The “Clover Leaf” Route

The Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad, commonly called the Clover Leaf, was a collection of smaller lines across Indiana. The last version of the company came into being in 1900, having been through several reorganizations to that point. The Clover Leaf’s existence would end on 28 Decemeber 1922, when it would become part of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, better known as the Nickel Plate.

The earliest section of what would become the Clover Leaf in Indiana (actually of the entire road) would be built in 1873 and 1874 as the Frankfort & Kokomo Railroad. When it was built, the railroad was set at standard gauge, or 4′ 8 1/2″ track width. In 1881, it was changed to a narrow gauge of 3 feet. At this time, it also became part of the Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad.

Indianapolis News, 26 December 1936. First locomotive owned by the Frankfort & Kokomo.

The Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis, a narrow gauge railway that was chartered to connect those title cities. It was formed in 1881 as a consolidation of many smaller lines, among them the Frankfort & Kokomo. This company would make all of its track narrow gauge. The TC&StL would take into its corporate structure the other three railroads that would make the Indiana section of the Clover Leaf.

The first, built in 1879, was the Delphos, Bluffton & Frankfort, which connected Willshire, Ohio, to Warren, Indiana. It was joined by the Frankfort, St. Louis & Toledo, which continued the line from Warren to Kokomo, and connected to the Frankfort & Kokomo. The FStL&T was completed in 1880. A year later, the Frankfort & State Line Railroad extended the consolidation of lines across the entire state.

But the Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis would only last around five years. In 1886, it broke up into several companies before being reorganized into one company again. The Indiana section would become the Bluffton, Kokomo and Southwestern Railroad. This company was created with papers filed with the Indiana Secretary of State in April 1886.

The three companies created from the implosion of the TC&StL were consolidated again as the Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City Railroad on 12 June 1886. It was at this time that the decision was made to make the entire railroad a standard gauge line. This work was completed before June 1889. Sylvester H. Kneeland was given the contract for the work. His contract called for Kneeland to receive $2.5 million in the new company’s stock, and $2 million in company bonds. More stocks and bonds in the company would be given to Kneeland as his expenses went up. The exact total was unknown.

The Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City found itself in receivership on 18 May 1893. While still in receivership, the company was sold at foreclosure on 27 March 1900, for $12.2 million to the stock and bond holders. The company was then reorganized at the Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad on 12 June 1900. The receivership ended on 1 August 1900, with the new Clover Leaf in full swing.

On 29 December 1922, it was announced that a major merger was approved by the boards of directors of five separate companies. The five companies were: New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate); Chicago & State Line; Lake Erie & Western; Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville; and Toledo, St. Louis & Western (Clover Leaf). The authorized capitalization of the new company, to maintain the New York, Chicago & St. Louis name, was $105.5 million. The total trackage of the new company would by 1,695 miles.

Meetings with the share holders would be held in March 1923. Meetings were scheduled as follows: Nickel Plate in Cleveland, 12 March; Chicago & State Line at Chicago, 13 March; Lake Erie & Western at Peoria, Illinois, 14 March; Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville at Muncie, 15 March; and the Clover Leaf at Frankfort, 16 March.

The Clover Leaf, before the consolidation, had been controlled and operated by the Nickel Plate for some time, even under the receivership. The Clover Leaf, at the time of the consolidation, owned one-half the capital stock of the Detroit & Toledo Shore Line Railway. This gave the bigger Nickel Plate access to Detroit from Toledo.

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