We know that Lebanon was a hub in the Interurban rail and had a trolley system to aid in moving goods and people more easily. We know that the cars were essentially operated by electric motors and received their power be attaching to an energized line which ran overhead.
The public accommodation began to surge in the late 1800’s and the first tracks were laid in Lebanon in 1902. The first cars began to run in 1903.
Local newspaper accounts made much-to-do and “everybody” turned out for the events.
It is easy to get involved in the detail of the interurban and trolley systems. Essentially it was a trolley in town and interurban in the country. The tracks and carriages were the same and cars were outfitted according to the task—haul passengers or haul livestock/freight.
However there was a large distinction between the lightweight rail interurban and the long haul railroad. It began from the ground up. The roadbed was more substantial for the railroad; the tracks were heavier and spaced wider apart(5’2” vs. 4’8”). The track was limited in rise per mile and the radius of a curve. A railroad could not turn at a street corner but the trolley could and did as evidenced by the intersection of Lebanon and South Streets or this Boone County turn at 50 North and 300 West.
It is here that he Idea of the squiggly lines comes into better focus.
Consulting the maps of the Indianapolis Northwestern Traction Co. one will find that the line from Lebanon to Crawfordsville ran out of Lebanon along, now, Ind. 32 and continued west on what is now called County road 50 North until it reached the corner and then followed what is now 300 West for about ¾ of a mile to the South
And the squiggly lines follow that route before they suddenly stop. At his point the Traction roadbed turned west and ran an almost straight line West to Crawfordsville where it becomes what is presently named (and give me the drum roll) Traction Street.
Although we know where the Traction lines have been we can’t trace the “squiggly” lines across the farm land. However, as we trace the interurban rail lines we learn more about transportation In Central Indiana, Boone County, Lebanon and the small towns surrounding it.
There was a perceived need and enterprising citizens came together, put up the money and proceeded to fill the need…..until a different solution came along.
There is more to the story … look for it.
Photo above courtesy Lebanon Pubic Library (Interurban tracks, Lebanon, IN)