Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Find an old ROW or want to know what the name of that one tower along the EL was? Post any historical questions or comments here. Open to any era from around the Ft Wayne area. Interurbans welcome!

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Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby SylvanLakeJohn » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:00 pm

First of all, I would like to thank Greg for doing such a wonderful job with this site.
Also I am hoping to initiate another discussion on one of my favorite topics, that wild and wacky railroad called the Saint Joseph Valley Railway.
I have one bit of information that I did not know but has been puzzling me for some time. Talked with a local Mongo resident recently and he told me that the pilings that was visible from Indiana 3 across the mill pond had been cut by another local resident, which didnt sit well with many Mongo locals as well as the DNR. Kinda sad to see another landmark of that long gone railroad disappear.
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St Joseph Valley RR

Postby Notch 8 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:26 pm

This is the same RR that also went through Orland Indiana, hard to
believe that the rails of this line have been gone for over 80 years...
Did not leave much behind........which brings me back to MONGO !!!!
Who know anything about the car that was takeen from the Charlie Smith
farm after the passing of Charlie and his wife, part of the house was a car
from I believe an interurban car that was made by some car manufacture
that was from Cincinatti OH. well the Smiths were really old people and I
mean OLD... he man made his money raising produce in the sand in the
fields of Mongo Indiana, and Im hear to tell you when this man made his
money you did it the hard way ! fast forward>>>>
The car today resides at the ITM and you can paste this to your browser
http://www.irm.org/cgi-bin/rsearch.cgi? ... Valley=504

and you can see the car Im talking about, anyhow this family incorporated the car into there house, when they past away the museum got the car, it was siad the car to be in good shape because of being protected from the elements.....there was another car west of South Milford Indiana that has been relocated to other parts.....

Gotta Go
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby fredmcain » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:23 pm

I know this is an old post but I accidently came across this while "Googling" St Joseph Valley Railway at the Topeka Library. I have been interested in this for a long time since at least the mid 1980's after my then girlfriend (and future wife) told me that part of the old roadbed was in her frontyard! I also recently learned of an abandoned bridge over a ditch and gully about 3 - 4 miles west and a little north of LaGrange that a farmer still uses.

Does anybody have any info on this railway of long ago that LaGrange county residents once referred to as "The Valley Line"

Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, Indiana
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby SylvanLakeJohn » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:42 am

Fred,
It truly is one of the most interesting railroads that serviced Northeastern IN. I think you can find some very good information about it from the books "Ghost Railroads of Indiana" and "Railroads of Indiana". You can also do the Google Map between Mongo and Orland and still see where the roadbed went through the Pigeon River state land. In fact this past spring I walked on the old roadbed when looking for mushroons. No mushroons, but worth the walk to be part of the 1900's history of that area
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Howard » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:45 pm

Can you tell us just where this bridge is located? Is it visible from the road?

Something else that is probably not too far from the bridge is a marker and the foundation for the Yoder Station, located on CR200N between 300 & 400W.

A good source of info may be the Lagrange County Historian, if it's the same guy that it was 6-8 years ago when he did a program on the StJV in Lagrange. I can't find his name right now, but he lived in Shipshewana about 4 blocks east in IN-5.
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Notch 8 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:23 am

There was some mention of the St Joe Valley RR in Angola several years ago
when the city was working on a road project on the north side of town, they
found I think a underpass under the road, a loarge void that had to be filled
in and I think this where the tracks crossed or near.
I have often tried to fiqure where the line came into Columbia OH and have
been able to tell, even with Google Earth what an awesome tool looking for
old ROWs.
The depot that still exsist in Lagrange which RR did it serve ? also here is a
pic of the depot in Orland.

Mike @ mp 126 of Gary District
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Orland Depot
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Howard » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:35 pm

The StJV underpass was north of the Fort Wayne-Jackson RR crossing of Wayne Street a short distance, perhaps 100'. Nothing appears to remain of it.

The depot at the north edge of Lagrange was the StJV depot.
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby fredmcain » Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:51 pm

Dear "Sylvan Lake":

Thanks for your response. I wasn't sure if anyone would respond or not! I have the book "The Ghost Railroads..." but not the other book you mentioned. Also, there is a small tidbit of info about it in the back section of "The Electric Interurban Railways in America" by John Due & George Hilton.

When I began dating my future wife, in the mid 1980's, this was a real mystery to me. She told me that "A train went through her front yard" after I'd asked her why they have a gully in their front yard. She had no idea what kind of a train it was so I asked her Dad but he was only able to tell me that the railway was long, long gone when he bought the house in 1960 or thereabouts.

This whole thing wracked my brain since I thought I knew where all the old railways were in the area and I was unaware of anything there. The thought of an interurban dawned on me but I dismissed that too since I had a map of the interurbans of the Midwest and none were indicated in this area. (Later I came to find out that the said map was dated from 1922 - after the "Valley Line" was abandoned!).

I decided that my future inlaws simply had to be mistaken on the matter, and yet, a few old-timers spoke about an old railway they called "The Valley Line". My mystery was solved when I acquired Due's & Hilton's book.

