Big Four Michigan Division Water Stops
November 5, 2003
Q) Steam was thirsty. So, how far apart did the Big 4 have water tanks/columns/plugs?
A) On the Michigan Division with the small tanks in the old days the water tanks/plugs, were closer and as the 11000 and 15000 gal tanks came into use some were done away with. In the early days the tanks were 10 to 18 miles apart and with the larger tanks the space grew to 20 miles. My memories, 'Water Tanks and Fast Motor Cars' and 'All in a Days Work' describes water use and each tank's personality.
Here are the locations of tanks from Benton Harbor to North Vernon and then the ones that were removed.
There were tanks at Benton Harbor, Niles, Elkhart, Goshen, Warsaw and North Manchester. Between Warsaw and North Manchester is twenty miles and I feel that they must have had a tank at Silver Lake but I never heard the old timers mention it. Then came Wabash, Marion, Summitville, Anderson and South Anderson.
Starting at South Anderson south bound, next was Shirley, Knightstown, Carthage, Rushville, Greensburg and Westport. Here again I feel there was a tank at Westport because of the large amount of switching at Westport in the early days, and then North Vernon. There were 2 water tanks on the B&O, one at Nabb and the other at Charlestown Indiana.
The tank at Niles became mute after 1942 when the track was abandoned between Niles Jct. and Elkhart because the local delivered to the yards at Niles and could get water there. The tanks from Goshen to Marion were about 19 miles apart and Marion and Anderson was 15 miles apart. At Anderson uptown you could get water and at South Anderson on the Bee Line main or at the roundhouse.
On the south end, Shirley had a water tank south of highway 234 about 100 yards at the creosote factory until it went out of business around 1925. This was about 15 miles from South Anderson. The tank at Carthage was removed as the tanks became larger circa 1920. Westport, if there was one there, would have been removed about 1920-25 as the business left. With the tanks located at the 17-20 mile distance rare was water a problem. MEL
Maurice worked the Michigan Division from 1947-1981. He then worked on the Bee Line from 1981-1992. From 1947 until august 1950, he worked on the section at Shirley and Markleville. In 1950 he started firing on steam and then on through the diesels. Maurice said, "I had the pleasure of working with C. C. Staley and Ron Buser many times."