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?
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.
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
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.
Indiana RR at Union Traction Power Plant - 1935-38 from the Ron Buser Collection