Monon Man; Ron Marquardt

Ron Marquardt
Monon Engineer
I love when my job brings me across people like Ron Marquardt. Ron and I crossed paths this afternoon at the Indiana Railway Museum. He and some fellow members of the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society helped usher "Lynne" (a historic Monon Railroad Passenger Car) back to the depot at the Indiana Railway Museum. 

Originally built by the Pullman Company in 1924, the train car has returned to French Lick where it will undergo a restoration.

"Lynne" the historic Monon
RailRoad Passenger Car
The railcar in in excellent condition for being 87 years old. With the help and donations of many the car should be totally restored by late summer and go into service. The car had a total rebuild in 1987 that cost $500,000.00 so there is little to do now.  The society has already restored two operating Monon cabooses in service. One at the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville and one at the Indiana Railway Museum in French Lick.

This car is historic because it is one of only 3 Monon Railroad Corporate Business owned by the railroad. It was used by railroad officials to allow railroad executives to travel on the railroad to conduct business. This is the last of these cars still in available for operation. The car travel to French Lick may times and was parked in front of the hotel for railroad executives many times from 1953 to 1971.

The Monon arriving at the French Lick Spring Hotel
Sometimes at the helm of the those excursions was Ron the engineer I met earlier. He had a 40 year career with Monon and the companies that followed, and occasionally he would run the train for the Kentucky Derby. He said they might have 30 or more private railcars all lined up to make the excursion to French Lick after the big race in Louisville. He vividly remembers the passengers partying until the wee hours of the night. I guess he gives new meaning to the term "designated driver."

Ron also happens to be the photo archivist for the MRHTS and promised to send along some great photos from their collection. I will be sure to share them when they arrive.