Interurbans in Marion County, Where Were They?

In the early 20th century, Indiana, and Indianapolis in particular, was the center of electric traction, or interurban, railroad activity. This was culminated with the building of the largest traction terminal in the United States on Market Street west of Illinois Street. The Traction Terminal acted as a Union Station for interurban trains. But little is known today, without being a serious researcher, about where the traction tracks were and where they went. The source of this information comes from a 1917 map of Marion County available here from the Indiana State Library Digital Collections online.

Along with each map and description, a list of some of the stops is included. It is commonly misunderstood that all stops were numbered. They weren’t. A prime example is on the south side of the city, where it is obvious where the stops were by the names of the roads. Stop 8 Road (now Edgewood Avenue) is 1/2 mile north of Stop 9 (now Banta), which is 1 mile north of Stop 10 Road. Between Stops 9 and 10 was Southport, which had no number.

The most extensive traction company in the central part of Indiana was the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company (THI&E). This company owned trackage that ran from Indianapolis (and Terre Haute) to multiple destinations. The THI&E would ultimately end up owning, in Marion County, the Traction Terminal and the Indianapolis Street Railways, or the city trolley system that ended up, much later, a bus system taken over by Metro, now IndyGo.

THI&E: DANVILLE LINE

The Danville Line used Indianapolis street car lines to a point near what was Central State Hospital. From there, it basically went “cross country” to a point where it connected to the old Rockville State Road (Rockville Road today), close to the survey line that the old state road follows. Keep in mind that the old road connected to the National Road, Washington Street, at what is now the intersection of Holt Road and Washington Street. What is now Rockville Avenue is the original Rockville Road. Stops included Lynnhurst, Statefarm, Stop 4 at High School Road, Stop 6 at Girls School Road, Stop 8 at Country Club Road, and Stop 9 at the Hendricks-Marion County Line.

1937 Aerial photograph of the THI&E Danville Line from Fleming Street to Washington Street. The straight line running across the photo is the location of the trackage. Photo courtesy of the City of Indianapolis-Marion County website MapIndy application.

THI&E: INDIANAPOLIS, CRAWFORDSVILLE & WESTERN LINE

This traction line followed the West Michigan Street railway line until it met the Big Four/Peoria & Eastern Railway line. The traction company then ran along the northern edge of the right-of-way of that steam railroad. West of what is now Speedway, it would be placed between the P&E and the old Crawfordsville Road (which, in 1917, was also part of the Dixie Highway). Stops included Stop 4 known as Olinville, Stop 5 across the Crawfordsville Road (now 16th Street) from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stop 9 (Rancks) at High School Road, Stop 11 at Girls School Road, and Stop 13 at Country Club Road.

THI&E: LEBANON LINE

This traction line left the city at 38th Street along the Michigan Road, also known as Augusta Road. It ran along the western edge of that road. Stops included Mount Pleasant at Grandview Avenue, Stop 5 near 62nd Street, Stop 6 at Westlane Road, Stop 7 at 79th Street, Stop 8 at 86th Street, and County Line at 96th Street.

INDIANA UNION TRACTION COMPANY:
LOGANSPORT LINE

The Indiana Union Traction Company’s line ran north out of Indianapolis, turning north-northeast through Carmel, then turning to eventually reach Logansport.

The line used street car stops along Massachusetts and College Avenues to 63rd Street in Broad Ripple, which at the time was the northern end of the City of Indianapolis.

Stops on the interurban part of the line included Lilley’s at 71st Street, Williams Creek at 75th Street, Nora at 86th Street, Whitsels at 91st Street and County Line at 96th Street.

INDIANA UNION TRACTION COMPANY: ANDERSON LINE

The IU Traction company also owned the interurban line connecting Indianapolis to Anderson and points northeast of there. This line would serve Fort Benjamin Harrison. It ran along the northern edge of the right-of-way of the Big Four’s Cleveland main, or “Bee Line.” It would follow 38th Street until it met the Bee Line. Stops included Thompsons at Emerson Avenue, Shadeland at the mid point between Shadeland Avenue and 46th Street (roughly 42nd Street), Days near 56th Street, Siding at Fort Harrison (the station at this point still exists as a Mexican restaurant), Oaklandon, and Riley which was less than 1/2 mile from the Hancock-Marion County Line.

INDIANAPOLIS, NEW CASTLE & TOLEDO ELECTRIC RAILWAY

The INC&T line ran along the Big Four’s Springfield Division tracks towards its named cities. Stops included Stop 4 at Arlington Avenue, Stop 5 at Shadeland Avenue, Stop 6 at Franklin Road, Stop 7 at 30th Street, Hunters Station at Post Road, and Stop 10 also known as County Line.

