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Roger Hensley

  Railroads of Madison County
Jennifer Bickel

From: Jennifer Bickel
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 14:48:04 -0400
Subject: 1913 Flood and the Railroads
Good afternoon Roger-

While doing some personal research re: the 1913 Indiana/Ohio Flood, I came across your post. I wanted to share a quote with you from a private manuscript that was written around 1960 or so by my Great Uncle - brother to my Grandmother, John Aloysious Miller. He was traveling by train from Detroit to Evansville. Here is a portion of his first hand account...

"Before going to Washington, as I indicated at the end of Chapter II, I will describe a trip I took in the fall of 1913, about the middle of September. I'd always wanted to see the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Indianapolis, Indiana, therefore, I scheduled my trip so I would have ample time between trains so I could view this beautiful monument. It is located in the heart of the city known as Monument Circle. A number of streets radiate from this circle, like the spokes of a wheel from the hub. The monument is about 150 feet tall and has an elevator to take you to the top for a look see of the city. Yes, I took this elevator and enjoyed a beautiful vista of the city in the morning sun.

About 11:00 o'clock am I took a train for Terre Haute, where I would make connections with the E-TH coming from Chicago, which would take me to Evansville. This was the fastest train ride I had ever experienced. We made the 68 miles in 72 minutes from start to stop. I arrived at Evansville that evening but had to stay all night as the evening train on the IC had already left. I arrived at Martin where I got off, about 7.15 miles and walked home, a distance of a half mile the next morning on Sunday.

The folks did not know that I was coming and were quite surprised to see me. The folks were getting ready to go to Mass, so I went along, as I had not been to Mass as yet. I stayed at home for about 10 days during which time the weather was very unpleasant. It rained almost every day.

At that time my oldest sister (Sr. Mary Florence) who was a member of The Sisters of St. Francis, of Oldenburg, Indiana was stationed at St. Leon, Indiana and I hadn't seen her since March 1907 when she entered the order. I decided to visit her too while I was so close to her parish. In order to get to this little country town in southeastern Indiana I had to take a round about route as no railroad served the village. I went from Evansville to Terre Haute to Muncie and there took the C&O to Cincinnati, Ohio although I got off at a little town about 20 miles from Cincinnati, Indiana. I can't recall the name of the little place, but it was about eight miles from St. Leon.

From Muncie to where I got off, the railroad runs right alongside of the Whitewater River where they had had a serious flood that spring. Not a single depot was left. They had all been swept away by the flood. Old boxcars were used for depots. When you saw the debris hanging high in the trees, left there by the flood, it didn't seem possible that it could rain enough, so the water would rise that high. All the bridges along the river were gone. Southeastern Indiana is very hilly, some several hundred feet high. Many of these are covered with a growth of scrub oak on which the leaves were just beginning to turn. The sun was beginning to sink in the west, when I saw a column of smoke rise through the trees, on top of one of these tall hills. You couldn't see the source of the smoke, but no doubt it came from somebody's stove where supper was being prepared. What a beautiful picture this would have made with a color camera.

This transcript is around 60-70 hand typed pages of his travels by train to various points of interest and for various reasons. It is called "50,000 Miles Sea to Sea" by John A. Miller. It is not available except through the manuscript, however, I am publishing portions of the transcript to be included in a book entitled Memories of a Country Boy - written by John A. Miller as well. He typed this information for his grandchildren.

I saw your pictures on the website and thought you might get a kick out of reading a first hand account of this story.


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