INTERURBAN: A word coined by Anderson, Indiana businessman and politician, Charles L. Henry.
INTER: meaning "between",
URBAN: meaning "town or city".
No name could have been more correct, yet explicit than Union Traction. In 1914 there were five companies of this name, widely scattered throughout the country. A dozen more had Union leading their corporate names.
Union Traction will be used in this reference to the interurban and street railway traction empire centering at Anderson, Indiana, and more correctly known as Union Traction Company of Indiana at the close of its corporate life.
Union Traction had its beginings in one of the pioneer electric railway line of the midwest, that between Anderson and Alexandria, Indiana. This first central Indiana. line was promoted by a group of Anderson men, but less than two years after the first car bounced over the rural trackage north of Anderson a Philadelphia syndicate, Dolan-Morgan, became interested in the possibilities of a network of inter-city electric lines throughout the "gas belt". Steam railroads linked these towns, but service was slow and infrequent. Roads were crude and impassable in bad weather, but even on fine days cruising range of horse and buggy restricted farm commerce severely. The handy little traction cars could put the farmer and his produce within a couple of hours of the lucrative city markets.
Small wonder then, that within a few years nearly every steam railroad in this area was parallelled by a Union Traction line. By 1916 the system comprised a total of 410.3 route miles, in addition to trackage rights over 93.5 miles of foreign interurban lines.
City lines in Anderson, Marion, Muncie and Elwood totalled something over 44 miles at their greatest extent.
Additional interurban routes surveyed and graded, but never railed, would have connected Anderson and Elwood, Alexandria and Muncie, and Middletown and New Castle.
From: City of Anderson Illustrated (very early 1900's)
by John O. Hardesty
"The UTC of Indiana is the medium of local travel for twenty-four towns and cities (not including Indianapolis) as follows:
Cities--Anderson, Alexandria, Elwood, Gas City, Marion and Muncie.
Incorporated towns--Fairmount, Fortville, Ingalls, Jonesboro, Middletown, Orestes, Pendleton and Summitville.
Unincorporated towns--Alfonte, Chesterfield, Dundee, Lawrence, Linwood, McCordsville, Oaklandon and Yorktown.
A department for handling small freight and express matter has been established. It would be more properly called a light express and package business, the handling of general or heavy frieght not being attempted. Provision is made in all passenger cars for baggage and parcels.
Separate express cars are run at regular intervals over all the interurban lines of this company. This department supplies a cheap and rapid means of transmitting the class of matter referred to, and is meeting with general favor.
Philip Mater, President, Marion
James A VanOsdol, 1st VP, Anderson
Frank M. Riter, 2nd VP, Philadelphia
Charles L. Henry, Secretary & GM, Anderson
Geo. F. McCullough, Treasurer, Muncie
William MacLean, Ass't. Secretary & Treasurer, Philadelphia
Charles Berry, Superintendant, Anderson.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Philip Mater, Marion
Geo. F. McCulloch, Muncie
Charles L. Henry, Anderson
James A. VanOsdol, Anderson
W.C. Sampson, Muncie
Randall Morgan, Philadelphia
Frederick Strauss, New York City.
The whole interurban system of the UTC, comprehending as it does, 165 miles of trackage, is the outgrowth of the purchase of the Anderson Street Railway by Hon. Charles L. Henry, and it has been his untiring efforts and splendid executive ability that we today enjoy the benefits of this magnificent transportation enterprise.
We all remember the Anderson street car system of eight years ago, with its uncertain track, dinky cars and dinkier mules, when the citizen of Hazelwood (an addition on the near west side of Anderson--webmaster), when leaving the public square, was uncertain he would reach his destination whole-limbed or not. Not infrequently derailed cars had to be jack-screwed out of the mud, while passengers stood about watching the operation.
Those were the gallus days in street car transportation, but they are only a memory now.
Hon. Charles L. Henry, prosecuting the practice of his profession, and engaging in politics preliminary to an election to congress, rightly concluded that this town was showing energy and enterprise enought to rapidly become a great city, and that the jerkwater street railway, with its franchises, could be made a dividend paying piece of property. He purchased the whole outfit and at once began the betterment of its physical condition.
New rails were laid and miles of extension made, and electric power supplanted mule power at the very earliest date possible. Those were busy years for Mr. Henry, for during four years of the time this transition was going on he was serving faithfully and actively as a member of the American Congress. But the methodical way Mr. Henry does business enabled him to accomplish the work of half a dozen men of hap-hazzard business habits.
Time will evidence that of the few who can be so called, Mr. Henry will be placed in the list of Anderson's benefactors, for, while the city sytem and the interurban will be sources of geat profit, what other man saw the future and its opportunities and had the courage to undertake what has grown to be so vast and costly an enterprise?"
Charles L. Henry
The Henry Residence
1000 blk Jackson Street, Anderson
Henry grave at East Maplewood Cemetery, Anderson, IN.
photo taken 6-4-2000
Henry Family plot
photo taken 6-4-2000
The official car of the Union Traction Co.
CITY STREET CAR LINES
Union Traction operated local systems in Muncie, Anderson, Marion and Elwood.
In 1921, Birney type single truck safety cars replaced the old equipment in the three larger cities. The Elwood system was abandoned in 1924.
Suburban service was provided between Marion and Jonesboro-Gas City (more than 6 miles) at the local 5¢ fare.
During the summer months crowds of people used Union Traction to reach amusement parks on its lines, such as Mounds Park, near Anderson; Riverside Park, on a branch near Eaton; Matter Park in Marion; and Broad Ripple Park north of Indianapolis. Fine specimens of the work of prehistoric mound-builders were undoubtedly saved from destruction when the company purchased Mounds Park (later Mounds State Park); other mounds at the site had already been plowed up by industrious Hoosier farmers.
The most important suburban operation of Union Traction was its Broad Ripple line, later to become the busy College Avenue line of the INDIANAPOLIS RAILWAYS. This line, ten miles in length, was opened in September 1894 and the first car was a single truck double-ender with closed vestibules and monitor roof. It was of course of wood construction. It was equipped with a whistle in addition to the usual gong, and sported a powerful arc headlight. The road was financed by a Dr. Light, whose home stood, until 1922, on "Light Free Gravel Pike", at a point now known as 63rd St. and College Ave.
Mind you, at that time Indianapolis extended only as far north as about 16th Street. Everything beyond was open country and Broad Ripple was the nearest town. The cars originally started north via Illinois Street, later via Central Ave., and finally, after 1905, via College Ave.
Double truck cars came into use on the Broad Ripple line about 1899. At this time it was known as Broad Ripple Traction Company, and was single track beyond the city limits. About 1907, Union Traction took over the property and renamed the park "White City". Both open and closed cars were assigned, and their dashers were painted white with "White City" lettered in black in an arch over the headlight. But a disastrous fire overtook the park and demolished most of the rolling stock, so, in 1909, ten new cars were acquired.
These were steel sheathed, and had unusually deep buffer channels for protection in the event of a collision with high floor interurbans.
As the city limits extended north the Broad Ripple Line became part of the Indianapolis Street Railway, in accordance with the terms of an agreement between the interurban and the local company.
The last section of line north of 46th Street was purchased by the street railway in 1926 and the steel-clad rolling stock was later used on the Marion-Gas City, Anderson-North Anderson, Anderson-Mounds Park, and the Eaton-Riverside runs.
White City car #182 at Anderson Shop.
An early streetcar
Anderson, believed to be 3rd St.
South Side of Public Square 1895
Steel streetcar (IRR)
Photo taken in Anderson, in front of the Courthouse.
Meridian Street, Anderson, IN.
Looking north from 14th St.