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Friendly Hoosier Railroad

My father was assigned to get his MBA degree at Indiana University as part of the Air Fore AFIT program, starting in Fall 1969. Dad obviously chose IU over the other academic possibilities (one of which was Harvard, IIRC) because it was the one chance for an assignment near his home, Greene County, and my mother's Terre Haute, Indiana, during his entire 23-year military career.

We rented a house on the north side of campus on the road to Griffey Reservoir the first year in Bloomington, but the house was sold and we were forced to relocate to another rental just off Rockport Road for the second year of this assignment.

I was just starting to get into trains, having previously been into that quintessential 60s hobby, model rocketry while at Dad's previous assignment at Randolph AFB, Texas, and our newly-rented home was much better for train watching and exposure to the Monon. I didn't even know this railroad existed until we moved to the south side of town, having mistakenly assumed in the ignorance of my youth that the Illinois Central was the only game in such a small town.

  We had a stone quarry just across the road , which received a near-daily switch by a Monon RS-2/caboose combination.
  More about this in a future Monon Memory, as I digress.

  Getting into town, by the family car or school bus, seemed to require crossing in front of the Bloomington yard throat.
  And it had a very stylish, modern passenger station! After thinking about it a bit, I asked Mom if I could take a train
  ride out and back to the nearest station up the line. She said yes, in one of those unexpected moments you encounter
  when you're just old enough to start asking for permission to do things, without necessarily expecting your parents to
  actually say yes. So, on the next trip to town for groceries or whatever, Mom stopped at the Bloomington Monon station,
  so I could go in and inquire about a ticket.

I remember opening the door, going in and talking with a man, who quickly, but politely quashed my dream. No, passenger trains had been discontinued in 1967, but he thanked me for my interest in the Monon.

Alas, it was a big disappointment. I'd have to wait until Dad's next assignment in Germany to take my first solo trip on a scheduled passenger train. But the Monon employee who'd treated a 14-year old with respect did encourage me to keep paying attention , at a respectful distance, to this interesting, yet previously unknown to me, friendly Hoosier railroad.



By Mike Lehman Urbana, Il

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