Hoosier Dusty Files - May 24, 1919 Out Of Control Interurban UTC Car Roars Into Noblesville Town Square
|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
A terrible accident occurred in downtown Noblesville on May 24, 1919 when an out of control Union Traction of Indiana car overturns. The car crushed ten cars, killing one small boy and injuring twenty-three others.
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 track age 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.
Union Traction Company
The Union Traction Company conducted a test between Anderson and Alexandria on December 23, 1897 and began operations on January 1, 1898. Many consider this the first interurban line in Indiana. The system grew to comprise 410 miles of interurban track and forty-four miles of streetcar tracks operating in Anderson, Elwood, Marion and Muncie. The company began a decline in the mid 1920's. It survived bankruptcy and was absorbed by the Indiana Railroad in 1930.
Portions of this article excerpted from the author's book:
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, Markers & Museums - South East Edition
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning