M.P. A59.6 - 3rd Subdivision - MN

 

Michigan City, founded in 1830 was a principal traffic interchange. Named for the Michigan Road for which is the northern terminal. When built it was the most important north-south highway in Indiana.

Michigan City Harbor, circa 1900. This picture shows the run through freight house. It also shows the Michigan Central depot to the right side of the photo. Between Trail Creek and the Monon freight house was the Michigan Central shops complex. Photo was most likely taken from on top of the Hoosier Slide sand dune.

"Once Indiana's most famous landmark, Hoosier Slide was a huge sand dune bordering the west side of Trail Creek where it entered Lake Michigan. At one time it was nearly 200 feet tall, mantled with trees. Cow paths marked its slopes and people picnicked upon its crest. With the development of Michigan City, the timber was cut for building construction and the sand began to blow, sometimes blanketing the main business district of the town on Front Street, which nestled near its base.

Climbing Hoosier Slide was very popular in the late 1800's with the excursionist crowds who arrived in town by boat and train from Chicago and other cities. The summit, where weddings were sometimes held, afforded an excellent view of the vast lumberyards which then covered the Washington Park area.

When it was discovered that the clean sands of Hoosier Slide were useful for glass making, the huge dune began to be mined away. Dock workers loaded the sand into railroad cars with shovel and wheelbarrow to be shipped to glass makers in the U. S. and Mexico. Much of the sand also went to Chicago in the 1890's as fill for Jackson Park and for the Illinois Central RR right-of-way. Over a period of 30 years, from about 1890 to 1920, 13 1/2 million tons of sand were shipped from Hoosier Slide until the great dune was leveled and , chances are, little, if any, of it was moved via the Monon. NIPSCO acquired the site for use as a generating plant in the late 1920's." - Courtesy of Portable LaPorte County , Copyright 1978 Michigan City Public Library-

Photo Right: Looking towards the southeast from on top of the Hoosier Slide. Unknown date. Monon Freight House and Michigan Central depot pictured. -Photo courtesy Stewart Michard-

 

  

"Hoosier Slide" Dates of picture unknown. Left: Picture from Michigan City News-Dispatch. Photo is looking west from Franklin Street towards Michigan Central depot. Right: Another view of the Hoosier Slide. Looking west from Michigan City harbor. During the mining and excavation of the huge dune, trees, tools and even houses were uncovered. (Indiana State Library photo.)

More images of the Hoosier Slide can be found on this new page.

Michigan Central depot, circa 1870. Monon freight house is to the right side of the picture. Mike Fleming Collection.

 

 

 

Michigan City harbor was the terminal for passenger and freight steamers until the 1920's and ended forever during the depression of the 30's. Unsuccessful attempts were made to secure a U.S. Navy installation for Michigan City. The city still has close to 100 manufacturing plants. Until 1945 Michigan City was the home to one of the Smith Brothers Cough drop factories. Between 1852 and 1970 the Haskell-Barker Car Manufacturing company, later Pullman-Standard, was the city's largest employer.

Pullman Standard Plant, circa 1970's. Exact date unknown. Photo from the Michigan City News-Dispatch.

 

 

 

 

"The importance of this factory to Michigan City's economy can be seen from the size of the site. Makers of railroad cars, the firm was begun in 1852 by three men from New York. In 1855, John Barker, an established Michigan City grain dealer, joined the firm which then became the Haskell-Barker Car Company. In 1869, John H. Barker took his father's place in the firm where his use of ruthless business techniques and the importation of labor from Turkey, Syria and Poland caused the company to expand rapidly. Haskell-Barker was employing 500 men and producing 1,000 freight cars a year by 1879.

In the early 1900's the industry was the most complete factory for the construction of freight cars in the United States, manufacturing 10,000 cars annually. The Michigan City plant also employed the largest number of workers of any Indiana manufacturing firm. More than 3,500 men worked in the car shops, earning $12 for 72-hour work week. Many west side homes were painted boxcar red or refrigerator car yellow. Haskell-Barker was purchased by Pullman-Standard in 1922. During WW II Pullman-Standard manufactured sleeper cars for Allied troops. Labor troubles and other problems forced the factory to close in the 1970's. In 1973 most of the 100 acre plant burned. " - Courtesy of Portable LaPorte County , Copyright 1978 Michigan City Public Library-

Much of the property where the plant once sat is now Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall. The area north of U.S. Highway 12 has been completely redeveloped. Today's emphasis is on summertime recreational boating and fishing. Casino gambling has become a popular attraction with the opening of the Blue Chip Casino and hotel.

  

Left: Pullman Standard 2002. Office building which survived the 1973 fire. Looking at facade from Wabash Street. Right: Office building. Looking east from outlet mall parking lot.

Michigan City street scene, 1897. I believe this is looking south down Franklin Street.

