CHAPTER VIII
THE ERA OF RAILROADS AND ELECTRICITY.

Following the era of river and canal and stage-coach transportation came the railroads. During the stirring epoch of internal improvements of the early thirties, railroads and canals were planned to supplement each other. Eight railroads were chartered by the Indiana legislature in 1832, and during the next five years twenty-eight charters in all were granted for proposed lines. But for the time the canals were pushed with greater energy, and the era of railroads in Indiana begins with the middle of the century.

The first railroad in the state was a mile and a half long, at Shelbyville, as part of the Lawrenceburg and Indianapolis line. It cost Si.500 a mile, and was opened July 4, 1834. Its traction equipment was one horse, which "was found able to draw forty or fifty persons at the rate of nine miles an hour." A few miles of the line from Madison to Indianapolis was opened in 1838, and marked the real beginning of the great railroad system of the state.

After the collapse of state enterprise in promoting internal improvements, the Madison road was turned over to a private company. The first train steamed into Indianapolis on October 1, 1847, and at this date the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad was the only one of importance in the state. The progress of railroad building during the next few years is indicated in the figures for 1850, when five short roads comprised only 212 miles in the aggregate, and for 1852-53, when twenty roads were in operation in the state. Railroads ruined the canal enterprises, and it is also noteworthy that the towns which grew during the second half of the century were those located on railroad lines.

The first railroad between the Wabash and Indianapolis was built between Terre Haute and the capital, largely through the enterprise of Chauncey Rose, who was the first president. This road (now the Vandalia) was completed at the close of 1851. Up and down the Wabash valley the freight traffic was still carried by the canal and river packets. On the south the nearest railroad to Sullivan county was a line that had been started from Evansville about 1850. and after progressing as far as Vincennes halted there for lack of means. Chauncey Rose saw the value of a southern connection for his east and .west road, had the line surveyed, raised founds, and W. D. Griswold built the first railroad through Sullivan county and was placed in control of its management.

This was the origin of the Evansville & Terre Haute Railroad, which was completed through Sullivan county in 1854. The first train passed through Sullivan over this line November 25, 1854. For several months preceding passengers had been conveyed between Sullivan and Carlisle by stage.

It is not surprising that the advent of the first railroad to a community was made the occasion of celebration, and the year 1854 was marked by several gatherings in Sullivan and Carlisle and elsewhere in the county to give proper distinction to an event of so much significance to the whole welfare of the county and its people. The construction of railroads at that time partook more of the character of a popular enterprise than is true of present undertakings. Large subscriptions were raised in the country tributary to the roads, and without this assistance few of the earlier roads could have been built. It is estimated that Sullivan county contributed about $100,000 to the building of its first railroad, and that over half of this amount was paid in 1854, a year which was marked by an almost total failure of crops. Carlisle gave the largest amount of any town in the county. The first survey located the road three miles west of the village, and rather than lose the great prize some sixteen public-spirited citizens subscribed over thirty thousand dollars to the railroad company.

The railroad did not solve all the problems of transportation for the people of Sullivan county. Either the railroad management proved somewhat arbitrary in its dealings, or the people were slow to accustom themselves to the new conditions. There is curious evidence of this attitude toward the railroad in a brief article in the Democrat of January 24, 1857, in which complaint is made of the exorbitant railroad rates and of the lack of depot facilities. The wagoners of Sullivan had met a few days previously, with Isaac Voorhiss chairman and John Carico secretary of the meeting, and had resolved to establish a wagon line to Terre Haute for transportation of freight at not higher rates than those charged by the railroad company, with the advantage to the customers in saving drayage charges at both ends of the line. Whether the wagon men were successful in getting a considerable share of the traffic is not known, but it is certain that competition between the railroad and the wagon road would soon result in complete victory for the former. ("An increase of freight has justified the putting on of an extra train, so that we now have an accommodation train each way daily."-Democrat, April 10, 1862.)

In the election for representative for the legislature in 184-, the charge against the re-election of Benjamin Wolfe was made that he had voted to charter the E. and T. H. R. R. at the previous session, which had failed to pass; that if re-elected and the charter was granted, that the horses, now worth fifty to seventy-five dollars, would not be worth more than twenty-five or thirty. The issue failed. Mr. Wolfe was elected and the charter was granted.

