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.
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.