M.P. A28.1 - 3st Subdivision - DR

Wilders Junction, November 3, 1971. Looking north across the Erie Junction. John Strombeck photo, courtsey of the MRRHTS.

Wilders Station was established in 1889. The name was shortened to Wilders in 1894. According to a local story, it was named because it was located in the wilderness and may have been given the name of a local family. It has been known as Wilder's Crossing, Wilder's Junction and Wilder's Station. At one time a tavern sat on the west side of the Monon mainline, southwest of the diamond. The old depot once sat on the southwest quardrant of the junction.

  

Left and Right: Two excellent photos of Monon steam power on the Michigan City branch. Photo on left appears as if it was taken north of the crossing with the Erie. Train appears to be northbound. Photos from the Charles Huffer collection, identified as taken at Wilders. Courtsey of Kevin Ruble.

More Monon steam at Wilders. Locomotive # 227, one of the stalwarts of the steam fleet pictured at Wilders in 1937. The 4-8-0 was built in 1899 and remained on the roster until 1946.

 

 

 

 

BL2 #32 on a local freight, working the Michigan City Branch at Wilders. Year is 1956.

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Wilders Junction, March 28, 1977. Another view looking north across the Erie Junction. Tom Rankin photo, courtsey of the MRRHTS. Wilders Junction, March 28, 1977.

 

Looking west along the Erie at Wilders, October 6, 1976. Note cars on the interchange track.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Wilders Junction, date unknown. Photo shows all the railroad buildings in and around the crossing with the Erie. Right: Another great shot of the crossing at Wilders. The caboose is on the Erie mainline. The tracks in the forground are those of the CA&S. The depot is to the left of the caboose. The tower is barely visible between the depot and the caboose. The Monon mainline crossed the Erie by the tower. The building on the right is the freighthouse. Bob Albert photos.

  

Wilders Junction. Left: May 5, 1973. L&N freight moves along the former Monon Michigan City branch. Right: Close up of the same locomotives crossing the diamond heading north to Michigan City. In the lead is L&N 2703, ex Monon 604.

"Wilders was once a town." These words were from Fred Jeffers, who lives in the house closest to the former junction. Just north of County Road 2150S. "Matter of fact, the front part of my house used to be the Wilder's Tavern. Course we have done some remodeling over the years. My parents lived here most of their lives. As a kid, I do remember the old steam engines. We moved back here after they passed away and decided to stay."

Wilders Junction, July 14, 2002. Fred Jeffers residence, formerly Wilders Tavern. Mainline was to the right. Depot once sat behind the house.

 

 

 

 

Wilders Junction, July 14, 2002. Abandoned right of way. Looking to the north from the crossing.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Former Junction. Left: Westbound on Erie from the crossing. The flower bed to the left of the photo, by the white trellis is the foundation of the old depot. Right: Erie mainline, looking east towards 421. An old concrete "outhouse" sat north of the tracks.

Fred was kind enough to give us a guided tour of what was left. Both the Monon and Erie right of ways are still visible. Fred's backyard has claimed most of the Erie right of way to the west of the junction. The rusted Erie signal tower is no longer. Fred said another property owner removed it a while back. Fred then showed off his wife's flower beds, which is the foundation of the old depot. "When we tried to dig it all out, I found another room where they stored coal, along the north foundation wall." he added. "To much trouble to rip out, so we just back filled and planted flowers."

The flower bed. I apologize for the picture quality. The foundation is more pronounced in person. The white line towards the center of the picture is part of the old foundation.

 

 

 

 

Wilders Junction July 2002. Abandoned right of way looking south towards Kankakee River and Riverside.

 

 

 

 

The tour continued with a description of how the old platform started north of County Road 2350S and approximately where it ended along the westbound Erie. He then described an old Erie "outhouse", made of concrete which once sat east of the Monon on the north side of the Erie. "Several years ago a fellow came over and asked what I was going to do with it." Fred continued. Fred gave me the directions to where it was relocated . Told me to make sure and see the old bridge abutments at the Kankakee River, and spoke of how, as a kid, he would jump from the bridge and swim the Kankakee. Naturally Riverside was our next stop.

M.P. A28.1 - 3st Subdivision - DR

 

River scene at Riverside. Date is 1915. Bridge is the original trestle.-Starke County Historical Museum-

 

 

 

 

Bridge building crew. Kankakee River south bank. This is a photo of the building of the original bridge at Riverside. Date of photo unknown. Photo courtsey of the Michigan City Public Library.

 

 

 

 

Northbound local on the Kankakee River bridge at Riverside. Year listed is 1962.

Abandoned right of way, July 2002. County Road 2450S, looking north towards Wilders.

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Looking south along the old Michigan City right of way. The old roadbed now serves as a driveway. Right: Concrete footings for a water tank just off the old right of way, north of the Kankakee River. -Ron Marquardt photographs-

July 2002. Kankakee River, looking north along abandoned right of way. North bank abutment is about 10 yards behind me.

 

 

 

 

The abandoned right of way has been converted into a driveway south of County Road 2450S. Although marked "No Trespassing", Fred advised to drop his name if anyone bothered us. Nobody did and a local homeowner allowed me access to take pictures along north bank the river. The bridge is gone but the concrete abutments north and south of the river remain. There are also old timber pilings at the river's edge, from the original bridge, according to the homeowner we first talked with. After walking a short distance down the right of way to the north bridge abutment, we were greeted by a local couple. "This area was once known as Riverside" they told us. "And when steam engines went away, basically so did Riverside." According to the couple, many of the houses on the west side of the right of way were, at one time, businesses. Time tables list Riverside as early as 1885. They could not elaborate on what type of business or when they ceased operation. From the look of the houses still standing, I would venture a guess that the larger house closest to the right of way was formerly a hotel or tavern, or both. I remember seeing similiar structures along the Kankakee south of Shelby growing up. The Kankakee River area once was host to dozens of hunting clubs and lodges. There was once another club just east of this location. When the river was dredged and straightened, that spelled the end of the great hunting in the area. The area was interesting, bug infested but interested.

July 2002. Kankakee River, looking south across towards the south bank and bridge abutment. According to the owner of the property on the north bank, the house across the river is abandoned.

 

 

 

 

July 2002. Kankakee River, old pilings from original deck and pile trestle. Taken along north bank of the river.

 

 

 

 

Monon Railroad Historical-Technical member and friend of the Bygone Places web site, Lowell Susdorf sent this photo. Taken in the 1980's after the tracks and bridge were removed. Looking south.

 

 

 


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