Anderson, Then and Now
December 4, 2001
Today at Anderson Indiana in 2001, General Motors and other manufacturing plants, some existing to serve GM, have been reduced to zero or at least 90% of its size in 1950 and early 1960.
World War II was probably the zenith of manufacturing and employment in Anderson and the surrounding area for a radius of 25 miles. By 1950 business had leveled out after the war and was at a steady pace. The railroad at South Anderson was at a business level with GM, that in a few years would go down to almost zero.
In 1950 South Anderson yards was a beehive of activity. At that time the NYC had a car repair shop and a clean out track. The repair track or RIP track, repaired, inspected and painted freight cars. The clean out track was used to clean the inside of boxcars, gondolas and flatcars that would be reloaded.
The roundhouse at that time had 16 stalls and 2 or 3 open tracks on the east end of the engine house. The roundhouse was equipped to repair up to what was called backshop. When an engine was backshopped at the Beech Grove shops in Indianapolis, it was completely disassembled and rebuilt.
Some of you may remember the coal dock at South Anderson, that big black wooden building about 80 feet high, just west of Main Street at South Anderson. Of course these facilities employed many people. The number of yard engines was 5. The first trick west end on duty at 7am and I think the city job was on duty at 6:45am. The west end job switched the trains and the B-Line setoffs, made after 12am.
The first trick city job usually had 35-50 cars and pulled around the south wye heading south. At that time, there was a track from the east end of the south wye running north crossing the B-Line, and connecting to the east end of the north wye at 31st Street. After pulling out of the south wye, the city job would back north over 29th St., cut off the train and start the days work at the Anaconda wire plant.
Next was the lumber company at 29th St., then both ends of Delco Remy. The city job worked its way north to Sefton and the paper mill. Maybe two or three times a week it would go to Dow and work a lumber company and steel plant on the lateral track north of Dow. The lateral track extended east about a mile.
At Sefton there was a track running east to a grocery warehouse. The PRR came from the east and also switched this warehouse. The city job worked its way back to South Anderson, doing work on double track between Pearl St. and 31st Street. The city job would put off duty in 8 hours. The second city job would work another 8 hours, working Guide Lamp and other industries not worked by the first trick. The first, second and third trick west end yard jobs switched the yards and B-Line setoffs and pickups, also the three to five freights on the Michigan Division.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the locals would leave South Anderson. The north local to Wabash was on duty first, I think 7:30am. The south local to Greensburg came on duty at 8am. These jobs would go to their outlying terminals one day and return the next. This made them work 6 days a week. Most of the time these jobs were making one to three hours overtime each day. The B-Line also had a local working out of South Anderson 6 days a week. It was called about the same time as the other locals. They would go east to Yorktown and Muncie and return to South Anderson and then head west to Oaklandon, working their way back to South Anderson.
There were two freight jobs to Lousiville Kentucky, Number 71 was on duty at 7am at South Anderson. Number 79 was on duty at 9pm at South Anderson. The freight trains' terminal was Jeffersonville Indiana. Passenger trains would tie up at Louisville. During the Kentucky Derby the NYC ran 5 or 6 passenger trains from Anderson and Greensburg to Louisville. Number 76, the morning northbound, was called for 7am and Number 78, the night job, was called for 8pm at Jeffersonville.
The crews on 71 and 76 were pool crews and 79 and 78 were assigned. There were two pool crews that normally worked 71 and 76, but could be used for extra trains north or south from South Anderson. There was one northbound, Number 74, called for 12:30pm at South Anderson and Number 75, southbound, called for 12:15pm at Elkhart. These were also assigned as 78 and 79. An assigned job meant the job had a certain time for going to work and number of days worked. This applied to yard jobs and locals also. The engine assigned to Number 74-75, worked only these jobs and the same for 79-78.
In order to give the crews home time, there was a swing job, so called, for the assigned jobs. The swing job made a trip south and a trip north, then laid in a trip. What this meant was you worked four days and laid in one. These jobs were ongoing, by this I mean your off days were never the same. These jobs spoiled everyone because of knowing when you are going to work and your days off. This all changed sometime in 1956-1957. They made all road jobs pool. This meant you could work north or south on any job. Next, the locals came off and pools worked all jobs. MD-4, MD-5 started running Indianapolis-Elkhart and shortly before PC, the south end trains ran Indianapolis to Jeffersonville over the PRR.
As Delco Remy and other manufacturers left Anderson, the railroad jobs left also. With the CSX takeover of Conrail, they did not keep the track north of the B-Line. They lost the papermill at Sefton and the grain business at Dow to NS. This is an example of changes that take place in 50 years and how dependent each one is on the other. Only time will reveal if progress is good or bad. One thing is certain and that is progress will happen and man must adapt to it.
In the late 20's, the Michigan Division ran 20 trains and 12-1500 tons was about all an engine could pull out of Wabash. Today, one AC diesel can pull 5500 tons.
Anderson is just a town that trains run through and all we have are memories.
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."