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© 2017 by Heritage Trail Conservancy

Historical landmarks

Madison Railroad Incline Cut

Running beside and through the Heritage Trail and parklands and listed in the National Park Service’s National Registry of Historic Places, the Madison Railroad Incline Cut was originally part of the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, formed in 1866. The famous custom-built Reuben Wells locomotive(now at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum) operated on it for the rest of the 19th century, helping move cars up and down the track – the steepest railroad grade in the country – between the top of the hill and the City downtown by the river.

Stone Arch Bridge

At the bottom of the paved trail, the arched stone bridge over Crooked Creek sits under the raised rail bed that ascends the hill.

Historic Downtown Madison

According to the US Department of Agriculture, earliest people in the area were probably nomadic hunters, while arrowheads and other artifacts found hint of more recent Indian inhabitants. The first log cabin was built in 1808 in the area that became Madison in 1809 and the city was a major political, cultural, and economic center in the mid-1800s. Today the entire downtown is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is directly accessible to the Heritage Trail and parkland.

The Ohio River

Unique geological features are influenced by the Ohio River, one of the country’s major waterways, which runs along the south side of the City of Madison and the trail and parkland, approximately 425 feet above sea level. The Ohio River watershed is characterized by narrow, sloping ridges and steep hillsides, with low-lying areas along the river.

Conservancy timeline

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