Carrying the Torch Forward – Preserving Our Electric Railway Heritage

Carrying the Torch Forward – Preserving Our Electric Railway Heritage

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.

Bracing for the future – creation of the Indiana Railroad

Bracing for the future – creation of the Indiana Railroad

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.

Desiring a Better Life - Sparking Opportunity

Desiring a Better Life - Sparking Opportunity

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.

How Indianapolis Streetcars Sparked The War Effort

How Indianapolis Streetcars Sparked The War Effort

The war effort - a time requiring the country to band together. The Indianapolis Railways streetcar system was a culture and art-filled part of that effort  - encouraging Indianapolis citizens to support in various ways from buying war bonds to donating blood to the American Red Cross.