To the friends and supporters of the Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company,
It’s hard to believe that already one year has gone by since the founding of our organization. As a quick introduction, my name is Austin Mace and I am the current president of the Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company (HHTC). I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight what we’ve accomplished in the past 365 days, where we’re going next and how we got here in the first place.
Our organization exists to tell a very important and often underrepresented story of Indiana’s electric railroad heritage. We are doing so through the restoration and eventual operation and interpretation of some very rare and historic railroad equipment that is significant to the state of Indiana. These artifacts are essential representations of our state’s transit history and show how the citizens of Indiana traveled across Indiana to develop the state as we know it today.
Our Mission: Hoosier Heartland Trolley Co. exists to spark imagination in people of all ages by bringing all walks of life together to experience the art, science, culture, technology and economic empowerment of Indiana’s world-renowned electric railway industry from the 20th century.
Once boasting one of the busiest and most robust electric railroad networks in the world, what’s left of this era in Indiana has been reduced to only a handful of artifacts, many of which have been scattered across the country, destroyed or lost to history. In order to ensure a future for what remains in the state, immediate action was required last year in order to ensure that these artifacts be preserved.
Looking back, it’s amazing to see all of what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
Some highlights from the past year include:
HHTC acquired four pieces of Indiana history from the Indiana Transportation Museum:
The museum had decided to refocus its efforts to the steam and diesel era of Indiana’s railroad past, and graciously deaccessioned its key electric railroad artifacts to organizations like ours.
October 2018- Removal of assets from Forest Park in Noblesville
In close collaboration with the City of Noblesville, Schlatter Boys Transport and Paddocks Transport, we were able to safely remove Indiana Union Traction No. 429 “Noblesville” and No. 437 “Marion”, Indianapolis Railways No. 153, and Terre Haute, Indianapolis, & Eastern No. 81. The removal was a carefully orchestrated effort among all parties over several weekends, eventually leading to all artifacts being housed indoors for the first time in nearly 80 years. This significant accomplishment safeguards the collection from future deterioration due to the elements, and has allowed us to stabilize each piece for eventual restoration.
October 2018- Indiana Landmarks Grant for Indianapolis Railways 153
On October 27th, 2018 we received our first grant from Indiana Landmarks for the relocation and stabilization of the last-remaining Indianapolis streetcar. This grant allowed us to build a frame underneath the car in order to make it transportable and move the car to indoor storage. The car had remained outdoors as a tire shed in Bedford, Indiana, followed by 40 years outside at the Indiana Transportation Museum’s Noblesville site.
April 2019- “Electrify 429” Campaign Launch
On April 29th, we launched our Electrify 429 Capital Campaign for the restoration of Indiana Union Traction No. 429 “Noblesville”, an interurban approaching 100 years old. This campaign calls for a mix of funding resources comprised of crowdsourcing, grants and corporate contributions. After collaborating with both internal and external experts on an assessment of the car, we expect this project to take five years to complete and cost an estimated $450,000. Our organization aims to have the car completed by its 100th birthday in 2025. More can be learned here.
May 2019- Nonprofit HHTC Receives IRS 501(c)(3) Public Charity Status
After mountains of paperwork and many months of waiting, the Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company received official IRS 501(c)(3) public charity status. Receiving this designation now makes our organization eligible for a number of historic preservation grants and has already proved essential to our fundraising efforts for the Electrify 429 campaign. The organization is already in progress to use this status for grant applications and other funding sources.
On behalf of the organization’s board, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all that have contributed along the way and shared in saving a very unique part of Indiana’s history. None of this would have been possible without the generous contributions made by so many individuals, organizations and communities along the way, and we are blown away by the generosity shown.
We are encouraged to see that others also believe our mission is an important one and are just as excited as us to see Indiana’s electric history come alive again here in the Hoosier state. If you have considered contributing or would like to make a contribution now, you can do so here. Per our Facebook announcement, the board of directors will be matching donations dollar for dollar up to $500 for our first anniversary.
Ahead of us lies is an ambitious goal, and we are confident with the momentum generated thus far that it is an achievable one. In the coming months, expect to hear more about our progress with the restoration of No. 429 “Noblesville.” We are also well on our way in the long-term planning for the organization and its permanent home. We will have more to share about that part of the process in the near future.
Our Vision: Hoosier Heartland Trolley Co. is developing a world-class organization to preserve the legacy of Indiana’s electric railways and the people who made it possible. This will be an immersive experience that is educational, entertaining and authentic as a true mode of transportation.
While the process of historic restorations and building a community asset can be a long one, it will be well worth the wait. Like anything in life, doing things right takes time. Thank you again for your support, and we look forward to sharing with you what the future holds in year two of HHTC as we make progress towards the restoration of No. 429 “Noblesville” and take the organization to new heights.
Austin Mace, President
Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company