Here is a hard to find alligator match safe from the Monon Route (the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway). This one is cast iron (some were also made in brass). It is a terrific advertising piece with the names of important destinations the railroad served cast prominently in raised letters on its head, legs and tail: Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Florida.
This critter is in SUPERB condition with no metal damage and fine casting quality. It has a smooth feel when you hold it in your hand. Its scales and markings are distinct and easy to read. The eyes and teeth add expression. The top lifts up readily from the hollow body, where there is a generous space for matches. Ridges across the lower jaw serve as a striker. There is a small bit of original dark red color left inside his jaws and dark green inside the body. The outside surface of these pieces were never painted; color was applied only inside.
"Railroadiana II: The Official Price Guide for 2011 and Beyond" (Knous) lists these Monon alligators with a value of $250-$300. The book warns that there are reproductions (fairly easy to spot due to lack of quality), but we guarantee that this one is an authentic original.
BACKGROUND: The Monon Route began as the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway. On January 11, 1956 the CI&L officially adopted its longtime nickname, "Monon," as its actual corporate title. An American railroad that operated almost entirely within the state of Indiana beginning in 1897, the Monon was merged into the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in 1971. Much of the former Monon right of way is owned today by CSX Transportation. The Monon served six colleges and universities along its line: Purdue University in West Lafayette; Wabash College in Crawfordsville; DePauw University in Greencastle; Indiana University in Bloomington; Butler University in Indianapolis and St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer. The university traffic was important enough to the Monon that the railroad used the schools' colors on its rolling stock. The red and white of Wabash College (and similar to the colors of Indiana University) was used on the Monon's passenger equipment, and the black and gold used by both DePauw University and Purdue University adorned the railroad's diesel freight locomotives and later replaced the red and white on passenger equipment as well.
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Monon Route Railroad Cast iron Alligator Match Safe CI&L Railway