|A Day in Indiana History - September|
Indianapolis Traction Terminal evolved into what many believed was the largest interurban station in the world when the Union Traction Terminal station opened on September 12, 1904.
The Interurban rail lines of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries provided the first mass transit system connecting the rural areas with the cities. In the era before the automobile and paved highways, the interurban lines provided fast, cheap transportation across not just Indiana, but the nation as well. The interurban railways rose in the late 1880's and reached their prominence by 1925. The rise of the automobile and paved highways started their demise.
An interurban was a rail line that used electricity for power and operated between cities. The 1905 Census definition was "a street railway having more than half its trackage outside municipal limits." this definition separated an interurban from suburban railroads. Indiana State Senator Charles L. Henry coined the term interurban at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 while watching a demonstration railway.
Indianapolis Traction Terminal
The train shed at the terminal was 133 feet by 185 feet long and had nine tracks. A nine-story office building towered over the terminal. The lines using the terminal radiated out from Louisville, Kentucky, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio. At its height in the early Twentiteth Century many experts felt that over 500 cars a day used the station. The rise fo the automobile caused the decline of the interurban trains.
A portion of this article excerpted from the author's book:
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, Markers & Museums - South East Edition