M.P. 282.1 - 5th Subdivision - Sa

Home of the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society's

World Headquarters

The county seat of Washington County, Salem was founded in 1814. Within a few years, the town was booming. A courthouse had been built surrounded by homes and businesses that formed the town’s square. Enterprising residents of the county grew crops, operated tanneries and mills, with all the products being hauled north seven miles to Millport where goods were placed on flatboats and sent down the Muscatatuck and White rivers to southern markets. It was a slow and dangerous process. Boats sank, thieves stole products, and if the goods did make it to market, those returning home with meager earnings were often waylaid by thugs.

This aerial photo of downtown Salem taken in 1975 shows the courthouse in the center. In the foreground is Smith Cabinet Company, at one time the area's largest employer and the Monon's biggest customer in Washington County. -Courtesy Cecil Smith.-

Prominent in the history of the Monon Railroad, Salem was the birthplace of the New Albany and Salem Railroad. In the spring of 1847 James Brooks and six associates, Henry B. Shields, W.C. DePauw, Samuel Reid, John Gordon, V.C. Campbell and John S. Davis organized the New Albany and Salem Railroad. Brooks intention in 1851 was to build from New Albany to Lake Michigan, but he chose the name New Albany to Salem out of a desire to appear conservative in his ambitions and not frighten investors with a plan that might appear to big in scale. In January 1851, the first train arrived in Salem, greeted by 5,000 people who had gathered for this great event. As a shrill whistle was heard from east of town, bands played, bells rang and cannons boomed as the crowd shouted, “Here she comes! Here she comes!”

 

The Washington County courthouse is one of the crown jewels among Indiana courthouses. It was built in 1888 and continues to Circuit Court and several county offices. -Courtesy Cecil Smith-

 

 

 

 

 

Among the significant railroad events in Salem’s history was the burning by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his men of the railroad station and box cars and the destruction of tracks. The raiders rode into town July 10, 1863, and went directly to the depot where they anticipated getting a strong box filled with money and valuables. The agent, knowing they were coming, removed everything of value and hid it under a house two blocks from the depot. He then filled the strong box with tools. You can imagine that Morgan and his men were not happy when they broke open the box and found tools. Today, that strong box is one of many railroad-related historic items on display at The Depot Railroad Museum at the John Hay Center in Salem. The museum commemorates Salem’s role in the organizing of the railroad and is the World Headquarters of the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society, Inc.

The Depot At The John Hay Center , Salem, Indiana. Stop by for a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Monon Caboose 81402 is a featured attraction at The Depot railroad museum in Salem. A wooden caboose, it was built in 1929. -Courtesy Cecil Smith-

 

 

 

Salem is well known among Abraham Lincoln historians because it was here that John Milton Hay was born October 8, 1838. Hay became personal secretary to President Lincoln and served as U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. The small house where Hay was born was built in 1824 as a school. It is part of the John Hay Center and is located just two doors north of The Depot. The Hay Center also includes a pioneer village and the three-story Stevens Memorial Museum, which is filled with historic artifacts from Washington and surrounding counties, many collected by the Washington County Historical Society more than a century ago. The museum also houses an extensive genealogical library that draws researchers from throughout the Midwest.

 

John Hay, personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln, was born in this house in 1838. It is now part of Salem's John Hay Center. -Courtesy Cecil Smith-

 

 

 

Salem prospered over the years, thanks in part to the railroad. The area became known for its wood products. Smith Cabinet Company became the county’s largest employer, shipping television and radio cabinets nationwide. Later, its Child Craft juvenile furniture division shipped products to customers world wide. The O.P. Link Handle Company became the largest producer in the world of wood handles for tools. It is headquartered in Salem, but has plants in other states. Smith Cabinet and the Link company were the Monon’s largest customers in Washington County.

At one time there were eight stations in the Washington County: Pekin, Farabee, Harristown (Norris), Salem, Hitchcock, Smedley, Campbellsburg and Saltillo. Salem, Pekin and Campbellsburg were the primary stations and the last to be in operation.

A prominent Salem resident, Lee Sinclair, banker and industrialist, built and operated the famous West Baden Springs Hotel. That hotel and another at neighboring French lick, made the French Lick branch a valuable acquisition for the Monon. Salem is well-known among race fans for its half-mile, high-banked oval, the Salem Speedway, which opened in 1947. Many drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 got their start at Salem. The speedway draws large crowds for sprint and stock car races.

Today, CSX and Canadian Pacific trains continue to roll through Washington County along the route of the New Albany & Salem Rail Road. Memories of the NA&S and the Monon are kept alive through exhibits and a large model railroad at The Depot, which is a replica of the Monon station that served Salem from 1909 until it was closed in 1973 and demolished in 1982.


Photos Courtesy The Depot Museum

 

Left and Right: The Monon depot at Salem, Indiana. Circa 1910.