For twenty years the county had the one railroad as the central commercial artery. Some time after the war arose discussion and agitation over the construction of what was known as an "east and west railroad," the principal terminal points of the proposed line being St. Louis and Cincinnati. The career of this east and west line has been a checkered one, and in its original construction it was an example of certain railroad enterprises which were projected in different sections of the country and nearly all of which were principally productive of expensive litigation and the unloading upon counties, townships and individuals of large obligations with a few miles of railroad to show for them.

The proposition was first brought to practical consideration by the voters of the county early in 1870, when a vote was taken on the matter of laying a tax of two dollars per hundred on all personal and real property of the county for the benefit of the projected railroad line. Anti-donation meetings were held at Carlisle and elsewhere, and when the election was held in April, only a little more than five hundred votes were cast in favor of the tax, and nearly 1,900 against it. Gill township voted for the tax and in Hamilton the vote was close, but elsewhere the people showed themselves unmistakably opposed to any such county subsidy.

The Cincinnati and St. Louis Straight Line Railroad was the name of the enterprise which received most support in the county. The year 1872 was fruitful of railroad projects, frequent election notices appearing in the Democratof that year. Support for these undertakings was sought not only from the county as a whole but from the individual townships. Thus twenty-five freeholders of Fairbanks township petitioned that ten thousand dollars should be appropriated by the township to aid in the building of the Terre Haute and Southwestern, the appropriation to be invested in the stock of the railroad, and a condition of the appropriation was that the line should be built from the northern limit of the township to a point not further north than the Narrows. At the same time the Cincinnati and Terre Haute Railroad was asking aid from the county, to the amount of $73,000 from the county, and at the same election Hamilton township and Cass and Gill townships were asked individually to contribute two dollars for each one hundred dollars of taxable property for the construction of the east and west railroad. The election was held February 12, and the county tax defeated by a large majority, but the three townships mentioned each voted the subsidy asked for by the C. & St. L. S. L.

In the following July the tax voted by the three townships was assessed and collected, at the rate of 60 cents on the hundred dollars. For over two years nothing is heard of these railroad enterprises. In October, 1874, mention is made of a meeting held at the court house in the interest of the east and west railroad, and it is reported at the time that work was being pushed on the section between the I. & V. and Bloomfield. In November, 1874, a meeting of Cass township citizens was held in the Center schoolhouse to aid in making arrangements to secure the east and west railroad, and the committee appointed for that purpose consisted of William Bledsoe, Dan Case, Jefferson Alumbaugh, Thomas G. Neeley, Wiley Gambill, Flemmon Keen, and J. M. Stansil. In the following month the township voted a two per cent tax for the purpose.

In 1875 the east and west railroad made considerable progress. Those interested in the enterprise met at Sullivan in July, and at the time it was reported that a contract had been entered into for the construction of the entire line from the Wabash river to Bedford, the contractors being Buell, Clark and Company. The section from Switz City to I. & V. was to be completed by October 1st, and the rest of the line by July 1, 1876. In September Gill township gave a large majority in favor of a two per cent tax for this railroad, provided it was built on the specified route.

The work progressed slowly. In April, 1876, an item states that the narrow-gauge trains were to run into the Evansville and Crawfordsville depot, a third rail to be laid in the track for that purpose. But the first definite announcement of operation of trains to Sullivan by the new line was a paragraph in the Democrat of July 15, 1877: "The long expected locomotive of the narrow-gauge railroad arrived in town last Monday. It is a very handsome little engine, and is named the Joseph W. Wolfe. Iron is on hand for track-laying, and a frog is to be put in on the track of the E. & T. H. at the junction."

Henceforth for many years the narrow-gauge line becomes a popular subject for the shafts of ridicule from the editor of the Democrat. One of the amusing arraignments appeared in an issue of July, 1877, when a bold leader announced a "Strike on the Narrow Gauge," the continuation being: "The following communication was handed to us by one of the committee with request for its publication. We hope the matter will be amicably adjusted without calling upon the president for troops. 'Mr. Joseph W. Wolfe, president. Sir: We, the undersigned, a regularly constituted committee of the employes, including engineers, firemen, brakemen, conductors and yard hands on your road, demand fifteen per cent advance on our wages, to take effect from and after July 24, 1877. If our modest request is not promptly complied with we will strike at 12 o'clock M. tonight. We have the assurance of a strong alliance and co-operation of the Crawford and Lockwood Bysickle What-is-it Line. Our language should not be construed as intimidating, but if our wages are not increased, we will tear up the track, ditch the engines, burn your round-house, pull up your piling and plant your road-bed in sweet potatoes, as productive industries must prevail if the railroads go under. An early reply is respectfully solicited.-John Flannagan, Buncomb O'Flint, John Stout, Child Fairweather, Bumpres Hobbs, committee.' " A little later it was reported that the strike had subsided without trouble.

