Articles about light rail.
“Happy” 75th Birthday
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
Section of Legacy Rails Removed at 38th and Market
In an unfortunate example of the right hand not talking to the left, in the dark of night on June 9th, two six foot sections of double rail streetcar
tracks were destroyed to make room for faux cobblestone crosswalks. You would think that city construction crews would have been briefed about what NOT to do when archaeological artifacts are encountered. It is not clear what the rules are about dealing with the tracks but indications are that city officials do care about these assets.
In an email exchange between John Owen, candidate for the 5th district Metro Council seat and public works official Dirk Gowan, Gowan said:
“I apologize for the confusion on the tracks, it was my responsibility to assure the tracks were destroyed, and assure you that the extension of the project will not destroy other sections of the track.”
A typo? I think he meant …”to assure the tracks were NOT destroyed.” Anyway, we hope so.
It is not beyond imagining that someday Metro Louisville will want to add streetcars to the urban landscape for all the right reasons. Dallas and other cities have been able to save millions in capital expense by reusing legacy tracks.
Therefore preservation of these valuable assets should be the rule. And the rule should be codified through the Landmarks Commission. In any case a professional development workshop for public works construction crews on proper treatment of archaeological assets is certainly in order.
Author Ben Ross Coming to Louisville June 1st
CART Presents Author, Passenger Rail Advocate and New Urbanist Ben Ross
Ben Ross Will Be in Louisville Jun 1, 2014 at Carmichael’s Bookstore to discuss his new book:
DEAD END, Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism