You think about the state of Indiana. You think about the biggest IndyCar race in the world: the Indianapolis 500. You think about two of the most popular universities in the United States: Notre Dame University and the University of Indiana, home of the famous Hoosiers’. Along the shores of Lake Michigan is where you will find the Indiana Dunes National Seashore. Otherwise, most people will tell you that there is not much to the state of Indiana. Whatever your opinion is of Indiana is determined by you, but one thing you cannot overlook is a big railroad site that just happens to be in this state.
In the northern part of the state is the city of South Bend, the home of the University of Notre Dame and the famous Fighting Irish. Fifteen miles east is the town of Elkhart. If you visit the town, you will think that there is not much to see here. Be advised. This is a major railroad hub and a major railroading crossroad. It is here where you will find the largest railroad yard east of the Mississippi River. The town’s history was built around the New York Central Railroad. For this reason, there was no best place than Elkhart, Indiana to erect the National New York Central Railroad Museum.
You arrive at the National New York Central Railroad Museum, and you see the 19211 caboose to the side. You look around and see the outside set up like an old passenger station with passenger cars stretching out from the sides. The old depot is the admission office where you enter the museum. You walk through and see one small display. You walk past a frontage of an old steam. Then you enter into the main room housed in an old New York Central freight house. At one end, you have a very large model train display of NYC trains rolling over bridges and passing through towns and tunnels. In the center, you see displays of the tools used by the track workers and firemen. Then you have models of the steam locomotives encased in glass. Then you see the display of the ticket office and a train platform.
Now that you have seen the inside, you now have to see the most important part: the rolling stock on the outside. You step inside 4085 diesel. Yes, you step inside, and you can pretend that you are the engineer, but you never leave the museum. You cannot huge 3001 steam locomotive right in front of you. Next to it is the 4882 electric locomotive. Then you can see the old rail cars and cabooses. Oh, since it is next to a major railroad line, you may have the great privilege of watching a few trains roll by. As you look around, you will say to yourself, “This has to be one of Indiana’s greatest treasures.” Once you are finished touring the museum, you may walk to the nearby Elkhart Depot and watch a few train go by.
The National New York Central Railroad Museum is located at 721 South Main Street in Elkhart, Indiana at the south end of the town center at the south side of the tracks. It is a ten minute drive from the Indiana Tollway (I-80 and I-90). Admission is only $6.00 for adults. The hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 12:00noon to 4:00pm on Sunday, and it is open year round closed only on Monday and major holidays. You can find directions at https://www.elkhartindiana.org. When you get to the website, click on ‘Departments’ and scroll down to the NYCRR Museum.
You now have a reason to visit the state of Indiana, and you must visit the town of Elkhart. You will most likely not see any elk, but you will see a town with a great heart for the railroad.