A more serious review of the condition of this road appears in the issue of October 10, 1877: "The narrow-gauge road has failed again. We do not know how many times this has happened in the past two or three years. A number of different contractors have taken hold of it, work to the amount of $11,000 has been done in grading and pile-driving, ties have been furnished, a neat little locomotive is here but not paid for. J. W. Wolfe has guaranteed orders until he finds himself involved for considerable amounts. The last collapse is due to the refusal of the subscribers to the bonus to give their notes payable on completion of the road. The contractors evidently expected to get the subsidies before work was done."

In November of the same year a public meeting was held at Sullivan in the interest of the narrow gauge. A technical error by which the language of the election notice did not correspond with that of the petition threatened to invalidate the collection of the taxes voted two years before. Mr. Wolfe, the president of the enterprise, addressed the meeting, explaining the error and reviewing his work for the enterprise undertaken on his part without hope of personal benefit.

Early in January. 1878, it was announced that General Lyon and other citizens of Quincy, Illinois, had assumed the obligations of the road and had undertaken to complete the line so that cars would be running from the Wabash river to Linton by the first of July. The Democrat urged that all taxes and subscriptions should be paid at once.

It was the summer of 1880 before the county began receiving any benefit from this railroad. In July it was announced that the narrow gauge was making preparations for business, having already hauled considerable wheat from the east side of the county. Will Stark was appointed first agent at Sullivan. Early in August the first excursion to Sullivan over this road was run on account of the Democratic mass meeting.

Another chapter in the history of the narrow gauge is told in the issue of the Democrat of February 1, 1882. Acting according to the directions of the court. Judge Black, who had been appointed receiver for the Cincinnati, Effingham & Quincy Construction Company, sold the assets of that corporation at the court-house door in Sullivan. The purchaser was John B. Lyon, the principal creditor of the bankrupt company. The assets brought considerably more than their appraised value. Among the assets were the subscriptions and the taxes voted in the different townships. Suits were brought for the collection of the taxes in Cass, Hamilton and Gill townships, and Gill township succeeded in evading the collection for some years.

Financial difficulties were not the only ones that assailed this railroad. In November, 1883, heavy rains caused floods that did great damage to all the railroads, but were specially disastrous to the narrow gauge, the road-bed and bridges in the river valley being entirely destroyed, and it was not until the following August that the track was built down to the river bank. The condition of the line is shown in some items in the Democrat that appeared in the spring of 1885. On one occasion, as the train was pulling into the station, about fifty feet of the track gave way, the engine, tender and a heavily loaded coal car crushed through the rotten ties, and was left embedded in the mud. A few days later another section of track gave way about a mile cast of Sullivan, and three flatcars were left in the mud. In the following summer it was stated that Mr. P. H. Blue had taken charge of the road and would put it in good condition. In 1886 the general offices were moved to Sullivan, a bridge was constructed over the Wabash, and some additions were made to the rolling stock. The first train crossed the Wabash river in April. At this time the full title of the road had become the Indianapolis and Illinois Southern, though locally it was always referred to as the "narrow gauge." In June, 1886, the road was mortgaged to W. R. McKeen and John S. Alley, trustees, for half a million dollars, to secure a bond issue of that amount. A portion of the proceeds of these bonds were used for paying off matured bonds, while the remainder was to be devoted to the rehabilitation of road-bed and rolling stock. By the first of July, 1886, through trains began running over the line as far as Effingham.

A statement of the road's condition in October, 1887, enumerated between five hundred and six hundred employes, reported that the road had been made standard gauge as far as Palestine, and that the gauge would be uniform throughout to Effingham by the close of the year, that almost every bridge was new, that a new iron bridge was being constructed over the Embarrass river, and that a hundred new freight cars had been ordered.

