CKIN First Year Update
August 1, 2005 began the second year of operations for the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad. The C&I is the entity that conducts 33-miles of railroad operations over the former C&O/Pere Marquette/CSX lines located in LaPorte, Porter and Starke Counties. The Incorporated Town of North Judson has ownership of the railroad after a massive effort in by multi-levels of government, business and non-profits came together to preserve the rail line from abandonment in 2004. The effort was put forth to preserve current economic benefits and foster future benefits both economically and through historic railroad operations and tourism opportunities. Oversight of the railroad is performed through the North Judson Railroad Advisory Committee.
The C&I handled 725 revenue freight cars for the first year of operations. Most of this freight was outbound corn and soybeans and the rest was inbound plant food or fertilizers. It is highly expected that 1,000 freight cars will move over the C&I in the coming year of operations. C&I received a $150,000 matching grant from the Indiana Industrial Rail Service Fund in its first year, for railroad ties and repairs to several bridges. That work is currently now underway. C&I was recently awarded a grant from the Indiana Dept of Transportation and its Passive Grade Crossing Improvement Program to replace most of the rural crossbucks along the railroad's rural crossings with new posts and crossbuck materials.
Presently two facilities of the LaPorte County Farm Bureau Co-op utilize the railroad asset, one facility at Malden in Porter County and the other facility located at Union Mills, in LaPorte County. Bruder Fertilizer is another railroad user, off loading plant food at LaCrosse. Two other businesses near Malden are now off loading product from railcars for their business operations. Sites at North Judson, Malden and Union Mills can be utilized by any business wishing to ship in or ship out product. The Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad interchanges with the CSX railroad system at Wellsboro/Union Mills.
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum at North Judson, and C&I Railroad have hosted 3 North American Railcar Operators Association excursions on the railroad during the first year, and additional outings are being planned for 2005-06. Also, museum volunteers have assisted C&I Railroad with some degree of maintenance and light repairs to the North Judson/LaCrosse branch of the railroad, which HVRM intends to begin utilizing in the coming year for tourist train operations.
Mark Knebel, Sec.
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum Inc.