Leslie Haines was born in 1883 in rural Hamilton County, Ind. at Carmel, which numbered less than 400 residents at the time. Following his dream, Haines enlisted in 1906 and circumnavigated the globe in Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, training under Dr. Lee DeForest, a leader in the development of wireless technology. Meanwhile, the Union Traction Company of Indiana had set up shop in Carmel, allowing Carmel residents and storeowners to tap into a valuable new asset: electricity.
At this point-in-time, our team rolled up our sleeves and entered the scene in crisis mode as part of a serious effort to acquire as many of the remaining electric railway cars as possible. Although beaten and battered, these cars were the last glimpses into an industry that built Indiana into what it is today - a cultural phenomenon that employed thousands, moved millions, and opened Indiana up to economic possibilities never before seen nor contemplated.
The Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company was awarded a $3,500 grant to relocate and stabilize the last-remaining Indianapolis streetcar, Indianapolis Railways No. 153, on Saturday, October 27, 2018. This rare grant request fostered a unique collaboration between the Marion County Historic Preservation Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation and Indiana Landmarks.
-Long days, late nights, conference calls, precision logistics, all while balancing full-time careers, family obligations, etc. This is what occurs day-in and day-out within preservation groups across the country. For our new nonprofit organization near Indianapolis, it has been no exception relocating Indiana’s last surviving trolleys.
The level of service delivered by the interurban companies opened up business and educational opportunities to Indiana’s rural citizens during the early 1900s. Rufus Thomas was one of those Hoosiers - sparking a future of opportunity through the interurban system that had never been an option for him.
In 1935, Indiana Railroad, which was the dominating interurban (high-speed electric train car between cities) route resulting from the acquisition of nearly every interurban line in Central Indiana, was looking for ways to cut costs and standardize equipment. Competition from automobiles and busses were injuring the interurban line’s finances, as the personalization and ease of these modes of transportation had great appeal.
A group of historic preservationists is pleased to announce the formation of the Hoosier Heartland Trolley Co. The group is a forming nonprofit preservation organization dedicated to the interpretation, preservation, and operation of historic railroad artifacts significant to Indiana’s rich, yet mostly forgotten electric railway history.