This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Monon Connection

Several years ago I made a list of things to see and do in and around Rensselaer. The list had ten items, and each of the ten had an alternative or two, so there were over twenty items in all. I revised the list last summer, and currently my number eight item is:
8. Visit a Museum

There is a privately-run railroad museum, the Monon Connection, a mile and a half north of Monon. It costs $6 to enter, which may be a bit much if you are not a railroad fan. Most rail museums feature the big stuff, the locomotives and cars of the past. This collection features the small stuff--the bells and whistles, the lanterns, the china from passenger trains, signs from depots, and lots more of the day-to-day items that were associated with the glory days of rail. If you do not want to pay the charge, you can still view the many items they have outside, and you can eat in their excellent restaurant.
It has been a year since I have been there, but every time I have been there I have taken a few pictures.
The picture above was taken in 2005. The picture below was taken in May of 2007. From the road, this is the most visible exhibit at the museum.
Although the museum inside the building charges, you can look at the exterior exhibits free. You can also enjoy a fine meal in the unique atmosphere of the restaurant, which is called the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Below is a picture of a little depot with a whole lot of railway stuff, all of it interesting.
This caboose is now open, or at least it was when we visited after Thanksgiving in 2007


Below is a view from the top of the caboose looking down.
And this is a view out the window of the caboose looking at more exhibits that are in the parking lot.
If you want some idea of what is inside the museum, go here.

Because the little town of Monon was located at the crossroads of the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railroad, that railroad was usually called the Monon. The Monon disappeared in 1971 when it was merged into the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. Some of the original line is no longer used, but those sections that are still used are now part of CSX Transportation.

The Monon Connection is not actually on a railroad line, but there is track on the other side of the highway. The branch line from Monon to Michigan City that lies across the highway from the Monon Connection now ends in Medaryville. I walked to the end of tracks a few years ago when at an auction held at old Shultz House, which was once a hotel for those who came to Medaryville on the railroad. Also, the Monon Connection is not a museum of the Monon Railroad. Its exhibits come from railroads from everywhere in the United States.

There is more information about the Monon railroad here and here and here. This page has information about the Monon and Rensselaer.

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