|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
The first train from New Albany, Indiana on the Ohio River reached Salem, Indiana. The arrival of the New Albany & Salem Rail Road preceded an economic boon for the town and the first link in a rail line connecting Lake Michigan and the Ohio River.
Platted in 1814 by William Lindley, Lindley's wife suggested the name Salem for the new town at a meeting called to pick a name. The other agreed, and Salem it became. Pioneers crossing the Ohio River had to negotiate deer and buffalo trails to arrive at the growing town. By the 1840's the task of shipping goods into and out of the town had become an arduous task. The roads connecting the town were mud roads, heavily rutted and slow to travel on. In 1847, a group of Salem businessmen proposed a solution. They would build a railroad.
Meeting at Borden
On July 8, 1847, a group of Salem and New Albany businessmen met at Borden, Indiana to discus railroads. Out of this meeting came a plan to build a railroad from the Ohio River at New Albany to Salem. They would call the railroad the New Albany & Salem Rail Road.
New Albany & Salem Rail Road
Construction began in 1847. The rail line reached Borden and Pekin, Indiana in 1850 and Salem in 1851. A crowd of 5,000 people greeted the first train to roll into Salem on January 14, 1851.
On to Lake Michigan
By the time the rail line reached Salem, the men running the line decided that they could take it all the way to Lake Michigan. They completed this line with Michigan City on Lake Michigan in 1854. This rail line went bankrupt in 1858. After several name changes, this line eventually became the Monon Line in 1956.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning