The Colonial Crafts, a private rail car that once was part of Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited between New York City and Chicago, will run with Amtrak's final Hoosier State trip between Indianapolis and Chicago on Sunday, June 30, 2019. The Hoosier State will stop running after Indiana cut $3 million in annual funding for the Amtrak line. (Photo: Lou Capwell)
The Colonial Crafts, a private rail car that once was part of Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited between New York City and Chicago, will run with Amtrak's final Hoosier State trip between Indianapolis and Chicago on Sunday, June 30, 2019. The Hoosier State will stop running after Indiana cut $3 million in annual funding for the Amtrak line. (Photo: Lou Capwell)

LAFAYETTE – Among all the passenger rail fans saying their farewells to the Hoosier State – a four-day-a-week Indianapolis-to-Chicago route doomed by state budget cuts that kick in next week – who knew the most nostalgic of the lot would wind up being three guys barely out of high school?

“This is a train we grew up watching, and it really hurts to watch it go away,” said Gideon Comanse, a 2017 graduate of the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, a charter school in northwest Indiana.

“We really wanted to do something big for the last day of the Hoosier State,” Comanse said.

So, he and two friends – Keiwoon Krause, a recent high school graduate living in Fishers, and Nate Carpenter, still a student at the Area Career Center in Hammond – started Blue Pine Rail, an enterprise built solely, for now, on hitching vintage rail cars to the Hoosier State for a final run from Indianapolis to Chicago on June 30.

Trailing the Hoosier State that morning will be the Colonial Crafts and the Frank Thomson, a pair of rail cars built just after World War II by Pullman-Standard and now privately owned and hired out for excursions.

The Hoosier State – the full deal, including two regular two coach cars and a business class car – leaves Indianapolis at 6 a.m. Sunday, with a 7:36 a.m. stop at the Big Four Depot in downtown Lafayette’s Riehle Plaza and arriving in Chicago at 10 a.m. Central time. The Amtrak line makes a final return stop in Lafayette at 9:46 p.m. Sunday on its way to Indianapolis by 11:39 p.m.

The Colonial Crafts, a private rail car that once was part of Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited between New York City and Chicago, will run with Amtrak's final Hoosier State trip between Indianapolis and Chicago on Sunday, June 30, 2019. The Hoosier State will stop running after Indiana cut $3 million in annual funding for the Amtrak line.

The Colonial Crafts, a private rail car that once was part of Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited between New York City and Chicago, will run with Amtrak's final Hoosier State trip between Indianapolis and Chicago on Sunday, June 30, 2019. The Hoosier State will stop running after Indiana cut $3 million in annual funding for the Amtrak line. (Photo: Lou Capwell)

“We’re certainly seeing some strong ridership these final days, which is both sad and ironic,” said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman.

The Hoosier State is going by the wayside after the Indiana General Assembly, on the recommendation of Gov. Eric Holcomb, pulled a $3 million-a-year subsidy from the state next two-year budget, which kicks in July 1. Community leaders along the line – including those that chipped in roughly $500,000 a year to keep the train going – argued to keep the state money coming and the Hoosier State running. But the governor and state budget makers said they couldn’t justify paying to prop up a line that wasn’t providing increased passengers.

The Hoosier State has been running out the clock since Holcomb signed the budget in April.

Magliari said Amtrak did not plan to add cars for the Hoosier State’s last run on Sunday. As of Thursday, 104 of the 154 seats Amtrak offered on the Hoosier State had been sold in each direction.

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