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The Goshen College campus has been shaped by a north-south railroad line since the institution's relocation here in 1903. What at that time was the Cincinnati, Wabash, & Michigan railroad (later New York Central, later Conrail) formed the east boundary of campus until the 1952 purchase of seven acres east of the tracks. Within ten years, the college had begun constructing residence halls on the east side of the tracks that have bisected campus at grade-level since that time. The existence of the rail line, along with the imminent completion of an electric interurban line that from 1905 to 1940 skirted campus to the south and west, helped convince the school to move to its present location.
The railroad's presence has been a constant factor in campus life and planning since the beginning. Photographs in campus yearbooks regularly memorialize the tracks. Educational and recreational activities are routinely impacted, at times humorously, with a train whistle or rumble, and students and faculty alike find their last-minute movements suddenly stymied by a passing train. Design requirements and locations for new structures have to factor in the presence of the rails and the impact of passing trains. The registrar makes humble supplication annually to the rail company to ensure that commencement processionals and speeches are not delayed or interrupted by an inopportune train. Though the college attempts to provide safety instruction (and even levy fines), students have difficulty resisting the risks of climbing over stopped trains or occasionally tasting the illicit romance of riding the rails.
Umble, John S. Goshen College, 1894-1954: A Venture In Christian Higher Education. Goshen, IN: Goshen College, 1954.