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Let's Talk Traction

Traction Front

Let's Talk Traction
On Saturday, November 28, 1998, I received this message...

Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 22:57:18 -0500
From: steve long
Subject: An Anderson question

Let's talk Traction, Anderson was the location for the Indiana Railroad's major repair facilities. Now tell me, if I were to find the location , where would one look? Is anything built on the property today? Any telltales that exist today?

Steve Long

A Remembrance:

My mind immediately lept back to the time in the 1950s that I used to walk or ride my bicycle back and forth to town from my home on West Vineyard Street. Glazier Brothers had a salvage yard in what used to be the 'Old Car Barns' as my father called the building on Broadway. The Pennsy track was still in place across Broadway to service Glazier's. The old sidewalk along side the building had sunk down and fill had been put at the south end making it difficult to use. I generally used the sidewalk across the street as it was in better shape. I do recall noticing that the two or three story high end of the building (NW corner) had been turned into apartments. I recall walking by one summer afternoon and seeing that the door on Broadway was open to capture what little air movement there was and I could see the well worn steps and the faded paint and battered mail boxes. I often wondered just who lived up there...

After giving Steve's question some thought, I replied:

(Ans) Anderson was the proud home of the Union Traction Company before it became a part of the Indiana Railroad. The facilities here were excellent with the car barns and power plant. The power plant drew it's water from the Kilbuck Creek behind it. A Mill Race had been cut directing water flow from the creek for use by the power plant and shops.

Indiana RR at Union Traction Power Plant
As far as locating the facilities, They were across the White River from downtown Anderson in North Anderson. They sit on Broadway just north of the Broadway Street bridge. Jackson Street downtown becomes Broadway when it crosses the bridge. Immediately across the bridge is the intersection with Grand Avenue and Frisch's Big Boy on the right (NE) corner. About a half block or so beyond that is the car barns on the east side of Broadway.

An electrical distributor, Kirby-Risk, has an operation in there and J.C. Penny's has (or used to have) warehouse space around in the back.

It still looks like the car barns although many of the doors and windows have been closed off. I believe that the property is still owned by Glazier Bros who had a salvage yard operation there for many years.

Beyond that as you move north, is Brown's Bowling. That building replaced the power plant that sat on that spot until it burned a few years ago. And beyond that is the Best-Ever, East-Side Jersey Dairy (has a new name now). That, too, was a part of the Union Traction complex.

Underground between those two buildings is a series of closed off tunnels that used to carry water, steam, people and electrical connections between the two buildings. There were also the tunnels leading to Kilbuck Creek from the power plant. When the bowling alley burned, there was a real danger that the fire would spread to the dairy and along the creek bank. Of course, no one knew that there were tunnels connecting everything together. It was all a big surprise to the fire fighters. !@%%##@& (my thoughts about THAT!)

I understand that when you go behind the shops structure, you may still be able to find an occasional hanger or spike from the yards that were there. Don't count on that tho as it has been far too many years for that to be true any longer.

I have included here a picture of the car barns taken south east (to the rear) of the building and you can get a pretty good idea what it looks like.

As I said, Steve. you can't miss it. Glad you asked!

PS - As you cross the Broadway bridge going north, the ruined railway bridge to the left is the old PRR bridge.


Picture Credits:
Indiana RR at Union Traction Power Plant - 1935-38 from the Ron Buser Collection

Traction Front

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