Indianapolis Southern Railway

Starting in 1847, the city of Indianapolis had been a railroad center. With the opening of the first line on 1 October 1847 (the Madison & Indianapolis), the number of railroads just grew. Before the end of the 19th Century, Indianapolis had many railroad lines going in every direction. Except due south. That would change in the early 20th Century when the last railroad line to be built to the Hoosier capital was completed. That railroad was authorized to enter the city as the “Indianapolis Southern Railway.”

The Indianapolis Southern Railway was organized under the general laws of Indiana on 16 August 1899. The idea was to connect Indianapolis to the coal fields in the Greene County, Indiana, area and to Effingham, Illinois. While coal from the Greene County area was already arriving in Indianapolis via two lines of the Vandalia (the main Terre Haute line and the Vincennes line), the idea was that having more access to coal would drive the cost down. It also didn’t hurt that the franchise that was granted stipulated that there would be no more than 1/2 cent per ton-mile for coal transportation to Indianapolis.

It wasn’t until 11 April 1902 that an ordinance allowing the Indianapolis Southern Railway into Indianapolis was approved. “AN ORDINANCE ratifying, confirming and approving a certain contract and agreement made and entered into on the seventeenth day of March, 1902, between the City of Indianapolis, by and through it Board of Public Works, and the Indianapolis Southern Railway.” The ordinance specifically mentions the several “streets, alleys and public places” that the railroad was allowed to build their route. The original route was described as follows: “beginning on the south line of Southern Avenue, running thence northwardly, crossing said Southern avenue about ten (10) feet east of its intersection with the east line of Ruecker street (Southern avenue being the south line of the city limits of the City of Indianapolis), and running thence northwardly to a point where such line intersects Pogue’s Run at about the south line of Wisconsin street in the said City of Indianapolis; thence following along the line of Pogue’s Run from the south line of Wisconsin street to Merrill street, and thence continuing northward to South street and crossing South street at a point 130 feet east of the intersection of the south line of South street and the east line of Missouri street.” The ordinance goes on to describe how it is to connect to the Indianapolis Union tracks at South Capitol avenue.

The first change to come to the whole Indianapolis Southern project was when, on 12 June 1904, it was announced that the Illinois Central Railroad had acquired trackage rights on the not yet completed Indianapolis Southern. The officers of the IS was VERY adamant about the fact that the IS had NOT been purchased by the IC. The IS would complete its construction, and operate when completed.

The Indianapolis Star of 12 June 1904 reports that “it has been understood for some time that the Illinois Central was furnishing money to construct the road, which will now give Indianapolis another of the strongest systems of roads in the west. The Indianapolis Southern connects with the former Indiana & Illinois railroad, which runs from Effingham, Ill., to Switz City.” The Star also goes on to state that Indianapolis will benefit from another road company to the city. (To that point, the majority of lines into Indianapolis were either PRR or NYC affiliated. The Vandalia and Panhandle were Pennsylvania Lines. The Big Four was affiliated with the NYC, and the Lake Erie and Western [became Nickel Plate] was owned by the NYC.)

A consolidation occurred on 22 June 1906, combining the Illinois and Indiana Railroad and the Indianapolis Southern Railway to become the Indianapolis Southern Railroad company. According to ICC documents filed during World War I, the construction of the line was completed by this company.

In 1911, the Illinois Central alleged that it was owed $1,181,698.22 (to 1 July 1910) in interest on a $10 million bond issued by the Indianapolis Southern. Since that 1 Jul 1910, only $125,000 was paid towards the arrearage. The management of the Indianapolis Southern didn’t dispute the bill at all. A decree was rendered in the United States Circuit Court for Eastern Illinois providing that the railroad be foreclosed and sold to cover the expenses, unless the principal and interest accrued was paid by 19 February 1911.

The Illinois Central purchased the Indianapolis Southern Railroad at foreclosure on 22 May 1911. The line from Newton, Illinois to Indianapolis would become the Indiana Railroad (INRD) in 1986.

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