Another stage in the tedious chronicles of this road was reached in January, 1890, when a foreclosure sale of the I. & I. S. R. R. was held, and the property was bid in by the first-mortgage holders. In August, 1892, as reported by the Indianapolis News, the board of state tax commissioners listened to a most pathetic tale concerning the helpless, hopeless poverty and bankruptcy of this road. John T. Hays of Sullivan was the pleader before the board in behalf of the I. & I. S. He reviewed its history as a narrow-gauge line, built by a construction company which got all the stocks and bonds. The rails used were but thirty-five to forty pounds a yard and were second-hand at that, and yet since that iron was laid in 1880 less than ten miles of it has been replaced. The ties were for a narrow-gauge line, but were not changed when the gauge was broadened. The rails are, claimed the pleader, absolutely worn out, and not over 25 per cent of the ties can be used when the new track is laid, and the right of way is too narrow for a standard gauge. The only portion of ballasted track on the entire road is about half a mile near Sullivan. The length of the entire road in Indiana and Illinois is eighty-eight miles, and the total earnings for the past year were $81,281, and the net earnings did not suffice to pay one cent of interest on the obligations. The four locomotives were bought second-hand from the Vandalia in 1887 at $4,000 apiece. The rails are so small that the flanges of the engine and car wheels cut out channels in the rotten old ties, these grooves being a sort of protection, since they prevent the rails from spreading. The engines are in the ditch scores of times in a year, and some of the wheels are on the ground more days than not. At this point of Mr. Hays' speech, according to the version of the News, the blare of a brass band was heard, and all recognized its melody as "Listen to my tale of woe." The woful description was then continued by the Sullivan attorney, who said that the railroad shops consisted of a blacksmith shop, and that the one passenger coach was a survival of the narrow-gauge period, and its width had not been changed, and standard-gauge trucks had been placed underneath.

Not until the close of the decade did relief come to this much ridiculed railroad. In September, 1899, articles of incorporation were filed at the clerk's office for the Illinois & Eastern Railroad Company, which was thought to be the final move in the purchase of the I. & I. S. by the Illinois Central, and in the following year the Indianapolis Southern and the Illinois and Indianapolis were consolidated under the former name, both being Illinois Central lines. In November, 1906, the line between Effingham and Indianapolis was finally completed, and service established between those cities.

In January, 1872, it was announced that passengers were carried without change from Sullivan to Chicago, over the E., T. H. & C. Up to that time this railroad had always been referred to as the Evansville & Crawfordsville, which was the original name, but about this time it assumed the title of Evansville and Terre Haute, which has since been borne by that portion of this line south of Terre Haute. The opening of the road to Chicago was regarded as of special advantage to the industrial interests of Sullivan county, as it undoubtedly was. It opened a direct trade for the coal mines, and stimulated that industry to a great development during the next few years.

The Democrat of August 6, 1903, gives the following historical outline of the E., & T. H. Railroad: It was chartered in 1847 as the Evansville & Wabash, being the third road built in the state. It was first intended to build the road from Evansville to Olney, Illinois, Crossing the river at Mt. Carmel. The stockholders were Evansville people who took shares of fifty dollars each. Sam Hall was the first president. After ten miles of the road had been constructed, the route was changed with Vincennes as the objective point. Among the later presidents of the road were John Ingle and John Martin, and in 1882 D. J. Mackey was made president, Capt. G. J. Grammer became president in 1893, and during his term many extensive improvements were made. The consolidation of the road with the C. & E. I. under the Rock Island management occurred during the presidency of H. C. Barlow, who assumed the office in 1900.

The northeast quarter of Sullivan county is a network of railroad lines which carry off the output of the coal mines. These short lines are all branches either of the E. & T. H. or of the Southern Indiana. The latter railroad, throughout its entire length, is essentially a coal road, and until recently has made no attempt to accommodate passenger traffic, and has done little business outside of handling the enormous coal tonnage which originates along its lines.

The main line extended southeast from Terre Haute to Linton and beyond, passing through only the northeast corner of this county. What was known as the Sullivan county branch was built from a point about a mile south of Jasonville. In May, 1901, its construction was said to be progressing rapidly. This branch resulted in the establishment of the railroad station of Gilmour, which was named for the superintendent of the Alum Cave mine. In January, 1900, it was reported in the paper that John R. Walsh had driven from Jasonville to Sullivan over the route of the proposed extension, and that it was definitely decided that the branch should be brought to Sullivan. Work on the Black Hawk-Sullivan extension was begun early in 1902, and at the same time the final scheme of the lines in this county was adopted, including a branch from Glendora to Shelburn, and thence northeast to the Sullivan extension. It was believed that these different roads would practically control the choice coal fields of this county.

