Trolley Power Station
The old trolley station located at 904 E. 30th St. is currently called the Trolley Central Mall. As several companies tried to wrest control of the trolleys from their opponents, they fought over the Trolley Power Station. The building has also seen many other occupants, including a church, called the Old Power House Church, a general store known as C. C. Shrout, and a seller of used furniture. Currently, the building is the site of a thrift store known as Trolley Central Mall, named after the trolley station of yore.
The Trolley Lines
The Marion Street Railway was the first owner of the trolley station. It was started in the year, 1889, with only a few mule cars in its service. At the south end of town, the railway company had lines leading to the Veterans Administration. It also had a connection at the train station where the Nickel Plate and Pennsylvania railroads crossed. Only two years later in 1891, they started electric service. They were then capable of moving passengers at tremendous speeds, nearly a mile a minute. This, however, did not help them very much because that very same year, competing companies rushed to the scene and Marion Street Railway ran its first electric trolley (Ogle).
Another railway company to start was called the Queen City Electric Railway. Though it was officially begun in early 1891, they failed to complete construction of the tracks until late 1892, nearly two years later. After going out of business to Marion City Railway in 1895, the company was sold at auction to the Marion City Street Railway Company, which had sent out two people to bid, and opened the auction at $30,000 dollars. The auctioneer pronounced the bid onto a silent crowd of spectators. There were no other bids; the two men sent by the Marion City Street Railway Company were the only ones there (Ogle).
Marion Transit Railway was the last local trolley company in Marion. In 1899 it received franchises and started service the next January with a single line that went south to Marion College. The reason it started was because there were complaints about the service of the Union Traction Company. After a brief struggle, Union Traction proved victorious by purchasing the Marion Transit Railway in September of 1891. Union Traction, a few days later, reorganized its staff and most of the stockholders of the old Marion Transit were put in charge of the Union Traction subsidiary until they closed it down in 1903 (Ogle).
In the early 1900’s interurban companies bought out the locals. They dominated the trolley scene from 1903 to 1933. The interurban companies did not, however, offer better services, they merely had more finances to beat any of the local companies in price wars. The last company to keep the 13 miles of track was the Marion Railways, Incorporated and they only lasted from 1933 to 1947. At last, in the year of 1947, the trolley corporation sadly could not maintain financial stability to keep the streetcars running, so the trolleys were replaced with buses (Ogle).
Old Power House Church
From approximately 1948 to 1955 the building was called the Old Power House Church, and was in control after the trolley station. The church, which was named after the trolley station, was lively like many of the churches of that time, full of sincere and devout worshipers of God. One of these members was Nellie Burns the mother of Joy Shivers, now a secretary of McCulloch Middle School. Nellie had labored only one child into the world, Joy, who almost definitely got her name by being Nellie’s joy of her life. After about eight years of use as a church, the Old Power House Church finally moved to become the 29th Street Assembly of God, which still exists today (Shivers).
C. C. Shrout general store used the building from around 1957 to the early 60’s. Debbie Kennedy remembers it as a place with”... lots of yummy candies to eat”. The store was much like any other general store; it sold milk, bread, and other daily necessities of life, and, of course, lots of candy. The store didn’t last long, and the trolley station was unoccupied for a while, until a furniture store decided to try its luck (Shivers).
Used Furniture Store
Around 1970 for approximately 7-10 years, the trolley station was occupied by a furniture store. The furniture store sold used furniture at a discounted price, and it also repaired and glossed furniture from your own home. Joy remembers this because she had purchased an old rocking chair there fore her living room. After the furniture home went out of business around 1975, the trolley station was unoccupied for an extended amount of time. “My mother told me not to go there”, commented Joy. It was said that people of the rougher sort used the building during this time of non-use (Shivers).
Trolley Central Mall
In the year 2000, after years of vacancy, Donna Blinn decided that she wanted to go into business, and that business involved the trolley station. “I had outgrown my home with clothing,” Donna promptly stated. “It was time to quit, or start a business.” She then set about transforming the building into a suitable place for a store, gathering all manners of clothing and other oddities, including candles, floral designs, and dolls. “I just can’t quit accumulating,” Blinn said. “I can’t resist a bargain. I don’t think there is a new thing in my house.” After getting all the stuff from her home into the trolley station, she decided that she could use some help with the store. She gathered three people into her service, Madonna Hightower, Susan Ancil, and Lucille Blinn. Madonna Hightower controls Design by Marie and keeps it stocked, Susan Ancil heads Perennial Herbs and Flowers, and Lucille Blinn leads Kandle Kreations, keeping it stocked with many different kinds of candles and scents. Proprietor Donna Blinn herself operates Denim and Lace: Nearly New Clothing with all sorts of different styles of shirts and pants, including flannel shirts, T-shirts, dresses, blue jeans, and dress slacks. Finally, after many days of preparation and gathering of crafts and people, she moved in to create her dazzling display of arts and crafts. Donna referred to her new store as the “alternative mall,” meaning that it is an alternative to malls filled with expensive mass-produced items to affordable hand crafted items such as candles. Donna later said that she has great plans for the future of the Trolley Central Mall and intends to include new features and crafts like pottery, vintage clothes, baskets, home accessories and woodcrafts (Chen).
If someone were to look at the old and battered brick building with a shadow of foreboding of an old trolley station, that person would probably find it hard to believe that it could have been so many things. Among these were a trolley station that was competed over by several companies, a church of many Christian followers, a furniture store where people could buy used furniture or repair their own old furniture, and a general store where a little girl went to buy her sweets.
- Chen, Laurie. “All Aboard for the Trolley Central Mall.” Editorial. Marion Chronicle 11 November 2000.
- Ogle, Chris. “Overview of Trolley Companies in Marion.” 11 November 2000. <http://www.marion.lib.in.us/history/trolleys/timeline2.html>
- Shivers, Joy. Personal interview. 11 November 2000.
This article was written by Adam Blinn and submitted on January 12, 2001 for Mr. Lakes’ and Mr. Munn’s classes at Marion High School.