Throwback Thursday: Interurban Rail in the John Martin Smith Collection

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Interurban Car

Usually when you want to visit a nearby town, you get in your car and drive there. But what if you didn’t have to? What if you could just hop on a train?

Believe it or not, this hypothetical railway actually used to exist! Known as the electric interurban, this hybrid between a street car and a passenger train connected towns and cities in the Midwest, offering public transportation where there often was none.

Interurban Bridge Post Card

The cars were powered by electric cables, and followed metal tracks from city to city. Travel was quick, easy, inexpensive—and especially popular in Indiana. By 1909, there were approximately 1800 miles of inter-urban track operating in the state.

Auburn Interurban Map

An interurban line once ran through Auburn, connecting it to Fort Wayne, Waterloo, and Kendallville. It’s also the reason Ensley Avenue is so wide: the interurban used to run right down the middle of the street!

Courthouse Square Interurban

Unfortunately, due to the popularity of automobiles, the lines no longer exist, but you can still see more of the electric interurban by clicking here and searching for “interurban.”


About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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One Response to Throwback Thursday: Interurban Rail in the John Martin Smith Collection

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Auburn Junction in the John Martin Smith Collection | Charlie Chat

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