Railroad Remniscenes of Clay County, Indiana Page 1
From: A History of Clay County, Indiana
By: William Travis (of Middlebury)
The Lewis Publishing Company
New York - Chicago 1909
These came from a section of the history of Clay County, Indiana with 400 Remniscences. The ones dealing with the railroads are separated here. Many more Railroad Remniscenes will be added to this as I go throu the 400 in the book.
Fast Time on the Vandalia Railroad.
The Indianapolis Journal, at some time in the month of May, 1869, made note of the fact that there was then
running on the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad one passenger train which made the trip between the Capital
City and the Prairie City in two hours and five minutes, making four stops on the way, adding that this was the
fastest time made by any regularly scheduled train in the state of Indiana. Nine years later, Monday, November
17, 1878, William Morgan, a passenger engineer on the Vandalia Railroad, took his train through from Indianapolis
to Terre Haute in one hour and thirty minutes, including eight, stops of three minutes each, which consumed twenty-four
minutes of the time, covering the intervening seventy-three miles in sixty-six minutes. This was the fastest run
ever made on this road up to that time. The run made in 1869, counting out twelve minutes for the four stops, was
at the rate of a mile in a minute and a half, while that of 1878 was at the rate of more than a mile per minute.
All former records were again broken February I, 1907, when the St. Louis Limited ran from Indianapolis to Terre
Haute in seventy-five minutes, observing five slow orders and counting the time for getting under way and slowing
up at the respective terminals. The distance being seventy-three miles, the speed on this run equalled a mile and
a quarter per minute.
The railroad from. Terre Haute to Indianapolis by way of Staunton, Brazil, Knightsville and Harmony, which was
the first to cross Clay county territory, is known to the public by three different names-the Terre Haute &
Richmond, the Terre Haute & Indianapolis, and the Vandalia. While this triplicate naming does not give rise,
practically, to any inconvenience, it does admit of explanation, to clear up possible confusion. This line of road
was originally chartered as the Terre Haute & Richmond by an act of the legislature, January 27, 1847, to cross
the state from Terre Haute to Richmond. The company incorporated proceeded to construct the west end-between Terre
Haute and Indianapolis -but nothing was done on the east end. In February, 1851, a meeting was held by the directors
of the road, at Centerville, when it was agreed that the road as originally projected should be divided, the west
end to be known as the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad and the east end as the Central Indiana Railroad,
the former to be the legal successor to the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad and to own the line then being
constructed and completed between Terre Haute and Indianapolis. From this voluntary procedure on the part of the
company as originally incorporated it is clearly seen that there is not now, nor, in fact, has there been since
1851, any such railroad as the Terre Haute & Richmond, neither in operation nor construction, in the state
of Indiana. Correctly speaking, then, this line of railroad is the Terre Haute & Indianapolis. But it is also
properly named the Vandalia, for the reason that it is a part of the combined system known by this name, just as
the Indianapolis & St. Louisa (I. & St. L.), crossing the county by way of Carbon, is known as the Big
Four, it being an integral part of that gigantic system of which the four cities, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago,
St. Louis, are the centers of transportation and traffic.
Railroad service on the Brazil branch of the Evansville & Indianapolis line, between Clay City and Brazil,
was established in the fall of 1887, when the passenger run northward was made at an early hour in the morning
and the return trip southward at a late hour in the evening. For some months after the going into effect of this
service the terminal delivery at Brazil was made at the Vandalia station, until connection was made direct between
the South branch and the Chicago road, by the crossing of the Tandalia tracks, when the delivery from the south
was made at the west Main street station. The sunning of the train was then in charge of Conductor "Dad"
Deer, Engineer William Yelton, and Fireman Clark Leedham. On Friday evening, the 11th of November, of the year
already named, having gone out from the Vandalia station on the usual time, with thirteen persons aboard (including
the operating crew), running at the rate of eighteen or twenty miles an hour, the train was derailed and thrown
down an embankment, two and a half miles south of Brazil, at the flag station known as "Stave Track."
The weather was cool and dry. In 'the front end of the coach, near by the red-hot stove, stood a can of several
gallons of oil in transit, the contents of which were ignited by the upsetting of the stove, the can being in close
proximity, and the flames were at once communicated to the coach, which burned like tinder and was soon enveloped,
the flames flashing rapidly toward the rear end. In the precipitation, the coach lying upon its side, the back
door had been so wrenched that it could not be opened. Frantic from the situation confronting them, several of
the passengers broke out one or more windows overhead and made their escape in that way, while several others,
by vigorous kicking and other means, broke down the door, all aboard of the coach escaping with their lives, several
of them slightly injured by scratches, bruises and sprains. Within less than fifteen minutes after the coach was
vacated all its combustible parts were consumed, only the iron-ribbed skeleton left.
More will be added when I get to them.