The Perfect Hotel for Rail Fans.
INDIANAPOLIS–I am here, as most of you know, to attend the annual Fall meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. Our gathering is being held at the Crowne Plaza and, before mentioning anything about our meeting, I must note a few things about this unusual hotel.
First, it is literally a few hundred feet from the new railroad station, which is certainly convenient since that’s the way most of us arrived here. But the hotel is constructed within the shell of the old station, which was built in 1888.
Massive steel beams criss cross some of the public areas and 26 of the rooms were literally built in 13 original pullman cars, which are still here, parked on the original tracks. The photo above was taken at the door to my room, which is–alas–a standard hotel room. The very good group rate being given to NARP members does not apply to those rooms.
The first three nights here have been fine; however I expect tomorrow night to be hell. The Indianapolis Colts are playing the New England Patriots at a stadium just three blocks from here. The hotel is sold out to Patriot fans who will either be celebrating a victory or suffering a loss. I don’t expect the few of us NARP people still here will be getting much sleep.
The meetings scheduled for today were interesting and worthwhile as usual, but the highlight for me was our luncheon speaker, Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific Holdings. IPH operates a number of passenger rail operations, including the Hoosier State which runs between Chicago and Indianapolis four days a week. (Amtrak’s Cardinal covers the route on the other three days.)
And, several times each month, Ed’s company also attaches three vintage railcars–a sleeper, a lounge car and a diner–to Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, carrying passengers between there and Chicago in luxury.
He’s an interesting guy doing some exciting things, and we wish him well.