Indianapolis Union and Belt Railroads
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In an era dominated by huge railroad corporations, Indianapolis Union and Belt Railroads reveals the important role two small railroad companies had on development and progress in the Hoosier State. After Indianapolis was founded in 1821, early settlers struggled to move people and goods to and from the city, with no water transport nearby and inadequate road systems around the state. But in 1847, the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad connected the new capital city to the Ohio River and kicked off a railroad and transportation boom. Over the next seven decades, the Indiana railroad map expanded in all directions, and Indianapolis became a rail transport hub, dubbing itself the "Railroad City." Though the Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroads traditionally dominated the Midwest and Northeast and operated the majority of rail routes radiating from Indianapolis, these companies could not have succeeded without the two small railroads that connected them.

In the downtown area, the Indianapolis Union Railway was less than 2 miles long, and out at the edge of town the Belt Railroad was only a little over 14 miles. Though small in size, the Union and the Belt had an outsized impact, both on the city's rail network and on the city itself. It played an important role both in maximizing the efficiency and value of the city's railroad freight and passenger services and in helping to shape the urban form of Indianapolis in ways that remain visible today.

1. Early Indianapolis: Settling "The West"
2. The Railroad Arrives: A New Travel Technology
3. The Union
4. The Belt: Another New Idea
5. The City and Its Railroads



Publié par
Date de parution 21 août 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253029508
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.



This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2017 by Jeffrey Darbee
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z 39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress
Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Darbee, Jeffrey T., author.
Title: Indianapolis Union and Belt Railroads / Jeffrey Darbee.
Description: Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press, [2017] | Series: Railroads past and present | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017023769 (print) | LCCN 2017004830 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253029508 (eb) | ISBN 9780253025227 (cl : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH : Indianapolis Union Railway Company. | Railroads-Indiana-Indianapolis-History. | Railroad travel-Indiana-Indianapolis-History.
Classification: LCC HE 2791. I 53 (print) | LCC HE 2791.I53 D 37 2017 (ebook) | DDC 385.09772-dc23
LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 22 21 20 19 18 17


From successive generations of Americans the railroad has exacted an almost universal fascination. It is not difficult to understand why this has been so. Prime mover in the civilization of a continent and the building of a nation, and, in its time, the indispensable mover of goods and purveyor of personal transportation, the railroad wove a net of steel rails that bound America together and brought a breath of far and fascinating places to the most commonplace of lives. Touching every life, the railroad could not be ignored.
Even more captivating, perhaps, has been the sheer physical impact of the sound and sight of massive machinery in motion that the railroad brought close to hand in a manner totally unlike any other industry. Shrieking, clanging, roaring, and pounding its way through town and countryside, the railroad embedded itself in the subconsciousness of every American; one could never be indifferent to its presence. 1
WITH THESE WORDS , the late William D. Middleton, rightly considered among the top occupants of the pantheon of railroad historians, opened his sweeping yet very personal pictorial look at the vast drama of American railroading in the two and a half decades that followed the end of World War II. Through his photography Middleton showed railroads north, south, east, and west-all across the nation-doing their jobs in summer and winter, day and night, city and country. More than just pictures of the trains themselves, the images in his book placed each railroad in context by including the bridges, depots, yards, and landscapes that defined it. And, not least, Middleton made a point of including the people who made the trains run, typically with each individual s name, in many of the photographs.
The 144 pages of that book do indeed capture the big picture of American railroading in a very compelling way, and the author s focus on placing the railroad in context is a large part of its appeal. Intriguing as the shrieking, clanging, roaring, and pounding denizens of the rails can be, the broader story of the railroad s unique place in American history is at least as compelling.
Sometimes a part of that story can be told with a very narrow focus. I am one of Middleton s people, those whose life the railroad has touched; I am not indifferent to the railroad, and I cannot ignore it. A lifetime filled only with the study of railroads and their history would be enough for me. At the same time, a long career in historic preservation and urban history has led me to ask questions about the interplay of the railroad and the cities and villages it served, particularly how each helped to shape the other.
I am by no means the first to consider this question; books such as John R. Stilgoe s Metropolitan Corridor , Carl W. Condit s The Railroad and the City , and Joseph P. Schwieterman s When the Railroad Leaves Town have all tackled the subject. Each does so with a different focus-Stilgoe s view was broad; Condit focused on Cincinnati, Ohio; and Schwieterman looked mainly at smaller communities. All of these studies, and I am sure many more of which I am unaware, have contributed to a better understanding of the complex relationship between the railroad and the places it served.
When I was given the chance to study two small railroads in one particular city, I first focused on the railroads themselves-the Indianapolis Union Railway and the Indianapolis Belt Railroad-and the main-line railroads they served, the Union for passenger traffic and the Belt for freight. I soon found maps showing these railroads in detail and in relation to the street patterns of Indianapolis. Knowing that the historic 1888 Indianapolis Union Station was and still is at the heart of the city s railroad nexus led me naturally to ask what role those railroads and that landmark building had played in the shaping of this important midwestern community and also what role the city-its physical form, its politicians and business interests-had played in shaping the local railroad network and facilities. The deeper my research went, the more interested I became in trying to make my own contribution to the published record on this admittedly somewhat arcane aspect of our nation s history. I hope I have succeeded and that this book will inspire others to ask the same questions in their own communities.

