M.P. 44.8 - 1st Subdivision - Ow
Click on images to enlarge.
Courtesy Ken Weller, MRRHTS.
Lowell, Indiana is my hometown. The former Monon mainline still runs through it, although it is now part of the CSX system. Most of the line remains, however, there are some bygone places. These places, at least for me, bring back memories, good and bad.
Throughout my childhood, for some strange reason, a whole lot of activity seemed to center around the former Monon, or close to it. Maybe it was due to our family’s close association with the Commercial Avenue, Washington Street area. My Grandfather, John Hepp , operated an establishment called Hepp’s Tavern, next to the Monon depot. On the lawn north of the Legion Post Home, a circa 1880 hotel building once stood. Through the years many other businesses used the building, including the Ciega Hotel, Tanner's Place and Grandfather's tavern. The building was sold and demolished in 1963. After the old building and land were sold to a Crown Point firm by the American Legion Post 101, the land was landscaped and a flagpole placed in the center. The pole, moved from a site closer to the Legion building, was originally dedicated to the memory of Edward M. Berg, a World War I veteran. Eventually, the park was re-dedicated to all World War I Veterans. The Town of Lowell recently created another park, officially named "Legion Park", on the former location of Hepp’s Tavern. Grandfather established his business in 1931 and in the early 1960's the business was sold to my father, Edward Kepshire. Dad built the new building on the north side of Washington Street and moved the business in 1964, when the old building was sold and torn down. Today the business is known as the Side Track Saloon
The Grand Opening of Kep's Tavern was held in January of 1965. Some of my fondest memories are of the tavern. During the summer, when us kids were on vacation, I would help Dad open up the place. Cleaning glasses, sweeping or doing whatever Dad asked. Many mornings I would stand outside and watch as the Monon freight trains came rumbling past. When the first customers wandered in, it was time for this kid to head home, or to Grandpa's. September of 1967, the business was sold to Norm Jahnke, thus ending 36 years of the tavern business for the Hepp/ Kepshire Tavern. Listening to Mom talk about the tavern, both Hepp's and Kep's, it sounds like it was a favorite watering hole for Monon maintenance of way workers, and railroad men while in Lowell.
Still captures from the video. Left and Right: View from the cab of a northbound passenger train slowing to a stop at Lowell, 1947 or 1948. The wooden depot, destroyed by the 1952 wreck is to the right. I apologize for the poor quality of the captures.
Left and Center: Original Lowell depot. -MRHTS Photo Archives- This is the depot that was leveled and burnt during the 1952 Train Wreck. -Jim Baker Photograph- Right: The remains of the depot the morning after the accident. The building was leveled and burnt to a crisp. -Lake County Sheriffs Department-
Left, Center and Right: The modern brick depot that replaced the one destroyed in 1952. This depot opened in 1953. -MRHTS Photo Archives Collection-
Lowell, Indiana, date unknown. Taken from passenger platform looking south towards Globe Industries. Depot was built in 1953 to replace one destroyed by the 1952 Lowell Monon wreck . Picture courtesy of Kevin Ruble.
The Monon figured so prominently in my childhood. Be it hanging out with Dad at Kep's Tavern , wasting time and our money Labor Day weekend at the carnival at the Legion Grounds , playing "combat" or just knocking around, somehow we always managed to play in and around the tracks. In the 1960’s, besides the spy craze kids played "combat" or army, if you like. Armed with Mattel toy guns, water guns or just plain sticks, we created fictitious missions to rid the world of the bad guys. Countless assaults were made on Lowell Feed and Grain , Globe Industries, Lowell depot and the cattle bridge north of town. I am positive that Mr. Cripe, the Lowell Stationmaster, or Mr. Holley, of Lowell Feed and Grain, never realized that they were under "attack" so many times. The neighborhood army always came out victorious. Failure was not in our vocabulary. We always accomplished our missions. In those days it was okay to play army, cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers. Times have changes, being politically correct seems to take all the fun out of growing up.
End of an era. September 30, 1967, the last passenger train on the Monon pay its final visit to Lowell, Indiana. For the town, it was a chance to celebrate. The Fire Department, Lowell High School Band and many of the towns people were on hand. The man with the little girl on his shoulders is my father. Where am I? I don't remember exactly where I was when the train arrived. Maybe on the roof of the depot. Jim Boyd, Railfan Magazine photo.
The Lowell depot, circa 1975. When this photo was taken the Monon was gone, merged into the L&N. -MRHTS Photo Archives Collection-
Lowell Feed and Grain is no more. Most of the elevator building was torn down in 1994. The only remaining part of the elevator is the warehouse. All of the railroad tracks have been removed. There is a part of a rail which is visible in what is now a parking area, however, there is a better than average chance this was the tracks an old caboose sat upon during the 1970's, which was planned as part of the Livery Stable Antique Mall. When you look down the old siding, the rail looks to be headed toward the water tower, not where the elevator spur once was.
Looking west along Commercial and Washington Street at the Monon, circa 1905.
When the Indianapolis, Delphi, and Chicago Railroad Company. was formed, plans were made to construct a railroad line north to Chicago. In 1874 they contracted with Melvin Halsted of Lowell to grade 20 miles between Lowell and Dyer. Halsted invested about $20,000 of his own money, encouraged other investors, and obtained the right-of-way for the proposed line, as well as helping select and survey the route. Some promoters in the Crown Point area were trying to convince the builders to go through their town in a line almost straight north from Shelby, but Halsted used his salesmanship and his wealth to persuade them to curve the line at the Kankakee Valley town and then head northwest to Lowell, running just a block from his 1850 home. Evidently many business owners agreed with Halsted concerning the advantages of the railroad, for with its coming many new business enterprises began along the line. Sidings soon were constructed to serve mills, lumber yards, coal yards, an implement shop, a bulk oil plant, a factory and a stockyard.