The opening of passenger traffic over the Southern Indiana for Sullivan did not occur till the end of 1905. Trains began running on November 13th, though some trains had been running on the shorter branches from Sullivan since the latter part of August. The route to Terre Haute by this line is about five miles longer than by the E. & T. H.

Electric Railroads.

At the meeting of the town board of Sullivan on December 11, 1902, four companies were heard with regard to franchises for electric lines. R. G. Haxton wanted a franchise for the Black Diamond Railroad, to connect Evansville and Indianapolis, via Sullivan. Parties in Sullivan asked for an interurban franchise, the Indiana Traction Company proposed to build a road from Vincennes to Terre Haute, and the Sullivan Light, Heat and Power Company protested against the granting of license for the time being, on the ground that they were considering a local street railway to operate in connection with any interurban lines. All the petitions were tabled. In the following January the Indiana Coal Belt Traction Company was incorporated to build a line from Sullivan to Linton, but the town of Sullivan refused to grant them a license in the following April. In June, 1903, the Sullivan town board granted franchises to the Indiana Coal Belt Traction Company and to the Western Indiana Traction Company, the latter being a Vincennes corporation. Both were given franchises for the use of certain streets for a period of fifty years, their lines to be completed by the end of May, 1908. Farmersburg also granted a franchise to the Western Indiana Company.

May 26, 1904, it was announced that a company backed by Chicago capital and known as the Terre Haute Southern Electric Company was given a franchise by the county commissioners, the line to run from Terre Haute to Sullivan, Linton, Vincennes, Jasonville, Merom and intermediate points. The actual construction of an interurban line had not yet begun, though there was much discussion of the undertaking and the granting of franchises. Early in 1905 it was said that three electric lines were seeking entrance to Sullivan streets, and that in the competition for traffic the new Southern Indiana Railroad would also prove a formidable opponent of these interurban lines, since it proposed to run ten accommodation trains a day, with low fares.

In the spring of 1905 the Terre Haute Traction & Light Company made public their plans to build an interurban line to Sullivan, and early in April the company began actual work along the route of survey south of Terre Haute. In October of that year the Sullivan town board granted the company privilege of constructing tracks on either Court, Section, State or Broad streets, for a period of twenty-five years, for a consideration of $1,000. Shelburn had granted the franchise free, and Farmersburg received five hundred dollars for the grant. Work of construction continued during 1905 and through the spring of 1906, and the first interurban car running on a regular schedule left the public square at Sullivan on June 24, 1906, at 7 a. m. A large crowd of passengers took this first ride. A majority of the local passenger traffic between Sullivan and Terre Haute is now cared for by the interurban line.

In the spring of 1907 the Terre Haute and Merom Traction Company was formed, and a line surveyed for an interurban road from Terre Haute through Prairietown, Middletown, Fairbanks, Staffordshire, Scott City and Merom. At the November election of the same year the proposition of granting a subsidy to this company was submitted to the voters of the townships through which the road would pass. It indicates the emphatic attitude of the people on this subject as contrasted with their sentiments and actions of thirty or forty years ago that all the townships defeated the movement by heavy majorities. During 1908 some work was done along the proposed route, but the original company went into a receivership in May, and at this writing the townships of Fairbanks and Turman are still without transportation facilities.

Chronological Notes.

Feb. 28, 1872-Meeting called to consider proposition from the Terre Haute and Cincinnati R. R. Co. to run their road through Carlisle provided a two per cent tax is raised. The meeting unanimously in favor.

June 26, 1872-Terre Haute and Southwestern will cross the Wabash at Chenowith's ferry. Cross ties already contracted for.

Sept. 10, 1873-A branch railroad to be built from the E. & T. H. from Shelburn to the coal fields in Jackson township.

Sept. 2, 1874-The railroad company is planning to move the Sullivan depot either three-quarters of a mile north or south of present location.

March 21, 1876-The Indianapolis and Sullivan Narrow Gauge Coal Railroad has been organized.

August 28, 1888-A strike of engineers on the E. & T. H., but the trouble was settled by restoring two men who had been discharged.

Nov. 5, 1889-The St. Louis, Indianapolis & Eastern Railroad incorporated. First directors, P. H. Blue, C. P. Walker, F. E. Basler, J. T. Hays, S. R. Engle, C. R. Hinkle, John Giles.






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