Railroads in Fort Wayne, 1880

While Indianapolis was Indiana’s largest city, and had the most railroads connecting it to the rest of the country, Indiana’s second largest city was connected by railroads relatively early. Like Indianapolis, Fort Wayne wasn’t controlled by one railroad company. While the largest railroad company in Fort Wayne was the Pennsylvania, it found itself also on routes that would become part of the New York Central System, the Nickle Plate and the Wabash Railway.

Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw: In 1880, the station was listed in the Polk’s City Directory at the corner of First Street and the railroad. The company, under that name, was created in April 1869 from the consolidation of the Jackson, Fort Wayne & Cincinnati and the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad companies. It wouldn’t be long after the publication of the City Directory of 1880 that the company would change its name again, to Fort Wayne & Jackson. Beginning on 1 September 1882, the railroad found itself being leased by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, part of the New York Central System in Indiana before the inclusion of the Big Four. From 1 September 1882 to 31 December 1912, the Fort Wayne & Jackson did not keep its own records, with all financial reports being part of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

Fort Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati: This company would start as the Fort Wayne & Southern, chartered in Indiana on 15 January 1849. It was sold at foreclosure twice…the first time was set aside by the courts on 20 May 1867. On 7 November 1868, it was sold again and name changed to For Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati Railway. After a consolidation on 4 January 1871 with the New Castle & Muncie and the Connersville & New Castle Junction, the Railway part of the name was changed to Railroad. The name would change again in December 1881 to Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville. Again, another consolidation would occur, this time on 11 November 1886, with the New Castle & Rushville Rail Road. Although it was sold to the Lake Erie & Western on 28 May 1890, it would remain separate until the merger, in 1923, into the Nickle Plate. The station was, according to the 1880 City Directory, between Cass and the railroad on First Street.

Grand Rapids & Indiana: In 1880, the Grand Rapids & Indiana shared office and stations with the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago. This makes sense, as the major investor, and owner of the majority of capital stock, was the Pennsylvania Company, operators of the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh & Erie. There were five different companies with the name Grand Rapids & Indiana, each a direct descendant of the one before. The first four were “Railroad,” with the fifth being “Railway.” The first was chartered in Indiana on 26 January 1854. This was consolidated into the second on 1 September 1855. On 30 July 1857, it became the third iteration of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad. A consolidation on 1 October 1884 created the fourth GR&I. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway was created after the last GR&I was sold at foreclosure on 10 June 1896.

Cincinnati, Richmond & Fort Wayne: Another company that would fall under the control of the Pennsylvania Company. In this case, the Pennsylvania owned the majority of the capital stock, but it was actually leased and operated, since 25 December 1871, by the Grand Rapids & Indiana. It had been completed around the same time as the lease agreement was made.

Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago: I covered this railroad in detail in June 2019. According to the Polk’s City Directory, the offices for this and the two previous companies was on Clinton between Holman and the railroad. The freight depot was also on Clinton, at the railroad.

Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific: In 1880, the passenger and freight stations on Calhoun and the Master Mechanic’s office on Fairfield. The Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific was created on 10 November 1879 with the consolidation of several railway companies, including the Toledo, Wabash & Western, which itself was a consolidation of several companies. This railroad is going to require an entire article all of its own. It would become known as the Wabash Railroad Company on 1 August 1889, with a mass consolidation. That, however, would only last until 21 July 1915, when it was sold at foreclosure to become the Wabash Railway Company.

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