By PAULENE POPARAD
Directors of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District that owns
and operates the South Shore passenger service voted 7-4 Friday to donate
the railroad’s historic maintenance line car to a local public/private
coalition rather than to the Illinois museum recommended by NICTD’s own
NICTD member Sam Melnick of LaPorte County said his three-member committee
assigned numerical scores to rate the two proposals objectively. The
Illinois Railroad Museum in Union, IL scored 255 of 300 possible points and
the Indiana-based Line Car Preservation Group scored 214 points.
Based on those results, Melnick said he, NICTD purchasing manager Randy
Welch and electrical engineer Victor Babin decided the museum’s proposal was
in the best interest of the line car, even though disposing of it was an
emotional issue. NICTD board members thanked the committee for its efforts
but some said the 41-point ranking spread was not that far apart.
The winning coalition to receive the line car, built in 1926, consists of
the following members:
• The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, a working railroad museum in North
Judson, IN which will take physical possession of and title to Line Car
1100, and where it will be restored.
• The National New York Central Railroad Museum in and owned by the city of
Elkhart, IN where Line Car 1100 and its companion reel car eventually will
be exhibited until a permanent home is provided. According to the
Preservation Group, a future museum expansion will include a 3/4-mile
section of electrified trackage to permit operation of the South Shore cars
• The non-profit South Shore Line Heritage Foundation, which will provide
advice and expertise on the restoration, preservation and display of Line
Car 1100, and work to provide a permanent location for it. The foundation is
currently working with numerous groups to coordinate and administer a wide
range of South Shore passenger line-related heritage initiatives and
• The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, which will administer and
disburse proceeds of a fund that a donor has committed to be used by Hoosier
Valley for Line Car 1100, and will assist in raising additional funds for
the project. So far gifts and pledges totaling $160,000 have been received;
a campaign to raise the balance of the estimated $321,500 budget will be led
by the Director of Major Gifts for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation of
• The National Park Service, whose specialists will assist with historic
documentation, the National Register nomination process, and overall
preservation, restoration and public display including the staff of
Steamtown National Historic site, which operates an active railroad
• The Calumet Regional Archives of Indiana University Northwest, which will
provide advice and expertise regarding the history of the South Shore and
Line Car 1100’s place in it.
The Preservation Group’s three-part proposal clearly states its members
strongly believe the line car should be preserved, restored and displayed in
northwest Indiana. Some NICTD board members apparently wanted a firmer
commitment before awarding the line car to the group.
“Is there any chance this car will leave northwest Indiana?” asked NICTD
Chairman David Niezgodski, a St. Joseph County Commissioner. He suggested if
it does leave, ownership reverts back to NICTD.
Preservation Group spokesperson Speros Batistatos said, “I cannot speak for
all six (partners) but we wouldn’t ask for this if the goal were not to keep
the line car here.”
NICTD member and Porter County Commissioner John Evans said it would be only
fair to ask the Illinois Railroad Museum if it also would be willing to keep
the line car in Indiana, a stipulation not contained in NICTD’s original
solicitation. Amending those terms now would be like allowing a bid to be
changed, he added.
Lake County Commissioner Frances DuPey of NICTD said her heart is with
keeping the line car here, and that receiving it could be the springboard
for a local railroad museum. She suggested approving the Preservation
Group’s proposal subject to additional requirements to be approved at
NICTD’s November meeting.
Said Evans, “You’re putting the caboose before the engine.”
LaPorte County Council member Mark Yagelski suggested the Preservation Group
be given the line car and if significant progress isn’t made within 24
months, the car would be awarded to the Illinois Railroad Museum. Melnick,
an attorney, said it would be difficult to draft and enforce such a
contingency for what he described as “a one-of-a-kind piece of equipment.”
Added Evans, “This is too big a decision to say, ‘Go ahead and we’ll get the
requirements later.’ We need something to measure against at the end of the
Batistatos said as for restoring the line car, “We’re willing to do that in
12 months, let alone 24.” Specifically, the project schedule in the
Preservation Group’s proposal sets a target date of May, 2005 for opening of
the exhibit featuring the restored line car.
Porter County Commissioner William Carmichael of NICTD asked if the line car
would be safely secured while in the Preservation Group’s care; Batistatos
said it would. The Governor’s Appointee to NICTD, transportation professor
Dr. George Smerk of Indiana University, said he has visited all the major
railroad museums and the Illinois Railroad Museum is among the very best.
