News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 5, 2013

Historical perspectives: Railroads were models of innovation and growth in Haute

Patrick Newsham
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Railroads have played an important part in the building of our nation and in the history of Terre Haute. It is no small wonder that these amazing machines were turned into children’s toys, as well as models for the more mature train enthusiast.

Currently on display in the Vigo County Historical Museum’s first floor main exhibit room are two American Flyer train sets, one representing Pennsylvania Railroad and the other the New York Central Railroad. Both of these railroad companies, which were rivals, had routes through and made stops in Terre Haute.

The sets were donated to the museum by Roy Waldron, one of the museum’s dedicated volunteers. Roy purchased the sets in 1961 when he worked in the toy department of Levin Bros., a downtown wholesale general merchandise store that was located at Sixth and Ohio streets. The sets on display include: the control box, two cabooses, two empty and two loaded coal cars, a log car, a passenger car, six boxcars, train tracks, a water tower and a crane car. It is quite interesting to see all the details of the train models.

The model train sets are part of a bigger display regarding the history of transportation in Terre Haute.

Chauncey Rose was a major player in bringing rail lines to the area. In 1847 Rose, the principle investor, and other private investors founded the Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad. This railroad, later renamed the Terre Haute and Indianapolis Railroad in 1865, had a depot at 10th Street and Wabash Avenue.

The railroad later became a part of the Pennsylvania line. A photograph of the Penn Freight depot is included in the current display. This exhibit gives a glimpse of the age of rail in Terre Haute and is something that you will not want to miss.

Historical Treasure

•The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through