MY NAME IS on the cover of this book, but it s there because a whole army of helpful people made it possible. Many other authors have said this, but it is as true as ever: I could not have done it without them.
My thanks go first to Thomas G. Hoback, founder of the Indiana Rail Road (INRD), who conceived the idea of a book on the Indianapolis Union (IU) and the Belt and sponsored my efforts. He also showed admirable patience during a long research and writing process. Other helpful INRD people, current and former, include Robert Babcock, Shae LeDune, and Larry Ratcliffe. Eric Powell of INRD took me on a daylong, frigid, but informative tour to places where we could (safely) view the Belt of today.
My thanks also to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society (R LHS), which awarded me the first annual William D. Middleton Research Fellowship in 2012. Robert F. Holtzweiss, president, and Paul Gibson, treasurer, were most generous in awarding this support at a critical time. Thanks also to Mark Entrop of R LHS for encouraging me to apply for the Middleton Fellowship.
Leigh Darbee and Robert Barrows, my sister and my brother-in-law, were always gracious in giving me a place to stay during my trips to Indianapolis. Both are published historians, and Leigh was of great help in tracking down images at the Indiana Historical Society library. Some of their published work helped me tell the IU and Belt story.
The Indiana Historical Society s William H. Smith Memorial Library was a treasure trove of primary and secondary sources, as well as excellent historical images. My thanks to Suzanne Hahn, vice president, Archives and Library; Steve Haller, former senior director, Collections and Library; Nadia Kousari, coordinator of visual reference; Dorothy Nicholson, archivist, Manuscript and Visual Collections; and Susan Sutton, director of digitization.
Brian Banta, railroad archives collector par excellence, lent a large amount of IU Railway material and trusted me with it for an extended period. Thanks, Brian.
Wayne Maple of Train Central in Indianapolis helped early on by providing names and phone numbers of knowledgeable Indianapolis railroaders, photographers, and collectors, all of whom were of great help in assembling information. They include Richard K. Baldwin, whose railroad archive is better organized than just about any other I have seen; he was a generous host during several visits who let me copy and scan important materials. Gene Maresca and John Ricci met with me to provide original documents and photos. Danny Walker, former IU Railway signalman, provided firsthand insights, as did Bob Wheeler and Tom Bonsett, whom I reached through the group Railfans of Indianapolis. Jim Tremblay, the Indianapolis Union Railway s superintendent and auditor until the folding of IU into CSX, provided information and perspective.
Mary K. Geary of the Transportation Library, Northwestern University, guided me through that fine collection. Monique Howell, reference librarian, Indiana Collection, Indiana State Library, provided maps from the state s collection. Bill Howes, of the Lexington Group in Transportation History and the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, tracked down an early

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