1889 Fort Wayne Rail Transport

One of the things about the way I sit to write these blogs is that nothing is set in stone when I start. Most of the time, I sit at my desk trying to come up with ideas. (We won’t discuss the forehead shaped divot in the front edge of my desk!) And since I tend to write these before I have to get ready to go to work (they publish when I am at lunch…0100…if that is any idea), it sometimes can be a frantic push to write something. And before you ask, this is how I keep to a routine – sleep, blog, work. I tend to stick to routines…and am lost without them.

Anyway. Such is today’s topic. I was looking for a railroad map at the Indiana State Library Digital Collection. Any railroad map would do. That was my goal…a railroad history. And I found the following map: Map of the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana (1889). This was too good to pass up.

Let’s start with the street car lines. At the time, Fort Wayne had street car lines totaling 18 miles, 165 feet. That was distributed across five lines. The list on the map is different from the numbers given by the Fort Wayne Street Railroad Company. Line descriptions that follow come from the Polk Fort Wayne City Directory of 1888-1889.

As you read the descriptions of the street car lines, keep in mind that along the way, street names in Fort Wayne have changed at least once over the past century. As was the case in Indianapolis at the time, street names generally didn’t run for long distances, except those considered the major streets. Streets along the same line could have two or more different names. An example is the first street south of Lewis Street. West of Calhoun, it is Dawson Street. East of Calhoun, it is Montgomery. In Indianapolis, the corrections to this problem started in 1894. I will be researching this in Fort Wayne at a later date.

Route No. 1 – Belt Line. Commencing at Main and Calhoun Streets on Calhoun, then south on Calhoun Street passing the Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago), Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids & Indiana) & Wabash depots and on to Creighton Avenue, then west on Creighton Avenue to Broadway, north on Broadway to Main Street, then east on Main Street to Calhoun, forming a belt line. In 1889, that line consisted of 4.46 miles of trackage. 1.23 miles were shared with other street car lines to be mentioned later, and .77 miles of that was double track and switches.

Route No. 2 – Bloomingdale, Hanna and Walton Avenue line. Commencing at the corner of Wells and Third Streets, to Cass Street, west on Cass, passing the Lake Shore & Muncie (sic) depot ot Wells Street, south on Wells to Superior Street, east on Superior to Calhoun Street, south on Calhoun, passing the Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids & Wabash depots to Hamilton Street, east on Hamilton to Lafayette, north on Lafayette to Wallace Street, east on Wallace to John Street, south on John to Creighton Avenue, east on Creighton Avenue to Walton Avenue or the new yards. This is called the Bloomingdale line on the map. It consists of 5.44 miles of trackage.

Route No. 3 – Main Street line. Commencing at Glasgow Avenue on East Washington Street, the west on Washington to Harmer, south on Harmer to Jefferson Street, west on Jefferson to Lafayette Street, north on Lafayette to Main Street, then west on Main to Linwood Cemetery. According to the state library map, this is called the Lindenwood line, totaling 4.64 miles of trackage.

Route 4 – Commencing at Garden Street, running east on Jefferson to Broadway, connecting with the Belt Line. It consisted of a line of .6 miles total of tracks, double tracks and switches.

The fifth line, not mentioned in the city directory, yet on the map, is the Clinton & Lewis Street line. This 2.89 miles of tracks began at Clinton and Main Streets, south on Clinton to Lewis Street, then east on Lewis Street ending at Walton Avenue.

The steam railroads were a different story. According to the 1889 map, there were seven railroads into Fort Wayne with an eighth being under construction. I did cover the steam railroads of Fort Wayne in 1880. First mentioned was the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, operated by the Pennsylvania Company. Then mentioned are: Wabash; Grand Rapids & Indiana (also operated by the Pennsylvania Company); Fort Wayne, Richmond and Cincinnati (operated by the Grand Rapids & Indiana); New York, Chicago & St. Louis (the Nickel Plate); Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (a New York Central system company); and the Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville (operated by the Lake Erie & Western, which in itself has a very interesting history).

The eighth line, then under construction, was the Findlay, Fort Wayne & Western. Born out of the natural gas boom of the late 19th century, this railroad went was originally called the New York, Mahoning & Western. Construction started in 1887, finally reaching Fort Wayne in 1895. It was built under the direction of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad. That is the same railroad that enters Indianapolis parallel to Brookville Road (US 52). 21 years after completion of the FFtW&W, the Baltimore & Ohio purchased the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton. This led to the end of the Findlay, Fort Wayne & Western. By 1919, the entire line was abandoned by the B&O.

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