The Rise and Fall of River and Rail transportation in Madison, Indiana.

The Final Chapter

Train on the grade in 1992In the 1970’s the state legislators passed a law that states a city municipal authority could operate a short line railroad not to exceed fifty miles in length. This paved the way for the City of Madison to enter into negotiations with the railroad with the intent to purchase the railway between North Vernon and Madison.

In 1981 Madison offered the railroad $600,000 but the railroad declined, contending it was worth much more. The city filed a condemnation suit under the Right of Eminent Domain. The court ruled in favor of the city and the track was condemned between North Vernon and Madison. Under this ruling Madison would be allowed to buy the line for its appraised value. The railroad appealed the decision but in 1984 a purchase price of $307,000 was ordered by the court. Since the purchase of the railroad, repairs and improvements have been made as funds were available.

It has been a struggle to keep the road in operation. However, since Madison has no river port facilities and the closest interstate is miles distant, the city contends the railroad is necessary and the new century has seen a positive change in the road’s fortunes.

Jefferson and Jennings county businesses and industries now take advantage of the railroad finding it to be an economical and convenient mode of freight transportation. The Madison Railroad hauls a variety of commodities, including polyethylene, coal by-products and steel. It also specializes in team track operations and car storage.

There are still challenges to be met and the future is not clear but the bottom line is, the old road, after over one hundred and fifty years, is still here and still running.

Read more about today’s Madison Railroad

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