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.
With the interurban system dissolving in 1941 and streetcar systems converting to buses in the 1950s, many alive today do not remember nor even know the state had one of the world’s greatest transportation networks. In the 1920s, the electric railway system peaked with more than 15,000 operating trolleys and more than 2 million passengers in a year. Cars would depart the traction terminal in Indianapolis (trolley station) nearly every minute for destinations across the state, once passing the steps of the Indiana Statehouse. With the conclusion of the Golden Age of railroading in America, began the railway preservation movement.
Before the traditional steam railroads came along, there were two options for transportation: horse or by foot. The advent of railroads made travel between towns convenient for the first time in Indiana’s history. This level of convenience was increased even further by the services of the interurban railroads. The interurbans wouldn’t only stop in town but could pick up additional passengers at almost any crossing.
-This level of convenience, however, came at a cost to the interurbans.
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.