Fort Wayne Electric Traction Options

Here at Indiana Transportation History, we have extensively covered interurban transportation facilities radiating from Indianapolis. Indianapolis was clearly the leader in the electric traction. But other cities in Indiana did have a collection, although smaller, of electric traction lines radiating to other points. Today, I want to focus on Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second largest community.

List of electric traction companies serving Fort
Wayne, Indiana, from the 1910 Polk’s City Directory.

As one can see from the list to the left, from the 1910 Fort Wayne City Directory, there were five companies serving the city.

The first company on the list, Fort Wayne & South Bend Traction (FW&SB) was granted a charter to access the city in March 1906. This access was allowed along the traction route of the third on the list. This brought the FW&SB into the city along “Leesburg Road, past Brookside and Lindenwood cemeteries and connecting with the West Main street tracks of the city traction company.” (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 27 March 1906) The company was granted that franchise for a period of 35 years. Another stipulation in that franchise was that it would carry no freight into Fort Wayne. “A spur will be built at the Nickel Plate crossing and freight can be delivered to that road.” Work on the route hit full stride in 1907. It started by connecting Syracuse to Nappanee. From there, Fort Wayne would be connected to Syracuse. The road would then leave Nappanee for Elkhart, and hence to South Bend.

The Fort Wayne, Van Wert & Lima (FWVWL) had its articles of incorporation put together on 1 August 1902 (Fort Wayne News, 1 August 1902). Capital stock in the amount of $2 million were to be issued for the construction of the line. The new company would take over an already issued charter, one for a line from New Haven to Fort Wayne, to continue its way paralleling the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (Pennsylvania) to Lima. The company started condemnation proceedings (Fort Wayne Daily News, 9 December 1902) of a strip of ground 49.5 feet wide for the right of way for the route. This strip was to be taken from the Olds’ Addition to the city of Fort Wayne. That addition had just been created.

The Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley, also mentioned above, was created to connect Fort Wayne to Logansport. It started life as the Fort Wayne & Southwestern Traction company. That company was granted access to Fort Wayne in November 1900. Those access rights were passed to the Wabash Valley Line in May 1905. At the time of the transfer, the franchise required the removing of the old Southwestern tracks starting at Main Street on Fulton Street, then along Brackenridge Street, then Fairfield Avenue to Creighton Avenue. Also, tracks in Taylor Street, from Broadway to Fairfield, were to removed.

The listed Muncie, Hartford City & Fort Wayne started in 1901. The line connecting the three title cities was incorporated into the Union Traction Company, which owned and operated the line from Indianapolis to Muncie via Fort Benjamin Harrison and Anderson, starting in May 1903. This allowed direct connection between the two largest cities in the state. George F. McCullogh of the MHC&FW announced the sale of the line to Union Traction. He then left the company immediately, becoming President of a new traction line leaving Fort Wayne.

That new company was to be called the Fort Wayne & Southern. That line’s name wouldn’t stay that way for long, being changed, by the time of franchise issue, to the Fort Wayne, Bluffton & Marion. The Muncie line, mentioned above, had already connected to Bluffton. The Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley then organized the Fort Wayne, Bluffton & Marion as a counter to the Muncie line/Union Traction. The two companies surveyed an almost identical route between Bluffton and Fort Wayne. The conflict between the two companies came to an end when the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley ended up owning both lines. (Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, 30 August 1905)

In the end, all of these lines would be abandoned through the 1930’s, going the way of most of the other traction lines in the state. Most fell under the sway of the Indiana Railroad (1930). The last train left Indianapolis, for Fort Wayne, on 19 January 1941, along the Muncie line. Service would be replaced by bus.

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