This post is going to include a LOT of legal jargon. But, I think it is important to show how the legal definitions of railroad right of ways are documented. It really isn’t “let’s build this this way, damn the consequences.” Well, not entirely.
In May, 2019, I wrote an article about the Milwaukee Road in Indiana. One of the roads that made up what would become part of that western railroad that wandered east was the Southern Indiana Railway. The creation of the railroad will be covered at some point. But while looking at a map of Clay County, there was a proposed Southern Indiana Railroad that went across Clay County that went through Saline City and north of Bowling Green. So I tried looking it up. But all I found was the one connected to what would become the Milwaukee Road.
But the topic of this post is the bankruptcy of the Southern Indiana Railway. It made the newspaper legal notices in September, 1910. And it took a complete page and a half in the Indianapolis Star. Yes, a page and a half. I have included the first page below. Do I expect people to be able to read. Oh, no. But to give you an idea of the complete railroad property bankruptcy, this picture sums it up.
The entire property of the railroad is so detailed in this legal notice that it will take a few blog entries to cover the entire thing.
The Southern Indiana Railway filed for bankruptcy in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Indiana on 27 May 1910. There were several plaintiffs in the complaint. First was the First Trust and Savings Bank, as trustee. The second was the Girard Trust Company under a deed dated 1 February 1901. Another plaintiff was Alfred M. Chapman. The offices of the railroad were located on Hulman Street, between 14th and 14 and 1/2 Streets, in Terre Haute.
The first parcel listed in the sale of the railroad was described as “all and sigular the main track of railway of the Southern Indiana Railway Company existing at the date of the mortgage or deed of trust made by the Southern Indiana Railway Company to the First Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago, dated May 1, 1906.” This trackage was listed as “commencing at the extreme northwesterly limit of said line as then constructed in Vermillion County, Indiana, at or near the line between the States of Illinois and Indiana, at or near Quaker Hill in the State of Illinois, thence in a southeasterly direction to and into and around the city of Terre Haute in Vigo County, Indiana, and thence in a southeasterly direction in and through the counties of Vigo, Sullivan, Clay, Green, Daviess, Martin, Lawrence, Jackson, Bartholomew and Decatur to the town of Westport in the last name county.”
This description would also include “all its branches diverging from said main lines at or near Black Hawk, Coalmont, and Latta in the State of Indiana and extending to or near Sullivan in said State, said branches being otherwise known as the Sullivan Branch (which includes the Hymera Branch), the Shelburn Branch, the Coalmont Branch and the Latta Branch, and also all other railroad tracks, extensions and branches which said The Southern Indiana Railway Company owned on May 1, 1906, or at any time thereafter constructed.”
Also included in this were “all buildings, lands and interests therein, rights of way and property of every kind on May 1, 1906, owned by The Southern Indiana Railway Company or at any time thereafter acquired.” There is one exception, which goes to show the original planned extent of the railroad. It is listed as “except the lands which it then owned in Wayne County, Indiana.” The original plan for the railroad was to reach to Richmond, in Wayne County. The Southern Indiana ended, at the time, at the Big Four Railway south of Greensburg. That is quite a distance from Wayne County.
The main line of the railroad was described in the following legal manner: “Beginning at a point of connection with the railroad of The Chicago Southern Railway on the state line between the states of Illinois and Indiana in the Southwest quarter (S. W. 1/4) of the Section Seven (7), Township Sixteen (16) North, Range Ten (10) West of the Second Principal Meridian.” Legally, most of the state of Indiana is surveyed from the Second Principal Meridian, also called the Paoli Meridian. (The First Principal Meridian forms the line between Ohio and Indiana.)
From there, “and extending thence in a general Southerly direction in and through said county of Vermillion, thence in a general Southerly direction through Vigo County, also from a point in the center line of the right of way of The Southern Indiana Railway Company 33 feet Northeasterly from where said center line crosses the south line of Section 3 (3), Township Eleven (11) North, Range Nine (9) West of the Second Principal Meridian and extending thence in a general Northerly direction to Wabash Avenue in the City of Terre Haute, Indiana, thence in a general Southerly direction through Sullivan County, Clay County, and Greene County; thence in a general Southeasterly direction through Daviess County; thence in a general Easterly direction through Martin County, Lawrence County, and Jackson County and into and through a part of Bartholomew County; thence in a general Northeasterly direction through part of Bartholomew County and a part of Decatur County to a point of connection with the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway.”
To give you an idea of how much information is in the above listed article, I have only covered the first half of the first column in this entry. I will be covering more in entries to come. I know these can be a bit boring, but it is also important to transportation history. Not many railroads in Indiana did not go through a bankruptcy. These types of legal announcements would have been made for each and every one of them, if they were required to publicly announce them. Just looking at one of them sheds a light on all of those things that most people don’t see when it comes to the railroads.