I once heard that it is not what you don’t know that gets you into the most trouble. It is what you know that isn’t so. I must confess that earlier in my recounting the story of the squiggly lines I reported that the standard gauge for inter-urban tracks was 4′ 8 1/2″ and that standard rail gauge was 5′ 2″. I was wrong. A Google search yields that the current railroad track gauge is 4’ 8 1/2” all across the U. S (as demonstrated below) with the exception of one line that runs only in Pennsylvania on 5’2” track. Now I feel better.
It is possible to look at squiggly lines from the ground and from way above as seen here from Google Earth. You will note the parallel lines on S 500 W which do not occur on 550 S. One could surmise several things from such studies. But surmise is not proof and that is the tale of the squiggly lines.
I was talking to a 91 year old Boone native about his life in Boone County and his memory of the Inter-urban trains.
He related, “Yes, I remember those old inter-urban track lines. We were in High school and there were these two girls…..” Blame it on the girls, right? We were taking one of them home and she lived on the first road south of 32. The tracks to Advance crossed the road about a half mile south. There was a slight rise to the grade where the tracks crossed and if you were going too fast you would go airborne. This time the girl who lived down the road suggested that we try it. I was not driving and I don’t remember who was but I was on the passenger side. She kept saying go faster, go faster and the guy driving did. We hit that rise and sure enough we went sailing. We hit the ground on the other side, ran into the ditch and hit the fence line. By the time we stopped we had taken out about 50 feet of fence. We had to crawl under the car and untangle all of that mess. Once we got out we drove off and I have not been down that road since.”
Well, I drove down that road. It is now asphalt covered and there are no tracks or squiggly lines. But the electric power lines still cross the road right where the track lines occur on old maps of Boone County. The rise apparently was graded down when the road was paved or when the tracks were removed across the farm fields.
Another long term resident who has since moved, Buren Spaulding, related to me that, “If you walked back there along those power lines you might still find some bricks with the Traction Company name on them.”
I will wait to walk across muddy plowed fields until some of the mud has dried.