 

 

 

 

(Right) Former Michigan Central Depot, circa 2002. South facade of building. "This now abandoned structure was the third depot of the Michigan Central. The original depot , built in the 1850's, was located on the opposite side of the tracks. It was in front of that depot that the funeral train bearing the body of Abraham Lincoln stopped at 8:25 A.M. on May 1, 1865. The train halted under a 35 foot memorial arch which had been constructed over the tracks. The people of Michigan City were able to enter the funeral car to pay their last respects to the great man before the train continued on to Chicago and eventually Springfield, Illinois. Current Amtrak Depot is to the north of this structure. Looking to the northeast."- Courtesy of Portable LaPorte County , Copyright 1978 Michigan City Public Library-

 

  

Left and Right: While researching something else, I came upon these pictures. This building is at 920 Franklin Avenue. This was formerly a Valentine Diner. Valentine Diners began their nearly 40 year career in Wichita, Kansas. An idea born of the Great Depression. They were constructed as eight-to-ten-seat diners that one or two people could operate. In an industry where nearly all major diner manufacturers were on the East Coast, the Kansas creation managed to ship its little pre-fabs all across the United States. Valentines could be found along major highways to attract travelers, in industrial areas to attract workers, and in small towns where they might be one of the only restaurants available. The term "diner" is said to derive from "dining car," and in concept it was meant to offer the type of service that came from the old restaurants on wheels. This diner is said to have opened in 1956. It has been gutted of the diner fixtures and is now a barber shop.

 

Michigan Central tracks. This picture of a New York Central passenger shows what it looked like in 1966. Some of the bricks from the old platforms are still visible west of Franklin Street. Photo by Jerry Appleman, courtesy of Jerry's Railroad Photo Archives.

 

 

 

 

Michigan Central depot. Taken from Amtrak platform looking west. The railroads, along with the harbor, once played a major part in the economic activity of the town. Now only the tracks and the small depot remain as evidence of their prominence in our past.

 

 

 

"The grain elevator at the harbor was built by Cargill, Inc., in 1956. For a time the company shipped out tens of thousands of tons of soybeans by large commercial ships. Grain ships, along with those transporting salt to be used on highways during the winter, were the last large commercial vessels to use the Michigan City harbor."- Courtesy of Portable LaPorte County , Copyright 1978 Michigan City Public Library-

  

Left: Downtown view. Run through freight depot is to the left of the picture. In 2002, Matey’s Restaurant now occupies the spot. There are still tracks on the north side of the restaurant. The foundation of the lumber yard building, being serviced by the BL2 in the photo, still remains. Overgrown with trees and weeds, but it is still there. Tracks are still south of the depot. (Monon Railroad Technical Historical Society photo.) Right: Color picture, same view. John Strombeck/ Mike Fleming Collection

  

Left: Aerial photo of the Freight House, circa 1960's. Right: Monon Freight House and Cargill Elevator. -Stewart Michard Photographs-

Brand new BK Root Beer Stand south of the freight house on Franklin Street, 1965. -Stewart Michard Photograph-

Old tracks running westbound behind Matey's. These tracks once ran to the north of the run through freight depot. The north wall of the freight house would be where the building is currently. Former Michigan Central right of way is to the right. NIPSCO's generating station is in the background.

 

 

 

Old tracks running westbound towards old Lincoln Yard. Picture taken from south side of Michigan Central depot. Foundation of lumber yard lumber storage building is off to the left. Lincoln Yard was the interchange point between the Monon and South Shore.

 

 

 

 

Same tracks westbound towards old Lincoln Yard. Michigan Central curves south to the left. Lincoln Yard is beyond the trees in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

RS2 crew getting on board at Michigan City at Franklin Street and the run through depot. Exact year unknown, however, since the RS carries the number 24, it is prior to 1965, when they were rebuilt and numbered in the 50's. -MRHTS Photo Archives Collection-

Famous "run through" freight station east of Franklin Street, date unknown. (MRRTHS photo)

 

 

 

 

Another view of freight station. Picture taken sometime during the 1960's, exact date unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

And yet another view. Picture taken sometime during the 1960's, exact date unknown. The building had a very unique quality to it. A favorite with Monon photographers as well as railfans in general. Kevin Ruble photo.

 

 

 

The south side of the freight house at Michigan City, circa 1960's.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Two more looks at the freight house, circa 1960's. Left: The east wall of the freight house. Right: Another photo of the west wall.

Alco #407 working the Michigan City Branch at the freight house. Exact date unknown.

 

 

 

 

Local motive power sits at the Michigan City freight house.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Urban renewal about to take place. 1970, a shot of the south wall of the freight house just prior to the start of the demolition. Right: And the walls come tumbling down. A sad day for the Monon. -Stewart Michard Photographs-

 

  

Left: Monon F3 #64B sitting west of Franklin Street, circa 1951. The run through freight house is in the background on the left of the photo. Sandy Goodrick photo. Right: BL2 #35 working the Michigan City line, August 1962. John Strombeck photo.

August 1962. Switching at Michigan City, near the Pullman Plant.

 

 

 

 

Switching at Michigan City. Exact date unknown. This location is somewhere in the Trail Creek area around Route 12 and US 35. On the building in the background is the company name, Blocksom. The buildings are still there, just south of the new Highway 12 bridge west of the Blue Chip casino. These industries were off the tracks that once ran to and through Pioneer Lumber. Some of the tracks still exist.

 

 

Craig Zeni sent in this picture of F3 #111, teamed with a BL2 at the freight house in Michigan City, April 19, 1963. Thanks for the contribution Craig. Keep them coming.

 

 

 

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