Sulzer's book, "The Ghost Railways of Indiana" has even more info and a few rare photos. As you probably know, there is a long stretch along the south side of the road just east of LaGrange where you can see the roadbed quite well. Some of the newer neighbors are having the old "fill" in their front yards removed which seems like a shame. I guess as time passes more and more signs of the little, short-lived railway from 90+ years ago will disappear forever.

Can anybody think of anything else they can share about this?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, Indiana
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby fredmcain » Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:58 pm

Howard,

What's left of the bridge is located about one to two rail miles east of "Yoder" station. At times the old right-of-way completely disappears through the plowed only to suddenly reappear again at some land mark.

The former land ownder at "Yoder Station", Carl Dinneman (Sp?) erected a landmark depot in the late 1980's or early '90's. I went in there one time and he had some railroad memorabilia inside. Sadly, his little station was destroyed in a tornado in the mid-1990's, I think it was and he did not rebuild it. Carl died a year or so ago.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Notch 8 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:48 pm

I found several pieces of old stick rail in Lagrange County in a fence row that I believe came off the St Joseph Valley it is approx. half the size of 80-90 lb rail the only other place that it could of came from would have been from the marl pits down in Stroh IN but me thinks it from the St Joe Valley RR I never have seen Yoder Station anyone have pictures? What other stations survive ? It would have been a scenic route, Was at Shipshewana today too bad the rails are gone from there as well, the Pumpkin Vine is what I think they called that, what was the construction of that line before it was ripped up ? and was Sturgis on the north end of that line or did it continue further north ? Have you seen the station at Sturgis ? nice ! all the stations were wonderful on the Old Road, too bad they whacked it up ! Does any have any real information of the St Joe Valley RR like whay would have ran on these raild was it steam train self propelled if it was steam what kind of loco's what I have gatheres that this was no heavy built railroad and that is why I connected the light rail that I came across with SJVRR..Gotta go !

Mike

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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby fredmcain » Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:17 pm

Mike,

That's a good post! I was frustrated for years over trying to find info on the "Valley Line". The best info I have found to date is in Elmer Sulzer's Book, "The Ghost Railroads of Indiana". It was out of print for years but was recently reprinted. He has a short chapter devoted to it. While this is the best info, which includes a few very rare photographs, info is still sketchy. But here's the gist of it. The line was conceived to be an interurban line that would connect the two large interurban electric railway systems in Indiana and Ohio by running a direct line from Elkhart to Pioneer, OH where it was to connect with an Ohio interurban there.

The idea was both dreamed up and bankrolled by a multi-millionaire "doctor" name H.E. Bucklin. He tried to build the line as fast as he could and postponed electrification until later. Then the good doctor took ill in late 1917 and was unable to finish the line. All construction ceased at Columbia, OH, a mere (and frustrating) 13 miles shy of Pioneer.

Sulzer states only that "progress was getting made" on the electrification from Bristol and LaGrange. But how far did it actually get? Also, right near the afore mentioned bridge in my earlier post, according to the neighbors there, there once existed a small reservoir with a dam - and they *THINK* it was intended to generate electricity. Could this dam have been intended by Bucklin to supply juice for the Valley Line? Does anybody know? I realize I'm speculating a bit here but so much has been lost through time about this mysterious little railway.

On equipment, they evidently operated a mix of primitive, early internal combustion motor cars, battery cars and steam cars. Even a few locomotive-drawn trains were operated.

The whole effort seems like a terrible tragedy. Rail proponents can only wonder what might have been had Bucklin's efforts succeeded in establishing a through interurban route that could have perhaps even hauled freight from Chicago to Cleveland and perhaps points east. Indeed the whole interurban system in the Midwest could've been strengthened a maybe even lasted a bit longer. But time was growing short, even had he not taken sick. By 1917 the best years of the interurbans were probably already behind them. Their star shone bright but it didn't burn for very long. In a way it's kinda sad. I have always thought what it might have been like if we'd only had a transportation system like Japan or Europe but I guess that's another story.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Michael Meisener » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:51 pm

I have & am willing to make copies of a timetable that was copied from an original. This is from TT #16 08/03/1912. I showed this to Craig Berndt and he was glad to get a copy. I will try to copy this in the next day/two and get this on the web.
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Mark » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:10 pm

"The St. Joseph Valley railway, by Joseph A. Galloway and James J. Buckley"

I have a copy .I Haven't found the copy.
It is available in the St Joe Library in South Bend
as a reference book.

Mark

My legs can't take a hike around Crooked Lake.
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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby Notch 8 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:42 am

There appears to be an old ROW west of Bristol on the south side of St Rd. 120 was this part of the StJVRR ?


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Re: Saint Joseph Valley Railway

Postby fredmcain » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:18 am

Mark,

I'd love to see your book but there is only one thing. I found out while "Googling" for St Joseph Valley Railway that there were actually *TWO* of them that were completely unrelated. There was evidently a short-lived line that ran north from South Bend into Michigan in the 1880's and '90's. This was separate and unrelated to Bucklin's line from Elkhart to Columbia, OH, so you might want to check to see if your book isn't, in fact, about this other line.

Please let me know if your book is indeed about Bucklin's line after all as I would most certainly want a copy. I have had good luck so far finding old, out of print books on Abe's Books.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
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