(Part Two of Two in this Story)
In 1912 the Indianapolis and Louisville Traction Company went into receivership and was reorganized as the Indianapolis and Louisville Traction Railway Company with it’s general offices in Scottsburg. Six Dixie Flyers traveled south to Louisville and six Hoosier Flyers made the trip to Indianapolis daily, each 117-mile trip lasting four hours. By 1914, interurban mileage in Indiana totaled 2,318 with 1229 passenger cars, 363 freight cars and 78 Mail, baggage and express cars.
The City of Scottsburg not only benefited from the passenger and freight service that the interurban supplied but also from the electricity that was generated here. From the June 16, 1917 edition of a local paper, a story with the heading “Electric Lights for Scottsburg Homes,” appeared. An except from the story reads, “The juice will be purchased from the Traction Company. This enterprising company has always shown a deep interest in Scottsburg’s prosperity…”
On March 22, 1919, the Indianapolis and Louisville Traction Railway Company line was leased to Interstate Public Service. Four years later, on January 1, 1923, Interstate bought the I & L properties for $325,000 in cash and the assumption of a mortgage for $846,000 (the original I & L had cost $1,500,000 to build in 1907). Four different railway companies were merged to create the Interstate Public Service Company. Improved service and faster, lighter weight cars came about in 1924. Three sleeper cars were from the American Car and Foundry Company in Jeffersonville. The three cars named “Scottsburg,” “Indianapolis,” and “Louisville,” were placed in regular service on August 24, 1924. A 1925 Interstate timetable showed their schedule as follows: the Indianapolis to Louisville sleeper would leave Indianapolis on the last train out at 11:30 PM; a local which made stops as far south a Scottsburg, where it laid up for the night and then at daybreak, the first car out of Scottsburg, at 5:33 AM, took the sleeper into Louisville arriving at 7:05 AM. The northbound sleeper followed a similar schedule with a layover in Greenwood, Indiana.
In 1928, Midland Utilities, a giant holding company was formed and acquired control of Interstate on January 2, 1929. Several other Indiana electric railway properties were also purchased and were organized to form the Indiana Railroad system on august 1, 1930. Due to excessive financial deficits, the IR petitioned the Public \Service Commission of Indiana in August of 1933 for permission to abandon all service between Louisville and Seymour. The commission withheld action and requested that the line continue operation with all operating losses be assumed by the Public Service Commission.
The depression years of the 1930’s forced passenger fares to be reduced and the traction line lost money. As the automobile and bus industry bean to lure former passengers away, the end of the line, no pun intended, for the traction railroad was imminent. In the spring of 1939, IR again petitioned for abandonment of the Seymour to Louisville line, this time to the Interstate Commerce Commission. The ICC considered that the “continued maintenance and operation of the Louisville line south of Seymour would impose an undue burden upon the applicants and upon the Interstate Commerce.” In August of 1939, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized the Indiana Railroad to abandon operation of its fifty-two-mile interurban line between Seymour and Louisville. The remainder of the line would be scrapped in the 1940s. The last car to run on the Seymour-Louisville line was a Dixie Flyer with motorman Oscar McKinney, a former Scottsburg resident who had served the railroad for nearly 23 years. Wes Hartley of Scottsburg, who threw the first switch that turned on the power at Lake Iola’s powerhouse, for the first car run from Scottsburg in 1907 turned off the current for the last time on October 31, 1939.
The old interurban track ran parallel to and just west of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Sellersburg and Seymour. Old culverts and the Muscatatuck River bridge piers can still be seen and for a time abandoned stations were also noticeable along the way. The right of way through Scottsburg was Bond Street. The old station with its second story window sat at the corner of Bond & McClain Avenue later became the American Legion Hall and was eventually torn down and the Federal Building housing the Scottsburg Post Office would later rest on this site. One-mile north Lake Iola remains. All that can be seen of the powerhouse and the car barns are the foundations. This land around Lake Iola belongs to the City of Scottsburg and has become a favorite park for the residents of this community. An old I & L interurban car that had not met its fate in the scrap heap was tracked down to the Chicago Southshore station in Michigan City, Indiana by the |Scott County Preservation Alliance. The car was donated by Chicago Southshore to the City of Scottsburg to be restored.