Thursday, February 20, 2020

Surplus Domes in Beech Grove

Beech Grove, IN (February 20, 2020) — Dome cars were a fixture on most of Amtrak’s western long-distance trains through the late 1970's.

Dome cars could be described as the ultimate traveling experience aboard a passenger train and their addition to such famous trains as the California Zephyr and Empire Builder vastly increased their popularity by giving patrons unequaled vistas of the passing scenery of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.

Surplus short domes are shown in March 1995 at the Beech Grove shops after being removed from service and awaiting sale to new owners.

During its early years Amtrak continued to provide dome car service via the used equipment it received from the railroads. Today, though, that is not the case. However, they do operate a version of these cars in the way of Superliners, which are double-decked cars that serve in the same function as domes with lounge-seating accommodations on the upper floors to passengers can watch the passing scenery from the highest vantage point.

But as Superliner equipment began arriving in 1979 many of the dome cars were retired and sold to private owners. A few domes were rebuilt as dome coaches for the Heritage Fleet and they operated on such trains as the City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Domes on the latter operated only west of Albany, New York. But the gradual retirement of the Heritage Fleet also meant the sidelining of its fleet of short domes. The Capitol Limited and City of New Orleans lost their domes due to the trains being assigned Superliner equipment. Amfleet II coaches became the standard for the Lake Shore Limited.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

New York Central Number 6451

Beech Grove, IN (February 13, 2020) —Pictured is New York Central Number 6451 in 1930 along with the crew of Locomotive Erecting Shop of the Beech Grove Shops as the locomotive is about to enter service.


The large crew needed to build such an enormous and complicated steam powered machine consisted of metal fabricators, welders, pipe fitters, mechanics and several other skilled tradesmen.

The facility served as the company’s major repair shop for steam locomotives and passenger and freight cars, and also contained an extensive freight rail yard. Surrounding this important building were the smaller coach, paint, boiler, and wheel shops.


Acquired by the New York Central Railway (NYC) in 1906, the Big Four operated as an independent entity until it was finally subsumed by its owner in 1922.

The shops remained in the hands of the NYC until it merged with the rival Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968 to form Penn Central, whose tenure was short-lived as it declared bankruptcy in 1970.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Big Four Association Band

Beech Grove, IN (December 10, 2019) — The Big Four Athletic Association Band is long-gone, along with the Beech Grove baseball stadium, which was located between First and Fifth Avenues in the heart of town.

The Big Four Association Band, seen here on May 8th, 1926

The community was basically left without a musical performance unit from the time that the Big Four Band folded until the high school band was formed in the 1950's.

The Big Four Association Band performing at the Beech Grove Baseball Stadium

Beech Grove relied on the railroad band to play at celebrations since as both a town and a city, never had an organized community band. The Big Four Association Band played throughout Indiana at various parades and events.

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Spectacular drone footage of Beech Grove Shops

Beech Grove, IN (December 8, 2019) — This spectacular drone footage catches some of the best shots of Amtrak's primary repair facility located at the former Big Four shops in Beech Grove Indiana. This was the scene on July 8, 2016 that included a look at Amtrak #66 in Heritage paint.


Beech Grove is Amtrak's primary maintenance facility. The shops were originally constructed in 1904-1908 by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (the "Big Four"), servicing a network stretching across the Midwest into Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.


The facility was used as the company's repair shop for steam locomotives, passenger, and freight cars.

The facility passed to the New York Central Railroad in 1922, on its formal acquisition of the Big Four, and then on to Penn Central Transportation in 1968 when the Central merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Penn Central declared bankruptcy in 1970. Amtrak purchased the facility from the bankrupt Penn Central in 1975.


Although the shops were acquired by the New York Central Railway (NYC) in 1906, the Big Four worked as an independent business until it was formally merged with its owner in 1922.

Drone video was shot with a DJI Phantom 3. For more amazing train videos, check out Brian Sellers YouTube channel HERE.

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Beech Grove man charged in fatal gunfight

Beech Grove, IN (December 6, 2019) — A man is facing four charges, including murder, in connection with a bar gunfight that killed another man. Derek Oechsle, 32, of Beech Grove also was charged Thursday with attempted murder, battery and criminal recklessness in connection with the fatal shooting of Christopher Smith, 41, of Indianapolis on November 29 at Jake's Pub.


Witnesses told police Oechsle came into the bar and sat down across from a group celebrating Smith's bachelor party, The Indianapolis Star reported, citing a probable cause affidavit.

One member of the group who told police Oechsle stared at him and asked Oechsle whether he thought he was pretty. Oechsle got up, pulled out a gun and hit the man in the head with it, the affidavit said.


Smith was trying to separate the two when Oechsle allegedly fired and struck Smith several times, the affidavit said. Smith suffered one shot to the head and one shot that hit multiple organs.

Another witness pulled out his own gun and shot Oechsle, who then ran outside and fell, the affidavit said. Smith and Oechsle were taken to a hospital, where Smith was pronounced dead.

Oechsle was booked into the Marion County Jail. His attorney said he had no comment on the case at this time.

SOURCE: Associated Press
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