Indianapolis Street Car Saturday: Alabama, Central, Brightwood and Brookside

In 1873, the Alabama line was originally a branch from the Illinois Street line. It would leave Illinois Street at Seventh (16th) Street, running east Alabama Street, then north to Exposition Avenue (19th Street) to the main entrance of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds, at that time, were located at what is now 19th and Alabama. In 1888, the line was moved, starting as a branch from the Massachusetts line, going north on Alabama to Exposition Avenue, where it turned east to New Jersey, turning south to go to the barn. The line would be electrified in 1891. The last railed trolley car would run on 22 May 1937, and the line would be abandoned completely 17 February 1941.

The Central line would be put in place starting in 1888, when the line was completed to carry trolley cars from Christian Avenue (11th Street) to a turntable at 10th (20th) Street. It was rerouted the following year, staying on Alabama Street to Home Avenue (13th Street), then crossing over to Central. Electricity was added to the line in 1892, but it ceased running up Central at that time…at least most of the way. The line would be routed along College Avenue to 16th (24th) Street, turn west to Central, then north to 26th (34th) Street. Another round of electrification would see the line rerouted again, this time crossing over from College at 10th (20th) Street, then north to end at 16th (24th) Street. The last car to run on the rails on this line would do so on 20 March 1937.

With operation starting in 1889, the Brightwood line would take riders to the Big Four Repair Shops in Brightwood. The line would technically start at Home Avenue (13th Street) and Columbia Avenue, where Hill Avenue (now Roosevelt Avenue) began. It would follow what is now Roosevelt Avenue to Gale Street, north to Brickman (25th) Street, east to Brightwood Avenue (Sherman Drive), then north to what is now 26th Street. Five years later, in 1894, the line was electrified. The line was extended to 30th Street in 1911. On 19 September 1934, the last tracked trolley would run on the line.

A late comer to the Indianapolis Street Car system was the Brookside Line. Now, this line actually got its start in 1904, around the same time that the Union Traction Company built its line to Anderson and points beyond. The Brookside line was built to allow the UTC to complete its trip into Indianapolis. The line ran out Brookside Avenue (parallel to Massachusetts)from 10th Street to a “Y” at 18th Street. In 1920, the city street car company bought the trackage from the Union Traction Company to get to a turntable at Olney Street. The tracks for this line would be used by trolleys until 6 June 1934.

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