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Eel River

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:17 pm
by Wayne Gest
On this day, August 26, 1879, Jay Gould leased the Eel River for the Wabash, to be effective September 1.

That means the Eel River was a mainline railroad for about 21 or 22 years before becoming a minor branch, especially east of Columbia City.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:42 pm
by Bob Durnell
One of the all time great miscalculations in Indiana railroad history was by the forces that sought to cancel Gould's lease of the Eel River. They may have won the battle, but boy did they lose the war.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:11 pm
by Hotbox
It's interesting to contemplate how the Wabash's eventual presence in Ft Wayne might have changed, had Gould continued to operate the Peru to Auburn routing.
Declining importance of Toledo as a destination, what traffic that did remain handled through Montpelier. New Haven to Butler line never gets built. Could very well be that the Huntington District get's the axe.

No GM Plant?

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:35 pm
by Bob Durnell
You bring up some good questions. I could certainly conceive the GM plant being where Steel Dynamics Columbia City is, or somewhere near it. I have mentioned it before, but I am still intrigued by the possibility that if the Wabash had been able to keep the Eel River, South Whitley might have developed into a major terminal for the N&W and later NS. I think the Wabash would have wanted to keep some type of presence in Fort Wayne, but once N&W took over, certainly the Wabash trackage in Allen County would have had a LOT less importance for them. I think you could write an alternate history just about any way you want to and have it be plausible.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:18 am
by Hotbox
Bob Durnell wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:35 pm
I think the Wabash would have wanted to keep some type of presence in Fort Wayne, but once N&W took over, certainly the Wabash trackage in Allen County would have had a LOT less importance for them. I
The thing that immediately occurred to me, assuming Wabash is using the Eel river route when Ft Wayne puts the demand for elevations on the railroads....the Wabby might have been in a position to say "fraid not"


And then, assuming the Huntington district is out of the picture. Does that have an impact upon the abandonment of the Cloverleaf, after N&W takes over?

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:58 am
by Bob Durnell
You know, I have never really gave much thought to the Wabash's role in the elevation project. The history seems to have been written only from a Fort Wayne and a PRR perspective. I have no clue how much the Wabash contributed financially, but if cost was an issue, and considering that this would have been a secondary line, perhaps they would have entered into an agreement to use the PRR tracks between Mike and Fairfield. Were Taylor, Broadway and Thompson Avenue part of the elevation project itself, or were those separate projects? I could see all of those being left at grade level if the tracks were lightly used.

I don't think it would have effected the Cloverleaf in any appreciable way. While the Huntington District as we know it wouldn't exist, most of that traffic from the east could easily have been routed NKP between New Haven and South Whitley, and then continue down the Wabash. I find the whole topic thoroughly fascinating, and I'm not sure there are ANY wrong answers.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:35 am
by Hotbox
Bob Durnell wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:58 am
You know, I have never really gave much thought to the Wabash's role in the elevation project. The history seems to have been written only from a Fort Wayne and a PRR perspective. I have no clue how much the Wabash contributed financially, but if cost was an issue, and considering that this would have been a secondary line, perhaps they would have entered into an agreement to use the PRR tracks between Mike and Fairfield. Were Taylor, Broadway and Thompson Avenue part of the elevation project itself, or were those separate projects?
As I recall it, the railroads were required to bring in all the fill, build the actual raised earth track way, and place the tracks, while the city built the bridges over city streets and covered all related street work.

I recall that the Wabash was included, and the bridges over Fairfield, Taylor and Broadway were included as part of the work, but I also recall that one source that I read made no mention of Thompson ave (nor of college ave, for that matter)

But recall the bridge over the St Mary's river that we discussed in another thread, was built in 1912, the same time the elevation work was built down town, so it's doubtful that the segment at Thompson was left at original grade level.

Perhaps Thompson, like Clinton Street, was dead ended by the work for some time, and those bridges were placed later to open the viaduct?

Not really sure. I do know that considerable cement work was done along Thompson and Scott Avenues to shore up the homes as Thompson itself was a trenched down under the RR

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the way things turned out. A significant part of my boyhood involves knocking along those tracks.
It's just that this thread forced me to recognize how things could have played out much differently.....almost on a whim.

Probably also worthwhile to recognize that I'm operating through the convenience of hindsight. Back in the relevant time periods the relationship between PRR and Wabby was indifferent at best, and at times adversarial.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:30 pm
by Hotbox
The Wabash was in receivership from 1909 to 1916, after George Gould's melt down. So, i'd estimate that they would have relished an opportunity to dodge the cost of the FW elevations.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:30 am
by rrnut282
PRR bought the Wabash, but long after the elevation work.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 11:15 am
by Hotbox
I wonder if PRR was moving bridge traffic from the Eel to the Wabby in the same way that N&W would later move bridge traffic from the Cloverleaf to the Wabby?

Re: Eel River

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:30 am
by Hotbox
It's thought provoking to contemplate how different living in Auburn would be back in the day with this main line passing through it, along with the B&O, and the FW&J.
Did any of those roads have a significant workforce in Auburn? (yards, shops, terminals, etc?)

Re: Eel River

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:35 pm
by Steve Bryan
My guess is not. The Eel River had a roundhouse and yard in Butler and the FW&J had facilities in Fort Wayne. Of course B&O had everything in Garrett.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:03 pm
by D.L.
:D Yea, Steve-that sounds correct. Everything was auto related back then (ACD).

Re: Eel River

Posted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:29 am
by Notch 8
Was there much interchange traffic at Auburn ? Too bad the Eel River didn't survive. I never saw a train on the Eel in Auburn but do remember the crossing in Auburn near the Brown House. I wish I could see a photo of that crossing when it was still in place.

Re: Eel River

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:39 pm
by Wayne Gest
In the summer of 1972, I saw a Penn Central locomotive in Auburn, sitting there, no crew on it. I had no camera, it had to be near the Brown House but I wasn't familiar with the area at the time and I didn't ever go back to Auburn until sometime in the mid-80's.