IN.gov - Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > New Albany and Salem Railroad (The Monon) New Albany and Salem Railroad (The Monon)

New Albany and Salem Railroad (The Monon)New Albany and Salem Railroad (The Monon)

Location: Corner of Bank Street and Culbertson Avenue, New Albany (Floyd County, Indiana)

Installed: 2007 Indiana Historical Bureau, Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, and Floyd County Historical Society.

ID#: 22.2007.2

Text

Side one:

Railroad organized 1847, after years of legislation to provide transportation to move goods and people to and from the state's interior. Completed to Michigan City 1854 when last rail was laid in Putnam County. New Albany's economy expanded with the Railroad's presence starting in 1850s.

Side two:

Fugitive slaves' use of this Railroad in escapes caused regional controversy in the 1850s. Several changes of ownership and name occurred in the 1800s and 1900s. The name officially was changed to the Monon Railroad 1956. Owners sold the facilities in this area in 1990 to private interests.

Keywords

Transportation, Underground Railroad

Annotated Text

Side one:

Railroad organized 1847,(1) after years of legislation(2) to provide transportation to move goods and people to and from the state's interior.(3) Completed to Michigan City 1854 when last rail was laid in Putnam County.(4) New Albany's economy expanded with the Railroad's presence starting in 1850s.(5)

Side two:

Fugitive slaves' use of this Railroad in escapes caused regional controversy in the 1850s.(6) Several changes of ownership and name occurred in the 1800s and 1900s.(7) The name officially was changed to the Monon Railroad 1956.(8) Owners sold the facilities in this area in 1990 to private interests.(9)

Notes:

(1) The first organizational meeting was held July 7, 1847 to elect directors of the New Albany & Salem Rail Road. "New Albany and Salem Railroad, " New Albany Democrat, July 8, 1847 (B050712).

July 31, Governor James Whitcomb signed a proclamation authorizing the charter and incorporation. Frank F. Hargrave, A Pioneer Indiana Railroad (Indianapolis 1932), 22 (B050075).

In 1848, the General Assembly voted to allow this railroad to build to any point in Indiana, from New Albany, as long as it first reached Salem. Local Laws of Indiana, 1848, pp. 456-57 (B050673).

(2) In the first attempts at a New Albany railroad, an act was passed in 1832 incorporating the New Albany, Salem, Indianapolis and Wabash Rail Road Company. In 1834 the New Albany and Jeffersonville Rail Road Company was incorporated. Laws of Indiana, 1832, pp. 214-23 (B050903); General laws of Indiana, 1834, pp. 235-44 (B050759).

These acts ruled that a railroad company may use any county, state or other public road for its route. The Act of 1832 gives destinations of New Albany and Greenville, Salem, Brownstown, Rockford, Columbus, Edinburgh, Franklin, Indianapolis and then the Wabash River (p. 214). Text of 1834 Act only gives destinations of New Albany and Jeffersonville (pp. 239-40). Neither of these acts resulted in construction.

Surveys were ordered in 1834 for a road route. Senate Journal, 1835, p. 115 (B050994). See also, Logan Esarey, A History of Indiana (Indianapolis, reprint 1970), 1:371 (B050767).

In the 1836 Internal Improvements Act passed by the Indiana General Assembly, a survey for either a road or a railroad, whichever proved more feasible, was commissioned for a route from New Albany to Crawfordsville. A survey for a road or railroad, whichever was more feasible, was included as item no. six of eight initial projects listed in the act Laws of Indiana, 1836, p. 8 (B050760).

This Internal Improvement Act was very popular and led to efforts around the state to add roads, railroads, and canals to other areas. The popular assumption was that all of these improvements would pay for themselves and that Indiana would have a great increase in wealth and population. Economic conditions, and other factors caused some projects to fail. For more insight see, Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, 1850 (Indianapolis, 1850), 677 (B050904); Donald F. Carmony, Indiana, 1816-1850: The Pioneer Era (Indianapolis, 1998), 189-99 (B050747); John D. Barnhart and Donald F. Carmony, Indiana: From Frontier to Industrial Commonwealth, Vol. 1, pp. 321-25 (B050898).

In 1842, a law was passed allowing for private companies to take over construction of public works in Indiana, following project failures stemming from the 1836 Act. Laws of Indiana, 1842, pp. 3-21 (B050762).

Following this act, The New Albany and Crawfordsville McAdamized Road was changed, in an 1847 act, to a railroad to be constructed by a private company. Local Laws of Indiana, 1846-1847, pp. 456-57 (B050631).

The completion of the railroad was praised for expanding commerce in Indiana. "Prior to the construction of the New Albany and Salem Railroad, the country between Lafayette and Michigan City was a vast wilderness of prairie. Salem Railroad had done no other good than that of bringing these rich lands into notice and market, that of itself would be of incalculable benefit to the State of Indiana." "The Prairies, " New Albany Daily Ledger, June 9, 1857, p. 2 (B050993).

(3) An early nineteenth century increases in Indiana farm and manufactured goods required an adequate transport system. Carmony, Indiana, 1816-1850, 174-75 (B050747).

In the period of 1834-1836, people considered a railroad only practical when a canal or road was impossible. Esarey, A History of Indiana, 1:372 (B050767).

The rapid growth in Indiana railroads after 1850 fostered "increased trade, agricultural output, industrialization, and urbanization" in New Albany and elsewhere in southern Indiana. Carmony, Indiana, 1816-1850, 361 (B050747).

Four primary circumstances affected the building of a railroad from New Albany to Lake Michigan:

1) The influence of Louisville, which considered New Albany and Jeffersonville as suburbs; and the continuous competition between these three cities and Madison. Victor M. Bogle, "New Albany Within the Shadow of Louisville, " Indiana Magazine of History, 51 (1955), 303-16 (B050842); Jon C. Teaford, Cities of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Midwest (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1994), 14-15 (B050800).

2) The importance of a rail connection with Indianapolis, which the NA & S RR only achieved well after the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. Bogle, "Reaching for the Hinterland, " 145-66 (B050831); Teaford, Cities of the Heartland, 38-39 (B050800).

3) The dependence of the NA & S RR on cross connections with east-west railroads. Bogle, "Reaching for the Hinterland, " 150, 151 (B050831); Teaford, Cities of the Heartland, 38 (B050800).

4) The scarcity of development of the lands in northwest Indiana (B050800); Darrel E. Bigham, "River of Opportunity" in Robert L. Reid, Always a River (Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1991), 150-51 (B050829); "The Prairies, " New Albany Daily Ledger, June 9, 1857, p. 2, c. 1, 2 (B050746); Hargrave, A Pioneer Indiana Railroad, 105, 112 (B050075).

(4) "New Albany & Salem Railroad Completed, " New Albany Tribune, June 27, 1854 (B050046).

In April 1848, the railroad was put under a construction contract. Indiana Gazetteer (Indianapolis, 1849), 33 (B0500060).

In 1849, bid proposals were requested for building a machine shop in New Albany. "Bid Notice, " New Albany Daily Democrat, March 10, 1849 (B050070).

In 1850 and 1851, the NA & S RR was further empowered to raise money. Local Laws of Indiana, 1850, p. 85 (B050764).

By 1852, included on a map of New Albany Railroad was a passenger terminal for the NA & S RR at First (Pearl) and Oak Streets and, to the northeast, a "Machine Shop, Foundry, and Car Manufactory." Sanborn Map of New Albany, 1852 (B050115).

By 1852, the railroad had been completed to the White River in Lawrence County. "Five Years Ago, " New Albany Daily Ledger, May 7, 1852 (B050714).

(5) The mid-nineteenth century economic expansion of New Albany had sparked the desire for a railroad. Victor M. Bogle, "New Albany: Mid-Nineteenth Century Economic Expansion, " Indiana Magazine of History, 53 (June 1957), 128, 130-131 (B050840).

Building steamboats and merchandising “moving from retailing to wholesaling - were large factors in this expansion; wholesaling was in particular due to the railroad. New Albany Daily Ledger, September 17, 1853 (B051018); "Louisville, New Albany, and Chicago Railroad, " New Albany Daily Ledger, October 31, 1860 (B051017); Bogle, "New Albany, " 128, 131, 133 (B050840).

The New Albany newspapers were filled with notices for wholesale dealers, a sign of improved economic trade. New Albany Daily Ledger, January 18, 1851 (B051019); New Albany Daily Ledger, December 11, 1855 (B051022).

Trade in hogs caused the NA & S RR to build special cars to ship animals from the interior to New Albany. New Albany Daily Ledger, October 21, 1853 (B051016); "Louisville, New Albany, and Chicago Railroad, " New Albany Daily Ledger, October 31, 1860 (B051017); Bogle, "New Albany, " 134 (B050840).

New Albany industrialization also expanded in the 1850s, with the machine shops of the NA & S RR playing a large part. The shops of the NA & S RR employed 200 to 300 workers, and maintained, repaired, and built rolling stock and locomotives for the NA & S RR railroad. "Louisville, New Albany, and Chicago Railroad, " New Albany Daily Ledger, October 31, 1860 (B051017); Bogle, "New Albany, " 140-41 (B050840).

By 1855, the railroad expanded its capital of $100, 000 to $6, 000, 000, doing more for New Albany than "any one thousand men in our midst." New Albany Daily Ledger, December 11, 1855 (B051020).

