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Kyle Coble
Memories


Wabash Indiana

Wabash Indiana was most important in regards to the North South railroad line from 1872 to 1925. 

Wabash was the headquarters for the division and the sight of railroad shops until around 1925 when the shops were shut down.  The reason the depot was so large is that it held the offices for the division on the top floors.  (The smaller building attached by a breeze way was a restaurant).  When the line was the Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan Railroad (1870-1891) Wabash was the sight of their main shop for the road.  Along with the normal business of a railroad shop, some freight cars and passenger cars were built at Wabash.  As the line grew, eventually going from Benton Harbor Michigan to Louisville Kentucky, and other repair shops became available, the shops continued to be maintained at Wabash by The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (Big Four) and also by the New York Central Railroad after the Big Four came under their control.

The shops at Wabash were important enough to the railroad that when they burnt in 1894, the Big Four not only rebuilt the shops, but they built them to handle twice the capacity that was required.  The shops were a busy place for many years employing over one hundred men at various times, but that came to an end in 1925.  The last day of employment for the shop workers was May 18, 1925, however the car inspection and repair seemed to have gone on for a little while after that date.  After 1925, light repairs were to be done at Anderson and Elkhart with heavy repair to be done at Indianapolis.  The main shop building and car shed was torn down in 1932. 

At Wabash, to get to the shops from the main line you did have to use a diamond, at one time there were two diamonds across the main line, however the main yard was located along the river, on the other side of the cut, and did not require crossing the main line.  Passenger service discontinued in 1946 and carload freight discontinued in 1954 on the Big Four at Wabash.  I think the water tower was torn down in 1957.  The station was torn down in November 1966.   I'm not sure when the yard was taken out of service, but it did last at least into the mid 60's.  When the shops were active, they were very important to Wabash's growth and economy, and of course provided a necessary service for the Michigan Division.

In the early years, Wabash was located at the right place along the line and had plenty of room for the equipment of the time.  I would guess as time went on, and steam locomotives were able to travel further and require less maintenance and with equipment increased size, the facilities at Wabash became redundant and obsolete.  Even if Wabash magically had been located at a different point on the line the railroad didn't have room to expand because the site was pretty much boxed in; city to the west, the river to the south and east, and the large hill to the north. 

The shops were located were Paradise Springs park is now.  The foundation for the round house and the ring for the turntable are still visible and the brick building on the corner was part of the shops.  If you go down there today, it is hard to imagine that they fit all the things that they did, in such a small area.

Kyle Coble


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