Indianapolis Union Railway

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Indianapolis Union Railway
Reporting mark IU
Locale Indiana
Dates of operation 1850–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indianapolis Union Railway Company (reporting mark IU), is a terminal railroad operating in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was organized on May 31, 1850, as the Union Track Railway Company by the presidents of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad Company (M&I), the Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad Company (TH&R), and the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad Company (I&B) for the purposes of establishing and operating joint terminal facilities in Indiana's capital city. The name of the company was changed to its present one on August 12, 1853. The next month, on September 20, Indianapolis Union Station opened its doors, becoming the very first union railroad station in the world. Since 1999, the company has been owned and operated by CSX.


Early history (1850-1900)[edit]

The Union Track Railway Company was organized on May 31, 1850. Later that year, 1.60 miles (2.57 km) of main line track were turned over to the company; 0.64 miles (1.03 km) from the Peru and Indianapolis Railroad Company (P&I) and 0.96 miles (1.54 km) that had been jointly constructed by the three founding lines (the M&I, the TH&R, and the I&B). On November 25, 1852, the company's directors adopted a resolution by which other railroads might be admitted into the group. The Indiana Central Railway Company (IndC) and the Lawrenceburg and Upper Mississippi Railroad Company (L&UM) were so included shortly thereafter.

On August 12, 1853, the company renamed itself the Indianapolis Union Railway Company, a name it has kept ever since in spite of the ever-changing names of its various owning lines.

On September 20, 1883, a new joint ownership, lease, and operations agreement was reached and entered into by the participating railroads. This date also marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of Indianapolis' original Union Station.

On March 14, 1884, the property of Union Station and 1.11 miles (1.79 km) of main line track were conveyed to the Indianapolis Union Railway by deed. This included 0.87 miles (1.40 km) that had been jointly constructed by the three founding lines, and an additional 0.24 miles (0.39 km) from the P&I. That same day, all properties that had been used but not deeded under a November 19, 1872 agreement were ceded by joint deed to the IU by the following companies: the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad Company (successor to the M&I), the Terre Haute and Indianapolis Rail Road Company (successor to the TH&R), the Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company (C&StL), and the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway Company (CIStL&C).

On March 2, 1885, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation allowing for the incorporation of union railroad companies. The Indianapolis Union Railway was so accepted as such under that act a few days later, on March 25.

By late 1886, the IU had outgrown its facilities. In November of that year, work began on additional facilities that would be completed by 1888. These included a rearranged and enlarged track system, renewed and additional retaining walls, new bridges, a new head house, office building and train shed, and a below-grade crossing for street railway and pedestrian use at Illinois Street. The head house of Indianapolis Union Station which resulted form this project is the same one still standing today in the 21st Century.

Into the 20th century (1900-1950)[edit]

From July 1, 1915 through the end of 1922, another large construction project was undertaken to elevate the tracks over 18 feet (5.5 m) via earthen embankments, retaining walls, and bridges. The 1888 tunnel at Illinois Street was replaced with a level undercrossing, as were 11 former at-grade street crossings. The 1888 head house and office buildings were retained and remodeled. The train shed was replaced with a new one along the now-elevated tracks, while baggage, mail, and express buildings were all replaced. Station facilities at street level, including a new baggage tunnel under one street, were built under the new train shed.

As of December 31, 1927, the following companies were part of the 1883 joint agreement (as amended) that made up the Indianapolis Union Railway:

By 1935, the corporate structure of the Indianapolis Union Railroad Company had changed. It was still an Indiana corporation, but ownership of its stock was divided between just two railroads, with the PCC&StL (PRR) holding 60% of the stock and the CCC&StL (NYC) holding the remaining 40%. The other railroads operating in Indianapolis at the time no longer had any equity stake, but continued to pay rent to the IU for their joint use of the company's facilities. At this time, the IU owned Indianapolis' Union Station (and its appurtenances) along with 1.769 miles (2.847 km) of main line trackage.[1]

Late 20th century(1950-2000) to present day[edit]

When the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central to form Penn Central Railroad (PC) in 1968, 100% control of the Indianapolis Union Railway passed to the new entity. Upon Penn Central's bankruptcy in 1970, and subsequent reorganization into Conrail (CR) by 1976, control of the IU passed once again. Finally, when Conrail was broken up and sold in 1998, the Indianapolis Union Railway became a part of CSX Transportation, which began operating it the next year. This is somewhat ironic, in that CSX is the successor to the B&O and the Monon, two of the lines that gave up partial interest in the IU during the Great Depression of the 1930s.


  1. ^ 1935 Interstate Commerce Commission Valuation Reports (Volume 46, pages 732, 734-736, and 738)