|A Brief History of Union Traction Co. of Indiana
The UTC of Indiana interurban system has always been fascinating to me. I grew up in North Anderson not far from the Shops & Power House. At the time, Glazer Brothers had a scrap yard where the ladder tracks for the shop had been located. Brown's Bowling Alley resided in part of the old power house. And across the street, Broadway Sales' used car lot occupied the old tie yard. I watched as fire consumed part of the old shop building, destroying history.
As a native of Anderson, Indiana, the home of U.T.C.of I., I have a special interest in helping to preserve the history of this once great traction company.
The information & photos on these pages were gathered, in part, from the CERA bulletin #102 dated 1958.
NOTE: In the "LINKS" section, you will find a link to photos and text sent to me by my friend, David Dwiggins. Dave has done extensive research on the small Madison Co. In. community of Orestes, and also of northern Madison Co.© 2000-2007 Jack J. Grant
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An infinitely more impressive and elegant vehicle than the urban trolleys from which it evolved, the interurban car was an imposing sight as it rumbled and worried its way throught the traffic of city streets, bound for the countryside and the freedom of its own private rails. Once free of the city the big cars hurried along at exhilararating speeds, swaying and "nosing" from side to side on the often uneven track. Windows flung open against the warmth of a summer's day scooped up the rich odors of the countryside, sometimes mingled with the ozone smell generated by the electric traction motors or the pungent odor of grinding brake shoes as the car slowed for a stop. A high-pitched screaming came from the traction motors and gears, and the steady thump and hiss of the trolley wheel overhead was faintly heard. The wheels beat a measured rhythm over staggered rail joints, and now and then, to the clank of loose fitting switch points and frogs, the car lurched through turnouts that led to spurs or sidings. Occasionally the air compressor beneath the car cut in. The conductor's signal cord, suspended from the ceiling, flip-flopped back and forth, and there was a muffled creaking from the car's ornate woodwork.
At night the powerful headlight knifed throught the darkness ahead, and when the trolley wire was coated with sleet, the countyside was fleetingly illuinated with the great blue-white flashes ever time the racing trolley wheel, or "shoe", momentarily lost contact with the wire.
Sealed off in his special compartment at the front, the motorman, clad in the cap and pin-striped coveralls of real railroading, busied himself with controller, brakes, bell, and the air horn. The blue-uniformed, brass buttoned conductor collected the fares, chatted amiably with the passengers, and in the wintertime, if the car wasn't equipped with electric heaters, stoked coal into the hot water heater that kept the car comfortably overheated. There was an easy informality to interurban travel. Most of the train crews knew their clientele on a first name basis, and they were not above such homely tasks as running a few errands for a housewife along the line, or seeing to the safe arrival of an unescorted child to his destination.
The interurban was everyone's conveyance in the days before the family car, and it provided far more than just the transportation necessities of farmer, small-towner, or commercial traveler. Whether for business, a family picnic outing, a Sunday excursion to town, or simply the thrilling experience of high-speed trolleying, almost everyone rode the interurban.
(The Interuban Era)