Monday, October 25, 2010

Wouldn't You Like To Study Here?

Too late to get to class now; here comes a train!

“Sorry I’m late, professor—I was held up by a train.”

Who wouldn’t like to use that as an excuse for being late to class? Students at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, can—and do—get to use it on a regular basis.

The College, which dates back to 1903, is bisected by the Norfolk Southern Marion Branch, a busy mainline that sees between 8-10 trains a day.

The line was owned by the New York Central and Conrail before NS took it over; it formed the eastern boundary of the campus until 1952, when the College purchased seven acres on the other side of the tracks. Today the line divides the college campus in half, with most of the academic buildings on the west side and the music center, student housing and athletic facilities on the east.

In addition to impacting daily life on campus, the College has had to take trains into consideration when constructing new buildings; the music and arts centre, for example, had to be built in such a way so as to not only keep the music in, but keep the sound of trains out.

When graduation time rolls around, the registrar asks NS to avoid running trains during the ceremony so that commencement processionals and speeches are not delayed or interrupted by an inopportune train.

Students wait for a train to pass so they can
get to class.

The College provides safety instructions to students for crossing the tracks; to date, only one student has been hit by a train during the College’s existence. (In 2009; not surprisingly, alcohol was involved.)

Today the town of Goshen would like to move the busy branch to the edge of town, thus easing traffic congestion in the community. NS, however, doesn’t seem open to the idea; if anything, it is thinking of adding a second track to the busy line.

To lessen the impact of the tracks, the College is planning to build an underpass, allowing unfettered access between the two parts of the campus.

I was at Goshen College recently, attending a conference (and took the accompanying photos with my cell phone—sorry about the quality). The building I was in was located right alongside the tracks, with windows looking out at the line just 40-50 feet away. It was hard to concentrate on what the speaker was saying whenever a train went by.

I know that if I was a teenager again, I would certainly consider studying at Goshen College!

The last car rolls by; all clear!

(For more information about colleges with trains nearby, check out the Atlas HO forum archive at )

Looking north along the tracks that cuts
through the campus.


  1. Does the school have any rr related studies?

  2. I must say that I think those pictures are awesome for a cell phone. I don't have a cell phone, but all the pictures I have ever seen taken with a cell phone have been blurry and absolutely awful. Nice job making a picture that isn't blurry and even close to being in focus!

  3. No--no railroad studies at that school.

    As for the photos, thanks. The detail on the trucks is hard to see. I had to hold the camera really, really still to get those shots.