THI&E: RICHMOND LINE

This line connected Indianapolis to Richmond along the National Road (Washington Street). In cooperation with a company in Ohio, service from Indianapolis could reach Dayton and Columbus (Ohio). It was the failure of the Dayton connection that cost most of this road’s traffic counts. Because the National Road from Irvington east had been built up from the early years of the state, the six mile stretch from Irvington to the Hancock-Marion County line contains more stops than any other traction line in the county. Cumberland, for instance, is basically Stop 18. Other stops included Stop 2 at Edmondson Avenue (Warren Park), Stop 6 at Franklin Road, Stop 9 at Post Road, Stop 13 at Mitthoeffer Road, and Stop 15 (called German Church) at German Church Road.

INDIANAPOLIS & CINCINNATI: CONNERSVILLE LINE

The Indianapolis & Cincinnati owned two lines out of Indianapolis, both sharing the same right-of-way along Prospect Street to Stop 1 at Sherman Drive. The Connerville line continued along the line of Prospect Street through the southern edge of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Hawthorne Yards, following the eastern line out of those yards to the northern right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that parallels Brookville Road. Stops, other than Stop 1 listed above, included Stop 2 at Emerson Avenue, Stop 3 at Arlington Avenue, Hawthorne at Fisher Road, Fenton at Franklin Road, Stop 5 at Post Road, Stop 6 at Bade Road, Stop 7 at German Church Road, and Julietta near the Hancock-Marion County Line.

INDIANAPOLIS & CINCINNATI: CINCINNATI LINE

The other I&C line split from the Connersville line at Michigan Road. It then followed the Michigan Road to Hickory Road. Traveling south on Hickory Road, the traction line turned to follow the northern right-of-way of the Big Four Cincinnati Division. Stops included Stop 3 at Minnesota Street, Stop 4 at Raymond Street, Five Points, Stop 10 at Franklin Road (then known as Wanamaker), New Bethel (now known as Wanamaker), Stop 12 at Thompson Road, Hittle at Edgewood Avenue, Stop 15 at Southport Road, Acton Park, Acton, and Stop 16 at the Marion-Shelby County Line.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY: GREENWOOD LINE

The first interurban line to branch from Indianapolis was the Greenwood line. Following Shelby Street from the city limits at Troy Avenue, south to Madison Avenue. It then paralleled Madison Avenue to the Johnson-Marion County Line. This line has two other interesting points: 1) when the Federal government ordered the separation of the power plants supplying the traction lines and the traction lines, the owners kept the electric company. It became Public Service Indiana, which is now part of Duke Energy. 2) In addition to the first interurban to Indianapolis, it was also the last. That story can be read here. Stops along this route were located, at least from Stop 8 south, generally at roads of the same name. This is true today with Stops 10, 11, and 12. Other stops included Stop 1 at Perry, Stop 4 at University Heights, Stop 5 at Longacre, Stop 6 at Thompson, and Stop 7 at the town of Edgewood which is now Epler Avenue. The current Stop 13 Road is actually located 1/4 mile north of the actual Stop 13, which was at the Johnson-Marion County Line.

Across the county line, as an aside, at Stop 14 (Frye Road) was a very large picnic ground and recreation park. It was called Greenwood Park. It is still called that, but it includes the word “Mall” in its designation.

THI&E: MARTINSVILLE LINE

The Martinsville line shared the right-of-way with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad. Stops included Maywood (at Tibbs Avenue), Stop 3 at Mann Road, Stop 4 at Lynhurst Drive, Stop 5 at Hanna Avenue, Stop 7 at High School Road, Valley Mills (originally called Northport – because it was north of Southport!), Stop 9 at Mendenhall Road, and Camby.

THI&E: TERRE HAUTE LINE

The original line of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern. The line followed Oliver Avenue until it reached the Pennsylvania Railroad’s St. Louis mainline, which started life as the Terre Haute & Richmond. Stops included Stop 1 at Warman Avenue, Stop 3 at Morris Street, Indianapolis Heights at Lynhurst Drive, Gun Club at Minnesota Street, Ben Davis, Stop 7 at Girls School Road, Stop 8 at Hoffman Road, Bridgeport, and Stop 10 at the Hendricks-Marion County Line.

Thus covers the entire interurban network radiating from Indianapolis.

4 thoughts on “Interurbans in Marion County, Where Were They?

  1. Richard, could you please check and see if the Indiana State Library has a map like the one you mention above, but for Hamilton County? Thanks!

    John Graves

    Like

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