At one point during the discussion it was suggested the line car title not
transfer to the Preservation Group until NICTD is satisfied it has complied
with its proposal. Said Batistatos, “You want us to put $300,000 into a car
we don’t own?”
Those voting yes on Lake County Council member Will Smith’s amended motion
to award the Preservation Group the line car if it is kept in Indiana were
members Paul Pobereyko representing commuters, Yagelski, Smith, Niezgodski,
DuPey, Carmichael and labor representative Dennis Burke. Voting no were
Melnick, Evans, Smerk and St. Joseph County Councilman Mark Catanzarite.
After the vote, Batistatos said the Preservation Group can live with the
conditions set by NICTD. “It’s important to realize these aren’t new
conditions. These are conditions we clearly set forth in writing in our
proposal. Had all the board read it I’m confident the discussion today
wouldn’t have taken place.”
Overall, “We’re pleased with the show of support from the elected officials
from northwest Indiana who are sensitive to the stories this line car can
tell,” said Batistatos.
In other business Friday, the NICTD board unanimously approved a new
contract with the union representing 80 carmen, one of six unions
representing South Shore passenger-service employees. The pact is subject to
ratification by the carmen’s union.
NICTD general manager Gerald Hanas said the terms are in line with national
Major terms include some work rule changes and a 2.5 percent wage increase
effective Oct. 1 and 3 percent annual increases effective Jan. 1, 2004
through Jan. 1, 2007.
At the request of the Gary/Chicago Airport, the name of NICTD’s Clark Road
stop, very near the airport, was unanimously changed to Gary/Chicago
The change will be reflected on the next printing of NICTD schedules;
signage changes will be minimal.
The low $114,780 bid of McCann Industries of Schererville was accepted for a
Case 3.25-yard loader. Three other bids were submitted. The estimated cost
The public was reminded that additional cars will be added on Train 600
arriving in Chicago at 7 a.m. Oct. 12 for the Chicago Marathon.
Historic line car to be saved:
A coalition of six area
preservation groups Friday were awarded possession of the South Shore
passenger service’s line car, built in 1926 as a passenger coach and
modified in 1947 for catenary maintenance and repairs. The South Shore used
the line car until now, when a new $1.7 million modern replacement has
arrived. Among the known historic photographs of the line car, like the one
above, is a photo of the electric-powered car being pulled by a mule.
(Photo provided by Line Car Preservation Group)
Line Car is living history
What’s so special about the South Shore’s now-retired Line Car 1100?
According to railroad officials and railroading buffs, plenty.
The Line Car Preservation Group, which Friday was awarded possession of the
line car within 30 days, considers it “a significant artifact of Indiana
history.” Operating through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and
every decade since, the group believes Car 1100 to be a valuable teaching
tool to describe the region’s industrialization and resulting cultural
Three railroads operating between Louisville and Chicago/South Bend used the
car for a total of 77 years, almost exclusively in Indiana. “The car served
in four distinct types of electric railway service. We are aware of no other
single interurban railway vehicle for which that is true,” according to the
Preservation Group’s proposal to NICTD.
Built in St. Louis in 1926, the rail car (originally No. 376) carried
first-class passengers as an electric parlor on one of the Indiana Service
Corporation’s Wabash Valley Flyers. Samuel Insull’s Indiana Railroad used it
as a passenger coach/baggage car. In 1935 it became a combination
passenger/railway post office car where mail was sorted and delivered along
the train routes.
According to the South Shore, the Indiana Railroad operated the train car on
interurban lines throughout Indiana until 1941 when it was purchased by the
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad, which in 1947 renumbered and
rebuilt it as Line Car 1100 used for maintenance and repairs.
The South Shore passenger service, the nation’s last operating interurban
electric railroad, was acquired by the publicly owned Northern Indiana
Commuter Transportation District in 1990. NICTD has continued to use Car
1100 as its primary vehicle for maintaining and repairing the fragile
overhead electric catenary system that powers the railroad’s cars. Initial
work has begun to upgrade the catenary system.
In 2002 NICTD ordered a $1.7 million new line car and trailer car with
modern equipment and conveniences to facilitate the catenary upgrade and
make emergency repairs. The vehicle recently was delivered and was at the
Dune Park train station in Westchester Township on Friday for inspection.
The Preservation Group’s proposal notes that it believes interpreting Car
1100’s significance is equal in importance to restoring and exhibiting it.
As an example, when first built as Car 376 it helped win the railroading
public’s confidence that they wouldn’t be electrocuted even though the
steel-body train cars were powered by electricity.