Growing success of its commercial and industrial base led to the 1873 claim that New Albany had become a "Prosperous, Healthy, Beautiful Western City, " with success attributed to the building of the railroad. Cottom, New Albany, Indiana: Location and Natural Advantages (New Albany, 1873) (B050847). Movement of coal by the railroad was promised by July 1873, Ibid., 11, 17 (B050847).

Other commercial and industrial strengths of New Albany were described; this success was attributed directly to the railroad. Ibid. , 24-26 (B050847).

Trade in coal and limestone, as well as passenger traffic helped New Albany and the NA & S RR also prosper in the 1880s. John M. Gresham & Co., Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Floyd  (Chicago, 1889), 91-92; Clifton J. Phillips, Indiana in Transition: The Emergence of an Industrial Commonwealth, 1880-1920 (Indianapolis, 1968), 240 (B050891).

See Phillips, 273-75 for an overall picture of the state's manufacturing.

According to Sanborn Maps (1881-1898), there was still a passenger and freight depot at Pearl and Oak Streets, and a machine shop complex to the northeast, with the addition of a roundhouse. Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1881-1898 (B050116).

6) "The New Albany & Salem Railroad and Runaway Negroes, " Louisville Daily Courier, September 10, 1855 (B050085); "A Run for Freedom, " Louisville Daily Courier, July 6, 1859 (B050107); "Fugitive Slaves Recaptured, " New Albany Daily Ledger, December 3, 1856 (B050086).

It has been recognized that the New Albany & Salem Railroad, headed by an anti-slavery Republican James Brooks, played a strong role in helping slaves reach freedom. Pamela R. Peters, The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana (Jefferson, N.C., 2001), 47-49, 94-98 (B050125).

Indiana's geographic location also played a great part in its importance in the transportation of soldiers and materials for the Civil War, affecting all the north-south railroads. John D. Barnhart, "The Impact of the Civil War on Indiana, " Indiana Magazine of History, 57 (September 1961), 191-92 (B050827); Emma Lou Thornbrough, Indiana in the Civil War Era (Indianapolis, 1965), 337 (B050748).

(7) Financial difficulties forced the railroad into trusteeship in 1858. "Notice, " New York Times, February 13, 1858 (B051058) and Richard S. Simons and Francis H. Parker, Railroads of Indiana (Bloomington, 1997), 130 (B050465).

The N A & S RR was reorganized as the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway in 1869. Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States for 1869-1870 (New York, 1869) (B051049).

On March 10, 1897, the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway was foreclosed and purchased on March 31, 1897, reorganized as Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway. "Railroad to be Sold Today, " New York Times, March 10, 1897 (B051048) and Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States (New York, 1897) (B051040).

This railroad's name officially changed to Monon Railroad on January 11, 1956. Letter, Albert S. Long, Jr., Secretary, Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway Company, January 2, 1956, Indiana Historical Society, Collection M376 Monon Railroad, Box 1, Folder 27 (B051046).

On July 31, 1971, the Monon was sold to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. Letter, W.H. Kendall, President L & N Railroad Company and S.T. Brown, President Monon Railroad to all Monon Railroad Employees, July 15, 1971, Indiana Historical Society, Collection M376 Monon Railroad, Box 1, Folder 27 (B051047).

Louisville and Nashville subsequently became part of CSX Corporation through its subsidiary, Seaboard Coast Line. Seaboard changed its name in that deal to Seaboard System Railroad Inc. "Briefs, " New York Times, December 30, 1982 (B051059) and Simons & Parker, 133 (B050465).

(8) The railroad's name officially changed to Monon Railroad in 1956. Letter, Albert S. Long, Jr., Secretary, Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway Company, January 2, 1956, Indiana Historical Society, Collection M376 Monon Railroad, Box 1, Folder 27 (B051046).

By at least 1882, the name "Monon Route" was used on company publications. Chicago Daily Tribune, November 18, 1882 (B050863); Chicago Daily Tribune, November 17, 1883 (B050865); Local Time Tables, Monon Route, Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway, September 1889. George W. Hilton, Monon Route (Berkeley, Calif., 1978), 51 (B050083) and Victor M. Bogle, "Summary Historical Account of the Monon Railroad" (Kokomo, Ind., 1998), 43-44 (B050843) both have geographical name (township, stream) and Pottawatomie Indian ("swift-running") explanations for the origins of the name Monon.

(9) CSX sold the 6.5-acre site of the former New Albany & Salem Railroad to private interests. Quitclaim Deed, November 16, 1990, CSX Transportation, Inc. to James R. Padgett (B050741).

In 1994, the NA & S RR site and remaining buildings were listed in a potential Northside Industrial Historic District. New Albany Interim Report (Indianapolis, 1994), 46 (B050124).

This site had appeared earlier as part of a possible New Albany Historic District. Floyd County Interim Report (Indianapolis, 1975), 21-23, 28.