 

 

Salem Depot, circa 1909.

 

 

 

 

  

Left and Right: Passenger train wreck at Salem, 1900.

  

Two views of the Salem depot. -Dick Fontaine Photographs-

 

Left: Northbound freight passing the depot, circa 1971. Right: Another picture of the depot, circa 1971. -Both photos Cecil J. Smith-

Northbound Train #6 pulling away from the Salem Depot, 1961.

 

 

 

 

Black and Gold on the south end, 1961. Monon F3 207 on the lead as Train #6 leaves Salem.

 

 

 

 

By 1964 almost all the passenger cars have been repainted in the black and gold scheme. Once again 207 pulls the northbound Train #6 leaving Salem.

 

 

 

 

  

Crowd scenes on the last passenger trains to stop at Salem, 1967. -Geof Burns Collection-

  

North of Salem. Left: FM H-15-44 #45 and 46 pull local freight north (railroad north) of Salem, December 1960. Right: F unit #62A on the point of a freight north of Salem, January 1961.

Another great action shot along the mainline near Salem. The year is 1971 and this freight is headed northbound.

 

 

 

 

RS2's 28 and 24 sit at the Salem Depot, October 5, 1963. The local would normally reach Salem by mid-day and chances are the crew was eating in a nearby beanary.

 

 

 

 

Pictured is a local that has cleared the mainline to switch some industries in Salem, September 12, 1964. At one time there were eleven industries in Salem and they generated almost 1,200 carloads a year. The local crew could spend up to two hours a day switching at Salem.

 

 

 

Bad day at Salem. The local crew had some problems spotting some cars. Train #6 arrived in time to help the crew inspect the derailed cars.

 

 

 

 

Salem 2004

  

Former location of the Salem depot, circa 2004. Left: The white CSX building in the center of the picture now stands where the old depot once was located. Right: Remnants of the track that once ran to the backside of the depot are still visable.

 

Looking along the mainline towards Fogg siding, Pekin, Bordon and eventually Louisville. I am standing on what once was the passenger platform.

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Childcraft Industries. Looking along the mainline towards the depot. Right: Looking towards Louisville, same location by Childcraft.

MP 284.0 5th Subdivision -

 

Train wreck at Fogg, Locomotive 441 pictured, no date listed.

 

 

 

 

This accident occured July 13, 1947 when the Monon dumped three new diesels into a field after flooding on Blue River washed out the ballast under the tracks. It occurred at what was then the south end of Fogg passing track east of (railroad south) of Salem.

 

 

 

  

Left and Right: Damaged F units due to the Blue River Flood, July 13, 1947 -The Depot Museum Collection-

Looking at the north end of Fogg Siding. -Dick Fontaine Photograph, MRHST Archives-

 

 

 

 

 

  

Fogg Siding 2003. Left: CN Kentucky Derby Special at Fogg. Right: Waiting on the siding for a northbound CSX freight. Also pictured is retired Monon/L&N/CSX engineer/trainmaster Richard Cantwell of Borden.

 

  

Left and Right: CN Derby Special waiting at Fogg Siding for a CSX freight.

Old foundry building at Fogg. According to John Campbell, this building has always been known as the Fogg Foundry. We hope to post additional information on this building and location soon.

Fogg Siding 2005

  

Left: Looking to the RR north from the south end of Fogg Siding. Right: Closer view of the bridge on the passing siding. The mainline is to the right.

Looking RR south from the grade crossing at the south end of Fogg siding.

 

 

 

 

 

MP 286.7 5th Subdivision -

One of those forgotten locations. Harristown was platted July 18, 1850 by Thomas M. Harris. The town was named after him. The Post Office was established in 1851. The railroad station was named Norris, after the first agent Thomas B. Norris. This was done to avoid confusion with Harrisburg, although there was no Harrisburg on the Monon.

Harristown/ Norris depot. Exact date unknown. Courtesy Cecil Smith, from the Depot Collection, Salem Depot Museum, Salem, Indiana.

Northbound freight at Harristown, 1971.

 

 

 

 

 

Grade crossing at Norris, circa 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Another look from the crossing. Tracks make a sweeping curve. Right: Old ice house, or other type of structure close to the former mainline at Norris.

Long distance view of the curve at Norris. A few houses remain. Thanks to John Campbell BMIA for the recent photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

MP 291.5 5th Subdivision -

The Post Office was first established here and was named Forresters Station, with Alfred Farabee as postmaster, on August 1856. The name was changed to Farrabee's Station in 1859. The possessive "s" was dropped on November 1882. The Post Office ceased operation in 1934.

The depot at Farrabee. This building was a grocery store, post office and the train station. The front porch of the store (platform) extended out to the tracks.

 

 


Farrabee 2005

 

 

The crossing at Farrabee.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Looking RR north along the mainline. Right: Looking toward the RR south in the general area where the depot once was located.


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