Trolleys of Marion
- 1 Local Street Car Companies
- 2 Interurban Electric Railways
- 3 Credits
Local Street Car Companies
Marion was one of the first communities in Indiana to have a public transportation system. As early as 1889, the first street car company was created. In those glorious but primitive days, the cars were pulled by mules or horses, but in the following years several companies sprung up and started offering electric service. The times changed, however, when Union Traction Company purchased the last local street car company, Marion City Railway Company, in 1899.
When customers became dissatisfied with the service that Union Traction provided with its street cars, (later in 1899) Marion Transit Railway was created.
The competition was fierce, however, and Marion Transit went out of business a few years later. Union Traction and then other Interurban Companies established lines to and within Marion. For many years they dominated the street car industry in Marion until street cars became unprofitable. Then they sold all of the street cars and streetcar tracks in Marion to some local business men. They formed Marion Railways, Inc. in 1933. The street cars enjoyed a period of prosperity and popularity until they were given up for busses in 1947.
Marion Electric Street Railway
In later years, they added a line to service the eastern side of town and a branch on the VA root that went south on Washington to 34th street. They also extended their only east-bound rail down Lincoln Boulevard
In 1891, they started electric service. They were then capable of moving passengers at tremendous speeds, nearly a mile a minute(see Electric). The improved service did not, however, help the company in the long run. Soon competing companies sprang up, as early as 1891, the very same year that Marion Street Railway ran its first electric trolley (see 1892).
Queen City Electric Railway Company
It is notable that Russel B. Harrison was president of the company, while, at the same time, his father was president of the country.
Marion City Railway Company
Queen City Electric enjoyed a monopoly until Union Traction company bought it out in 1899.
Marion Transit Railway
Then, a few months later, Union Traction started selling tickets for a penny on their streetcars going to Marion College. Marion Transit opened a line to the Veterans Hospital in October, but three days before service began, Union Traction started selling penny tickets on their line to the VA, as well.
For years, the price of a street car ride had been a nickel. Union Traction knew that Marion transit had no hopes of beating that price, and that they would loose too many of their customers to stay in business for long. In September of 1891, Union Traction purchased Marion Transit Railway. They reorganized the company a few days later, and most of the stock holders of the old Marion Transit were put in charge of the Union Traction subsidiary until they closed it down in 1903.
Marion Railways, Incorporated
Marion Railways was the last trolley line in Marion. When the last interurban left Marion, it left 14 miles of tracks in Marion, as well as the line to Gas City. The tracks and power lines in Marion were purchased for a low rate by three business men who wanted to keep the streetcars running.
Though Marion was one of the earliest towns to have street cars, it was well known for being one of the last towns to keep them running. Rail fans were attracted from all across the country to ride on the Street cars, but, sadly, Marion Railways could no longer afford to maintain the rails, so the trolleys were replaced with busses in 1947.
Interurban Electric Railways
What was an interurban?
The interurban electric railways allowed people to ride electric trains between larger towns. The trolley service extended beyond the city limits of Marion, Gas City, and other nearby towns, but these were just local lines that used the same cars as the trolleys within Marion. The interurban trains were much larger and more powerful. they were intended to carry people long distances across a vast network of tracks that covered most of Indiana by the mid 1820s.
When the interurban companies bought out the local trolley companies during the early 1900s, they kept using the same rails and cars to offer local service as the local companies had been using for years. They didn't offer superior service, they merely had more resources with which they could defeat the locals in price wars.
Other Rail Roads
The interurban railways and the trains were important to the trolleys in Marion because much of the streetcars' business was taking people to and from the train and interurban stations. The interurban electric railroads were more trouble for the Marion-based street cars than they were beneficial. They were the fiercest competitors in the struggle to provide transportation within Marion. They had much more money than the smaller, local companies. They dominated the trolley scene from 1903 to 1933. This thirty year stretch was longer than any of the local companies lasted. Marion-based companies only operated for a total of twenty-eight years--split evenly in half so that the first fourteen years was before the interurban took over, and the other half was after they left.
Created by Ben Ogle