Erie Western Railway
The Erie Western was incorporated in August 1977 and began operations under an Interstate Commerce Commission car service order on September 25, 1977 to operate freight service for 158 miles on the former Erie Lackawanna Railway main line from the Indiana/Ohio state line near Wren, Ohio west to Hammond, Indiana. The railroad also operated a 27-mile branch line extending from Decatur, Indiana to Portland, Indiana. The Erie Western also possessed ICC-granted rights to operate from Hammond to Chicago on trackage rights over the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad.
The Erie Western was created because the former main line of the Erie Lackawanna Railway, which went bankrupt in 1972, was not included in the federal government's creation of Conrail, prompting the Erie Western to be formed by shippers and others who wanted to retain and preserve rail service. The railroad was operated by Craig Burroughs' Joliet, Illinois-based Trans-Action Associates.
Conrail began operations on the Erie Lackawanna and other Northeastern rail lines on April 1, 1976. The Erie Lackawanna mainline west of Marion, Ohio, was not conveyed to Conrail because of the Erie Lackawanna's 11th hour entry into the Final System Plan. The ownership of this line remained with the Erie Lackawanna Estate, which was a holding company to which all of the railroad's outstanding debt was transferred. However, since all locomotives and rolling stock were conveyed to Conrail, Conrail was responsible for continuing freight service to customers along the Erie Lackawanna mainline. The condition of this service was only until a suitable short line could assume operations. Conrail's local freight service lasted from April 1976 until early 1977 when Erie Western was formed and began operations.
Commodities hauled include grain, lumber, fertilizer, steel, food products, manufactured goods and plastic.
The railroad failed and discontinued operations on June 24, 1979. Operations were replaced by a short-lived operator, the Chicago & Indiana Railroad. The Chicago & Indiana discontinued operations on December 31, 1979.
After the failure of both the Erie Western and Chicago and Indiana, the Erie Lackawanna Estate realized that the real estate value of this right of way could be used to offset the debts incurred during and after Erie Lackawanna's bankruptcy. Realizing that profitable local freight service was no longer achievable, mostly due to the increase in trucking shipments, the Erie Lackawanna Estate sold the mainline, and all wayside signalling and structures, to L.B. Foster Company. L.B. Foster's sole intent was to remove the trackage and sell the ties, rails, and ballast to other railroads, and sell the physical right of way to local farmers and developers. The Erie Lackawanna right of way was mostly removed by 1983.
North Judson-Monterey segment
After December 31, 1979, the Tippecanoe Railroad Co. took over operations of a 16-mile stretch of the railroad from North Judson, Indiana to Monterey, Indiana that was known as the JK Line. In the spring of 1990, the Tippecanoe Railroad was sold to another operator, Daniel R. Frick, and renamed JK Lines. In 2003, the operator of JK Lines, the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway, applied for and later received permission from the federal government to abandon the 16-mile line.
The line Has been removed and has been named the Monterey Bike Trail.
- Lewis, Edward A.. American Short Line Railway Guide. The Baggage Car. p. 41.
- Trains magazine, December 1977, p. 8.
- Lewis, Edward A.. American Short Line Railway Guide. Kalmbach Boo ks. p. 230.
- Schwieterman, Joseph P. (2001). When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, Eastern United States. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press. p. 76. ISBN 0943549973. OCLC 702179808.
- Lewis, Edward A.. American Short Line Railway Guide. Kalmbach Books. p. 208.
- Lewis, Edward A.. American Short Line Railway Guide. Kalmbach Books. p. 131.