Midland Trace Trail - Westfield
A Brief History
Located in the heart of downtown Westfield, IN, this rail trail was once part of an historic short line railway. The railway started as the Anderson, Lebanon & St Louis Railroad in 1875. Since then, the railroad operated under several corporate names. The initial vision was to have the rail line transport to three major mid-west cities: Chicago, St. Louis and Cleveland. But, the railroad proved to be less than profitable and only operated through Central Indiana. In 1885 it became recognized as the Midland Railway Co. (for which the Midland Trace Trail is named) and ran 127 miles from Muncie to Brazil until it went bankrupt in 1902. In 1903 the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad acquired control, incorporating as the Central Indiana Railway Co. Despite efforts in making physical improvements, the companies’ financial struggles did not improve. Strong protest prevented abandonment of the railroad until 1928. Over the following years, track mileage began to decrease. In 1951, a wealthy meat packer, Ike Duffy, offered to purchase the company but, instead, became a $1 a year president. After working diligently to replace worn rails, ties, and ballast, he impressed the shipping industry, and in less than a year’s time Duffy had turned a major deficit into a profit and continued to see profits. However, by 1976 this short line didn’t fit into the larger railroad world that was created by Conrail and other large railroad companies. The railway survived another 10 years as part of Conrail. By 1986 the line west of Lapel, including the line through Westfield was abandoned. Only nine miles was operating from Anderson to Lapel, which was connected with Conrail at Anderson, during which time it was named the Central Indiana and Western Railroad.
Today, ongoing plans to upgrade US Hwy. 31 have led Westfield to initiate the development of the Midland Trace Trail. After 5 years of planning, raising funds and awareness, the Midland Trace is becoming a reality. To date, three sections are completed. The main section of Midland Trace is a 12 foot wide paved trail that runs from east to west through the downtown area just south of SR32 and east of Hwy.31. This section of the trail extends one mile from Union St. to Carey Rd. with a .25 mile connecting trail to Simon Moon Park. The west end point of this section connects to Grand Junction Trail. Aside from a peaceful walk in a relaxing setting, jogging and rollerblading, the trail also offers access to shopping, restaurants and other downtown businesses. The other two segments are located west of US Hwy 31. One is less than a half mile, stretching from Quaker Park to the Anna Kendall Greenway, and is part of the future Monon Loop. It is 12 feet wide and surfaced with stone. The other segment, located at Spring Mill Rd. which runs a short distance to the west. This section is still underdeveloped and is a dirt surface. These two segments offer neighborhood and park-like surroundings. For those who are looking for a bit longer trek, just pick up the Monon Greenway from the Anna Kendall Greenway and take it all the way to downtown Indianapolis without leaving the trail. Trail amenities at the Old Friends Cemetery trailhead include benches, bike racks and drinking fountains as well as all of the adjacent park facilities including parking.