Interurban transportation system

Wabash Valley profiles : a series of tributes to hometown people and events that have shaped our history

Description: One typed page including photograph; a brief history of the Interurban, an electric railraod serving the Wabash Valley. Individuals mentioned include William Riley McKeen, Demas Deming, John G. McNutt, John E. Lamb, John Beasley, William P. Ijams, Hugh J. McGowan, W. Kelsey Schoepf, Randal Morgan, Daniel Burnham, Samuel Insull.
ABASH VALLEY WP R O F I L E SA series of tributes to hometown people and events that have shaped our history.The Interurban Transportation Systemor the first four decades of the 20th century, electric railroads -- urban and interurban -- provided the Wabash Valley with rapid and inexpensive transportation. Terre Haute first secured urban electric trolley service in January 1892. The Brazil Rapid Transit Co. opened an electric track from Cottage Hill Cemetery on present Indiana 340 west of Brazil to Harmony on July 16, 1893, declaring it to be "Indiana's first interurban." Terre Haute Electric Co. -- founded by William Riley McKeen, Demas Deming, John G. McNutt, John E. Lamb and John Beasley -- incorporated on June 23, 1899, to acquire the assets of the Terre Haute Street Railway Co., an enterprise which had provided urban transportation, by mule and electricity, since 1866. Electric interurban service between Terre Haute and Brazil became available on Sept. 2, 1900. Boston-based Stone & Webster Co. -- using Terre Haute Electric Co.'s franchise -- built a line from Terre Haute to West Terre Haute in one day in early December 1902. Reorganized as the Terre Haute Electric Traction Co. in 1903, the firm laid rail to Dana, Ridge Farm and Clinton. After undergoing another name change in 1904, Terre Haute Traction & Light Co. acquired interurban rights between Terre Haute and Sullivan from local capitalist William P. Ijams. Interurban service to Shelburn commenced June 21, 1905. Within a year, service to Sullivan, St. Mary's Village, Sandford and Paris, Ill., were added. On March 1, 1907, Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Co. (THI&E) was organized by Hugh J. McGowan of Indianapolis, W. Kelsey Schoepf of Cincinnati and Randal Morgan of Philadelphia. On March 25, 1907, THI&E acquired all Terre Haute urban and interurban electric trolley interests. In 1911 it built a spacious terminal at 820 Wabash Ave. (now Terminal Sports & Spirits) using Chicago architect Daniel Burnham's design. Until the end of World War I, electric transit flourished. THI&E rails covered 454.7 miles during the era. Interurban cars were named after local schools and local people. Each stop adopted a name and number. However, as more roads were paved, automobiles eroded the interurban's popularity. Attempts at merger failed and soon after the stock market crashed, THI&E was propelled into receivership. Chicago tycoon Samuel Insull came to the rescue. Insull's Midwest United Corp. purchased THI&E's assets at a foreclosure sale on June 23, 1930, for $2.5 million. The company was made a part of Insull's "Indiana Railroad system," the nation's largest interurban with 956 track miles. Unprofitable lines and services were abandoned but money woes endured. A six-week strike in 1937 brought Indiana Railroad to its knees. Midland United was forced to dissolve. Urban electric trolley service in Terre Haute ceased on Oct. 31, 1939. Interurban passenger service in the Terre Haute and surrounding areas terminated on Jan. 11, 1940, ending a memorable era. Indiana Railroad emerged from receivership in June 1941, persevering for awhile as a bus company and maintaining a freight line between the Milwaukee Railroad in Terre Haute and the Binkley mine in Clay County.FTERRE HAUTE(812) 238-6000NATIONAL BANKAlways Close to HomeDate published: Jan. 25, 2001Filename: Interurban profile
Origin: 2001-01-24
Created By: McCormick, Mike
Publisher: Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Collection: Vigo County Historical Society
Copyright: Copyright Undetermined
Subjects: Electric railroads
Mass transit
Business & Industry

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