Lafayette Shops

MP 117.9 1st Subdivision -SK

The "Home of the Monon"sign north of the Car Shops on the hill overlooking the 52 Bypass.


The car shops building in the background, circa 1925. From the George Carpenter Web Shots collection.




As early as 1882 there was talk of building a new shops complex because the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago was outgrowing their modest New Albany shops. Lafayette became a popular site because of land that was might be granted for the privilege of becoming the new home to the railroad's shops. There was competition between Lafayette and Monon and many railroad trade publications of the day had all but confirmed that either Lafayette or Monon would get the complex. In 1892 the voters of Tippecanoe County's Fairfield Township voted to donate $100,000.00 and 45 acres of land to the railroad if they moved the shops complex to their township. Lafayette had won. Construction of the new complex began in 1894 and in October of 1895 the railroad began use of its new complex.

Left: The Shops, August 10, 1958. Freight units 63A and 64B wait in front of the shops for their assignment. The Shops were capable of handling almost any task needed. Right: Business Car # 2, The Lynne was built by Pullman. The Shops rebuilt the car and it became a favorite then President Warren Brown, who named the car after his granddaughter, Lynne Chambers.

The shops stood on a hill, perched above the mainline. It's buildings, red brick capped with stone trimmings stood tall and proud north of Lafayette. There were two main structures. One building held a 210 foot long machine shop and 90 foot boiler shop, with adjoining blacksmith shop, engine and dyno room, and boiler room. The second building was a car shop, 90 x 300 feet in size. The shops, over the years, changed with the times and needs of the railroad. Quality work was their hallmark and they met every challenge or need with the same level of workmanship. Time and time again the shops proved that they could perform unconventional tasks and succeed. Some of the more cherished feats accomplished at the shops: the rebuilding ex-Army streamlined passenger cars of 1947-1948. The unique "bay window cupola" cabooses built new in 1956-1957. Repowering the Fairbanks Morse diesels of 1960-1961 and the rebuilding of the Alco RS-2s in 1965-1966. Of course there was also many less notable examples of the skill of the shops. The hundreds of freight cars rebuilt, from hopper cars rebuilt to flatcars turned into piggyback service cars. In short the shops did the job of keeping the Monon running.

Left: All that remains of the once mighty Shops complex. Pictured is the former coal tower on the south side of the property. In the background on the right side of the picture is what remains of the car shops. Right: Another shot of the car shops building. Courtesy Gene Cassman.

Left: North wall of the diesel shops about a week before it was demolished. The building looks stark and cold. Right: Panoramic view of abandoned diesel shops building at the Shops. Courtesy Gene Cassman.

Not much remains of the shops complex today. The car shops building was still standing on my last trip by the shops, but I believe there are plans to even bring that building down in due time.


Aerial view of the Shops complex in Lafayette.


Above Left and Right and Below: Aerial views of the Lafayette Shops. We believe they are prior to 1947, due to the absence of diesel locomotives. -Gil Hutton Photographs, courtesy of Steve Dolzall-




More aerial views of the Shops. Left: Locomotive Shops Right: Car Shops.


Left: Example of the work performed by the shops. Conversion of the ex-Army hospital cars. This car still has some work to be finished. Picture taken inside the car shops. Right: Overhead crane is lifting a F3B unit inside the locomotive shop.


Left and Right: Inside the Shops, dates unknown. Notice the safety sign above the door in the picture to the right.

Another view inside the Car Repair Shops.


Left, Right and Below: In 1956 the Shops workmen consturcted the famous wide vision cupola cabooses. The were all welded steel carbodies. Here is #81525 being constructed. -MRHTS Archives Collection-



Left: Look inside the car shops. Date unknown. Here is where most of the freight car repair and rebuliding projects were accomplished. Right: Transfer table behind the Locomotive Shops.


Left and Right: Inside the car repair shops. -MRHTS Photo Archives Collection-


Left: Wheel lathe in the Shops -Steve Dolzall Collection- Right: Looking at the Locomotive Shops.


