Indiana Interurban History – A Complete Recap

Here at Indiana Transportation History, I have covered a lot of topics. One that comes up a lot, even if I don’t write about it, is the electric traction, or interurban, railways. I have decided today to give a complete recap of every blog entry that I have done about that very interesting subject. Sometimes, it seems that I have spent as much time covering the interurbans as they actually existed in Indiana. I know that is not anywhere near true…but it seems like it. I hope you find something here that interests you, as well.

I have decided to start from the beginning of the blog. The first ITH entry was done back on 9 February, 2019. But it wasn’t until almost three months later that I posted my first entry about the electric traction lines.

7 May 2019: The First and Last Interurban Out of Indianapolis: One of the most covered topics here is the “Greenwood Line,” or what was, in the end, known as the Interstate Public Service Company. This is the one that, although I am too young to have ever actually seen an interurban car in Indianapolis, I have the most experience with. I grew up on the southside of Indianapolis. I went to Southport High School. And the “Stop” roads on the southside are a direct descendent of that very line. Part of that company still exists today, as part of Duke Energy.

3 July 2019: Indianapolis and the Interurban: Indianapolis became the interurban capital of the United States, even though Indiana was second in the number of miles of traction lines to Ohio.

30 August 2019: Interurbans in Marion County, Where Were They?: Grabbing a map of Marion County from 1917, the lines of the interurbans, along with the locations and/or names of the stops were included. I shared the maps and stories of each of those lines.

2 September 2019: End of the (Traction) Line in Greenfield: During the Great Depression, the already teetering interurban lines started failing one after another. One of the most important lines, as far as distance covered, was the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern line that connected Indianapolis to Richmond. It connected at Richmond to a line that went further, and connected to numerous lines at Dayton, Ohio. It was also one of the first to be removed. And Greenfield became one of the first abandoned towns.

4 September 2019: Indianapolis-New Castle Traction: The line that would continue the connection to Richmond would be the traction line that ran along side the old Peoria & Eastern (Big Four) Railroad tracks that left Indianapolis to the east-northeast. Its entry into Indianapolis would be a little controversial. This line would last until July 1940.

18 September 2019: Marion County Interurbans, and Their Remaining Property Lines: One day, while looking at several aerial photos, and property lines, on the MapIndy site, I started noticing that some of the property lines really didn’t fit in with the rest of the county. Upon further investigation, I was finally able to match the old interurban maps with those property lines. This blog entry shows the results of that investigation.

8 October 2019: Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad: Not all of the interurbans in Indiana are dead. Or, at least, the railroads that were created during that era. The CSS&SB was an interurban line when it started. It has become a “steam” railroad along the line. (“Steam” railroad is the title that is given to the heavy railroads…traction lines were considered light railroads.) Even though the CSS&SB was also part of the same company that would ultimately own every interurban line out of Indianapolis, its location kept it going. And it still is today.

22 October 2019: Interstate Public Service: Again, I “ran home to mama” when it came to the electric traction lines. I covered more history in this entry than I did in the first one.

30 October 2019: Street Car and Electric Traction Franchises: Street railways and electric traction lines weren’t created in a vacuum. Especially in cities. When entering cities and towns, all types of railroads, whether it was steam, traction or street cars, had to apply for the right to enter that town. And it was laid out specifically where the lines would be placed.

11 November 2019: Martinsville Traction: A brief history of the line that connected Indianapolis to Martinsville.

18 November 2019: Danville Traction: A brief history of the line that connected Indianapolis to Danville.

16 December 2019: Lebanon Traction: A brief history of the line that connected Indianapolis to Lebanon and beyond.

23 December 2019: 1904: Interurbans Before the Traction Terminal: Before the Indianapolis Traction Terminal was built, the interurbans all stopped at different places in the downtown area of the Hoosier capital.

27 December 2019: Fort Wayne Electric Traction Options: There were five traction lines that were built radiating from Fort Wayne. This entry covers those.

7 and 8 January 2020: Interurbans, Part 1 and Interurbans, Part 2: These two articles covered the interurbans from a Terre Haute point of view. It is important to remember that most of the traction lines radiating from Indianapolis were owned by the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern company.

23 April 2020: Beech Grove Traction: A town that was built by a stream railroad company would also become an important interurban destination.

5 June 2020: 1975: Interurban in Tipton County, 40 Years Later: There are still remnants of the interurban all over the state. This article covers the Tipton County interurban items that were covered in the Kokomo Tribune of 27 April 1975.

13 July 2020: Interurban Freight Service: Interurbans started as a passenger service. But the companies learned that the speed and scheduling of the interurbans could make package service a profitable proposition. This would put the traction lines in direct competition with the steam lines. A battle that would continue until the traction lines died.

24 August 2020: Bus Service At the End of the Interurban Era: As the interurban lines started being phased out, they were replaced by bus services. The passenger service was important, although it was still a money losing proposition.

15 September 2020: Winona Interurban: A brief history of the Winona & Warsaw interurban line.

9 November 2020: Perry Township Additions, And the Greenwood Line Stops: Again, I revisited the Greenwood line…with a focus on the additions that happened along that line north of Southport.

12 November 2020: Richmond, 1907: Interurban Accident with City Street Car: Accidents happen. And a lost of them stem from multiple trains using the same track. In towns, interurbans used the street car tracks to get to the downtown area. Interurbans, legally, only connected the towns on their own tracks.

Forgot one……

Since I am mobile, it’s hard to add it. Will fix it in the morning when I get home from work.


2 thoughts on “Indiana Interurban History – A Complete Recap

  1. Excellent work – as an amateur traction historian I love that this blog gets this information out there. Keep up the great work!


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