Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pennsy's Vandalia Railroad

There currently exists a Vandalia Railroad. but it is a 3-mile remnant of the IC in Vandalia, IL. If you have read about Vandalia Railroad in some publication, it probably refers to the railroad between St. Louis and Indianapolis that Pennsy absorbed. Fortunately, I found a map (below) because this is one of those railroads that was built from a tangle of incorporations.

In 1847 the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad was chartered to build across the middle of Indiana. The western part was opened in February 1852. [PastTracker] The TH&R probably carried all the freight to Indianapolis that came up the Wabash River by steamboat. This was probably quite a money maker because we learn from PastTracker that the management lost interest in the eastern part, and it was recharted in 1851 as the Indiana Central. The president, Chauncey Rose, turned his attention to reaching St. Louis. The TH&R worked with various Illinois corporations to get connectivity to the Mississippi River. (In crossing wars, I learned that in the early 1850s laws had yet to be written that allowed railroads to get interstate charters.) While the board of the TH&R fought with the Illinois based railroada, the workers continued to deliver goods between the Mississippi River and Indianapolis. This was especially important when the Civil War broke out because commercial trade on the river stopped. In February 1865, the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad was incorporated. There are more details on this new railroad below the first map. In March 1865 the Indiana legislature changed the name of TH&R to reflect the reality of Terre Haute & Indianapolis (TH&I). "On 1 January 1905 it consolidated with the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, Terre Haute & Logansport, Logansport & Toledo, and the Indianapolis & Vincennes to form the Vandalia Railroad Company." [PastTracker]

As early as 1868, the Pennsy was interested in the TH&I. They finally acquired it in 1893, just in time to have it add to its woes in the depression of 1893. By 1904 the laws for interstate incorporation were well established and the Vandalia Railroad was incorporated with all of the properties listed in the map below. [PastTracker] Search the Panhandle page for "Vandalia" and read the rest of that posting to see how the Vandalia Railroad was completely absorbed by the Pennsy by 1956.

See Tom's page for a description of the South Bend end of the Vandalia. There used to be a lot of industry in South Bend --- Singer Sewing Machines, Oliver Chilled Plow Works (which later made tractors), and Studebaker. Even Notre Dame was a source of railroad traffic because of the "Football Specials."

Map 14 from Mark D. Bej's CentHist, Copyleft
I wondered if the TH&I management was so mad at the management of the Illinois railroads that they built a new (i.e. expensive) railroad between Terre Haute and St. Louis. The following map indicates that they did build a new railroad. And while they were building a new route, it was a more direct route. Furthermore, it was well built judging by the concrete arch bridge they used over the Little Wabash River.
Map 9 from Mark D. Bej's CentHistCopyleft
Also from IndianaRailfan
The following undoes the modification that Blogspot does when I upload a file and makes the map readable.

An excerpt from the above map at downloaded file resolution.
This map clearly shows that they built a new "air line" route south of the original route. By 1928 the northern route was evidently owned by the Nickle Plate (Cloverleaf) on the west side and middle and the Big Four on the east side.

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