Left and Right: Work being done on Monon locomotives inside the Locomotive Shops. -Dave Ritenour Photographs -


Left and Right: Monon F3 #204 sits outside the Locomotive Shop at Lafayette.


Inside the shops. This picture was taken long after all the equipment and machinery have been removed. Looks bare and bleak, but note the safety sign is still present. Unknown date.





Left and Right: The Lafayette Shops Yard. A close guess would be in the late 1940's early 1950's. You are looking to the railroad north.

Another view of the Lafayette Shops Yard, circa 1960's. Note presence of water tower in distance towards the left side of the photo. This water tower was at Duncan Electric. You may also note in the two photos above, it is not pictured. Again you are looking towards the northeast from near 9th Street.




Interesting photo of the changing of motive power on Train #6 at Lafayette. -Linton Moss Photograph-






The year is 1967. The last Monon football special is assembled at the Shops Yard prior to heading south to 5th Street for picking up passengers. The train would then head south to Bloomington for the IU - Purdue Oaken Bucket Game. The Hoosiers won 19-14 and represented the Big 10 in the 1968 Rose Bowl.


Bob Meyers was kind enough to take this picture of the Lafayette Yards, circa 2006. You are looking north towards the "High Line".  The new light tower came during the relocation project.  Bob couldn't take a shot from the same location because there was a train parked on the south incline.




Left: The yard at Lafayette as seen through the camera lense of Harry Zillmer. Right: Switcher #18 and business car down in the yard, circa early 1960's.


Left and Right and Below: Lafayette Shops Yard.


March 18, 1948. The month old Thoroughbred passes the Lafayette Shops. Note heavyweight dining-parlor car on rear.





Left: Lafayette Shops, date unknown. Naval gun turret sitting on a flatcar in material yard. Right: Also Lafayette Shops, date unknown. Picture of the RIP track. Both Mark Baker photos.


Left: Inside the Locomotive Shops, May 1958. Pictured are a SW1, 2 F3A's, F3, BL2 and another F3. Frank Summers photo. Right: April 1959. With the Shops buildings in the background, four F-units work in the yard.

May 5, 1948. Monon Lafayette Roundhouse being torn down.


Left and Right: Lafayette Shops Office and Stores Department.


Right and Left: The demolition of the Office and Stores Building.

Lafayette And Shops 2004


Left and Right: 4th Street 2004. After the relocation of the railroad line in Lafayette, 4th Street looks very different. The viaduct is gone, but one can still make out where the old Monon right of way used to traverse.


On my way to attend the March Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society Board Meeting, I stopped off in Lafayette to look things over. Left: What remains of the car shop building. I took this picture from the north end of the yard. In spots it appears that some of the roof as started to collaspe. Right: This picture was taken from around the general area where the main gate once was and close to where the future Memorial will be constructed. Another shot of the the car shops building.


Left: Another view of the car shops. Also pictured the NS yard. Right: The coal tower still stand guard over the former Shops complex.


The Lafayette Shops may be just a shell of its former self, but it is not forgotten. October 9, 2004 saw the dedication of a Memorial to those who made the Shops and neighborhood a vital part of Lafayette. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of The Monon Neighborhood Association, of Lafayette, Indiana the memorial is now a reality. A fitting tribute to the workers who dedicated their hard work to the railroad they loved. Their work and end results have stimulated efforts in another Monon community, Bloomington, to start working on a memorial to the memory of the Monon in their community.



Lafayette Transportation Complex 2004. After a multi-million dollar railroad relocation, the Big Four depot was moved a few blocks and reused in the downtown transportation center. Left: Looking at the north wall of the complex from the parking lot. Right: Looking toward the northwest at the south and east walls of the former Big Four Depot. There is a pedestrian bridge to cross over the tracks.

Looking north along the new relocated mainlines. The CSX, former Monon is the track to the left side of the image. Amtrak passengers board trains using the platform pictured on the left. Picture was taken from the pedestrian bridge.





Visit Greenbush Cemetary. Final resting place for former Confederate POWs and Union Soldiers killed in a train wreck near Lafayette in 1864.


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