1886, pictured is the local milk train loading at Lowell. The bridge pictured was built over the mill race that provided power to Halsted's Mill.
The second grist mill in Lowell. This mill, built in 1868, west of Main Street near Melvin Halsted's home. It was built near Cedar Creek, which provided power to the mill. All the machinery from the first mill was moved to this mill. When it was built, it was one of the largest buildings in Lake County.
Original Monon Depot in Lowell, circa 1890 with Martha Wilder in the foreground and her husband Fred standing on the far right. They often visited their daughter, Mrs. John Schneider at the Cumberland Lodge north of Schneider. The lodge was one of many that once flourished near the Kankakee River.
Northbound train #6 making a stop at Lowell. Date unknown.
Washington Street crossing. Spur to Lowell Feed and Grain went off to the left and curved around behind the buildings and ended at the elevator. Kevin Ruble photo.
Washington Street crossing, another view. Siding ran behind buildings where red automobile sits in this photo. End of the old siding now filled in and overgrown with trees. Kevin Ruble photo.
Lowell, Indiana 2002. Picture take from southwest of depot, looking north. Photo taken beside building that was at one time the Globe Industries Technical Lab. Not sure what it is being used for in 2002.
One of the, looking back on it, really stupid things we used to do was jumping off the roofs of freight cars. For many years the county highway department had a storage area on Charlievoix Street (See photos below. Sand piles would be to the photographer's left in the first two, to his right on the bottom one). There were usually huge pile of sand, rock and rock salt there. When boxcars were spotted along side of these piles, us kids would climb to the top and jump off into the sand. Okay, not very intelligent, but for a growing boy, hey it was fun.
One day, however, while playing our game again, we made the mistake of making so much racket we awoke some maintenance of way workers who had been trying to sleep in the passenger cars we were climbing on. They were not very happy with us. Needless to say us kids bid a hasty retreat. Translation: we all ran like hell. All except Steve. One worker almost caught him on the roof of the passenger car. His quick thinking and reaction time allowed a quick but painful escape from the angry workers. Painful because when he jumped, instead of landing in the soft sand, he overshot and landed head first in rock salt. The pile was smaller, so Steve fell a lot farther than he was used to. Also, being very warm, he was wearing a sleeveless tee shirt. OUCH!
Another bygone section, the passing siding which ran along the east side of the mainline from the depot to just north of Cedar Creek bridge.
Right: Oakley Street crossing 2002 looking north. Passing siding has been removed. Notice the pile of rubble? That rubble is the foundation of the old shed. Now used to store rails and junk.
Left: Oakley Street From another angle, circa 2001. Kevin Ruble photo. Right: Another view of the buildings along east side of Charlevoix Street. Lake County maintained a Garage on what was once called Charlevoix Street, then Globe Drive, now Harding Drive. It was built with a lot of cement blocks and trusses from the old Grand Theatre which once stood at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Clark Streets, now the site of a church. The Grand was first called the Taylor Theatre and was built around 1911 and torn down in 1935. The Theatre boasted 800 seats. Many Lowell residents watched silent movies there in the early 1920's. In my day, sand piles, then later, storage tanks for Cunningham Fuel Oil were directly south of the Hardings building. Kevin Ruble photo. At the turn of the century, 1800's to 1900's another elevator occupied the land. The DuBreuil-Keilman Elevator and Planing Mill. Hint: Look towards the bottom of the page.
Speaking of maintenance sheds and speeders. Somehow, I cannot honestly recall how we found out, or why we found the shed unlocked, but at one time a Fairmont speeder was kept in the shed. What did we do when we found the unlocked shed? Good question. Maybe, just maybe, I may know some kids who "borrowed" the speeder. And maybe, just maybe, these youths were able to figure out how to start the speeder. These same youths, just maybe, were strong enough to pick it up and set it on the passing track. Oh yea, and maybe these same youths figured out how to make it go and took a ride down to the end of the passing track and back again, followed by several more down and back trips. Naturally, I would never be a part to such activity. In any event, the shed and the speeder are long gone. (And the Statutes of Limitations have long since expired.)
View from the cab as a northbound passenger passes a southbound train south of Globe Industries, circa 1947-48. The passing siding started just south of the depot and ran to just north of Cedar Creek. Not indicated but the southbound may be an extra. Image is a capture from a movie. We apologize for the quality.
This is what is left of the passing siding, looking north.
Globe Industries, 1970's. Post L&N merger. Switching at Globe Industries. Picture taken from south of Globe, looking northwest. Picture courtesy of Kevin Ruble.
Globe Manufacturing Company. Globe has been a part of Lowell for many decades. Originally a manufacturer of roofing products and materials, buy the mid-1960's they were making automobile insulation. This photo, circa 1975, shows the plant after several additions. It also shows the former Monon mainline and sidings that served the plant. Globe leased several boxcars from the Monon to ship products. They also received raw material via rail. Your Webmaster worked at Globe for two summers. The plant is now Riter Automotive Products. All of the sidings have been removed. Everything is received and shipped via trucks.
Circa 2002. Globe switch lead. Tracks no longer serve the plant.
Globe Industries, 2002. Picture taken from Oakley Avenue crossing, looking south. Passing siding roadbed still visible.
Left And Right: Crossing Cedar Creek, south of Lowell. This location was a favorite fishing and messing around spot. The old wooden trestle like bridge was replaced with this one. Kevin Ruble photo.
Belshaw Road crossing, looking north. Favorite summer hiking destination, despite the fact that our parents would have killed us if they knew exactly where we hiked to. Kevin Ruble photo.
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