon junction in Bedford to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division west of Bedford. Consequently, CSX placed the ex-Monon line from Bedford south to Mitchell out of service.

CSX operated trains between Louisville and St. Louis, Missouri, over the Louisville-Mitchell segment; these trains had to make an unusual reverse movement to go from the Monon to the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line to St. Louis, owing to an unfavorable track arrangement at the crossing of the lines in Mitchell. As of 2009, CSX has stopped making regular movements over the line, with trains being shifted to the nearby Louisville and Indiana Railroad via a trackage rights agreement.

Amtrak's Cardinal train traverses the former Monon thrice weekly from Crawfordsville to the Indiana state line near Chicago. Station stops along the former Monon include Lafayette, Rensselaer, and Dyer.

The line through Lafayette was relocated in 2000 to an alignment along the Wabash River, parallel to the similarly relocated Norfolk Southern Railway line. Previously, the Monon Line ran down the middle of Fifth Street, with a hotel serving as its passenger station well into the Amtrak era.

The Monon Line has been abandoned in Hammond and Munster north of the junction with the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, but the corridor is planned to be rebuilt as the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District West Lake Corridor. Initially running as far south as Munster/Dyer Main Street, long term plans would see services extend as far as Lowell and Valparaiso, Indiana.


The Monon Museum at the Linden, Indiana Station.

(Chris Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Indiana Railway Museum in French Lick operates trains south from French Lick to Cuzco, Indiana, out of the former Monon (Union) depot in French Lick, Indiana.

The Monon Connection, which opened in 2005. is on U.S. 421 north of Monon.

Located in a disused Monon railroad station, the Linden Railroad Museum is owned and operated by the Linden-Madison Township Historical Society. In 1852, the Michigan City, Salem and New Albany Railroad cut through Montgomery County. The old stage road between Crawfordsville and Linden was given to the railroad as an inducement to get it to build through Linden. 1852 also saw the building of the first Linden depot, on a site behind the present day post office. The building was moved to the current location in 1881 when the Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad was built through Linden, crossing the Monon at this location.

The John Hay Center in Salem has the Depot Railroad Station Museum, honoring the Monon. It has also been the home of the Monon Railroad Historical/Technical Society since summer 2012.

The Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Kentucky, displays Monon's Diesel Engine No. 32, an Electro-Motive Division (EMD) BL2 model, in its original black and gold paint scheme.

The French Lick West Baden Museum in French Lick acquired a major Monon Railroad Artifact collection in 2021 that is on display from November 2022 through mid-2023.



Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
Reporting mark: CIL, MON
Locale: Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky
Dates of operation: 1847–1971
Successor: Louisville and Nashville
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)