Expansion of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad

I have covered, at various times, the Madison & Indianapolis (M&I) Railroad. Long story short, on 01 October 1847, the M&I became officially the first long distance railroad in the state of Indiana. The line, covering the 87 miles between its title cities, helped in making Indianapolis a city legally.

I have also mentioned, several times, the conceit shown by the M&I management due to the fact that they were the first. Such conceit didn’t help the company in the long run. For instance, the time they turned down helping another railroad, because “they were not in the business of charity.” That was said to Chauncey Rose, owner of the Terre Haute and Indianapolis. This was to bite the M&I in the hindquarters, as the TH&I ended up being the much larger railroad.

The M&I also invested in several feeder roads along the way. Lines connecting to Martinsville and Shelbyville (and points beyond) did get financial help from the M&I. In the end, however, the M&I’s main competitor benefitted more. And that competitor ended up, in the end, buying the M&I.

I am sure that it was mentioned somewhere along the line that the M&I had entered a merger agreement with the Peru & Indianapolis, creating a line that would extend from Madison to Peru, through Indianapolis. The Peru & Indianapolis ultimately became the Nickel Plate route through Fishers and Noblesville. (And any more said on the subject is best left unsaid at this point.) That merger was contested by shareholders in the companies. Ultimately, a judge shot down the merger, forcing the companies to revert to their original forms.

But there was another planned expansion of the M&I that has had very little notice over the 174 years (as of this writing) since it was approved by the Indiana legislature. In 1845, two years before the completion of the railroad, a bill was passed and signed into law stating that provided “for the completion of the Madison and Indianapolis rail-road to Pendleton, Huntsville and Andersontown.” (Source: Indiana State Sentinel, 05 February 1846, pp 4, courtesy of newspapers.com)

Yes. You read that right. The M&I was to be completed to Anderson, via Pendleton. Now, my astute readers will suddenly put two and two together, realizing that the line in question was built, in 1850. However, it should be noted that it wasn’t the M&I that had anything to do with the completion of that route. Nor did they own any part of it. It was built as part of the railroad connecting Indianapolis to Bellefontaine, Ohio. It is still commonly referred to as the “Bee Line,” even though it wasn’t even called the Bellefontaine when it was completed.

I can not find any reference to the M&I losing the rights to this line. However, since it ended up going the way of the TH&I as far as the M&I management is concerned, it did not bode well for the latter company. The “Bee Line” ended up being the mainline from Indianapolis to points east, including Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany and New York City. The TH&I ended up being the major line connecting Indianapolis to St. Louis. In the end, these decisions by the M&I management relegated it to a second-class citizen status. Either or both of these other companies might have saved the M&I from the fate of being a branch line in its own company.

As a side note, the TH&I and M&I would ultimately become one…as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The “Bee Line,” when stock subscriptions were announced in the Indiana Sentinel of 6 May 1848, stated that the new road would be “a direct and almost straight route on the line of this rail-road to St. Louis through Sydney, Winchester, Muncie, Anderson, Pendleton, Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Vandalia, and that it was greatly the shortest route between New York and Philadelphia and St. Louis.” That almost sounds like they were muscling in on the TH&I, doesn’t it? The company that would ultimately own the “Bee Line” would end up also owning a route connecting Indianapolis and St. Louis…as part of the “Big Four,” and the New York Central system.

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