When, at 11:20 PM on October 31st, 1939, Indiana Railroad Train #35 pulled out of the Louisville Interurban Terminal, this was the beginning of the end of through electric Interurban rail service between Louisville and Indianapolis – a service that began in 1908.
As the orange car with dark green roof emerged from the terminal, it turned east onto Jefferson Street, continued south on Third Street, east onto Prospect Alley, south on Brook Street, east on Madison Street, north on Wenzel Street and onto the approach to the Big Four Bridge. On this final trip, a large wreath hung around the big interurban headlight.
Up to the very last, Indiana Railroad was a high speed operation. On a 9.1 mile stretch in south central Indiana between Columbus and Azalia the regular schedule called for cars to cover this distance in 9 minutes for an average speed of 60.6 mph. Speeds over 70 mph were necessary to meet this schedule. Quick acceleration of these 1930’s era electric cars made this possible.
So, what killed the interurban? Among other things, Henry Ford and his Model T.
Indiana Railroad, “The Magic Interurban,” George K. Bradley, Bulletin #128, Central Electric Railfans Association. 1991
Indian Railroad System Timetable, April 30, 1939.
Interstate, “A History of Interstate Public Service Rail Operations,” Jerry Marlette. 1990
Trolley Sparks, “Indiana Railroad System,” Bulletin #91, Central Electric Railfans’ Association. 1950