Track Gang

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11/25/2007


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Maurice Lewman
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End of an Era
(Click on photo for larger view)

Looking at the local newspaper, The Knightstown Banner, who also has been in business 140 yrs, the article reads, “Carthage Mill closes in June” (2007). The Carthage, In. paper mill has been in business since 1891. In the early days it was known as the U.S. Board & Paper Co. going through several different owners over the years, ending with Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation.

When I was a young boy in the middle thirties, it was referred to as the Straw Board. This was because they used large amounts of straw to make the paper. The straw was mixed with scrap paper to make paper for cardboard boxes. There were five or six huge piles of straw piled up like pyramids on the property. For whatever reason, a pile would catch on fire. The heat was terrific but two houses that were a hundred feet from the one pile never caught fire. After I started working on the railroad and we were still using steam, I was on #79, a night southbound, a pile of straw was burning. We were close to a half-mile away and as we passed by you could feel the heat.

Around 1960 the mill started using pulpwood instead of straw. Most of the pulpwood was loaded in gons, of course it took large amounts of wood. There was wood in every track in Carthage in Knox Siding five miles north and Boyd Siding two miles south. Of course you could not switch these cars mine run, which means at random, but the operator at Carthage would give you a switch list of the cars needed. This required much time because sometimes we had to switch cars at Knox

Siding to bring to Carthage into the mess that was already there. In with this was coal to be switched, so here were empties out and loads in. In #5 and #6 track, you had to double spot the boxcars to unload the scrap paper after pulling the empties and pulling the loads of finished paper and re-spotting empties to be loaded.

One night we switched cars to go to the mill from uptown Carthage and did get the empties from the mill, taking only 8 hours. As the years passed, they burned oil and then natural gas for steam and stopped using logs or straw. In part 2, we will discuss the 38 miles of track between Anderson, In. and Rushville, In. that included Carthage.

Part 2
This part will be about the towns and some history about the 38 miles between South Anderson and Rushville, In. The Cincinnati Wabash & Michigan, C.W. & M, arrived in Anderson, In. in the year 1876 and operated between Anderson and Benton Harbor, Mi., after 1881 with connections to 13 railroads. On the south end, Rushville, In. to North Vernon, In., the Vernon, Greensburg, and Rushville, VG&R, left a gap of 38 miles.

In 1890 ground was bought and construction was started. Sometime in 1891 the track was opened. The paper mill at Carthage was the only factory in the beginning. We will move back to Anderson and start south and mention how business grew until about 1930. There was a covered bridge over Fall Creek north of Emporia. I do not know when this bridge was replaced. Alliance was the first town, 3.7 miles south of Anderson. Emporia was next and the only railroad business was an elevator. There was a hotel here and was a flag stop for 4 passenger trains. Highway 36 also crossed the railroad at this location making business for the hotel and the railroad.

Shirley: This town did not exist until 1891 when the C.W. & M. crossed the P. & E., (the Springfield Div. of the Big 4), at this point. This town grew and had many factories with business growing to 1,000 cars a month in the early 1900's. This all changed by 1925 as the natural gas supply ended. The 1893 depot is still located here. It is unchanged except the bay window was removed from the west end in 1939.

Knightstown: A warehouse, a poultry house, canning factory and a small bulk oil plant was the industry here.

Carthage (as mentioned in Part 1).
1974

Switching the Paper Mill. M. E. Lewman with head out of window watching for signals

Henderson: A small country town with a siding and stock pens. In August 1920, the farmers around Henderson shipped out 17 carloads of cattle.

Rushville: Here the business was a furniture factory, coal yards, and an interchange with the B & O. When the C.W & M. closed this gap, the Big 4 took over the C.W. & M. in 1892. This gave them a route from Benton Harbor, Mi. to Louisville, Ky. All is now gone except for 5 miles from Carthage to Knightstown run by a tourist railroad CKS and 6 miles to the elevator at Emporia from Anderson. The CKS is open during the summer. Check schedule at www.cksrailroad.homestead.com

Maurice Lewman


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."


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