Interurban remnant in Kendallville

A few weeks ago I posted something about the former Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railway. It was originally planned to be a 70-mile railway, but was never completely finished. Quite common for many interurban lines. Big dreams crashed into a sea of reality. Shown is another remnant of the Toledo & Chicago Interurban. There was a powerhouse and car barn near what is now East Noble High School in Kendallville. If you look closely, you can see part of the foundation for the powerhouse and car barn. A powerhouse, as the name implies, was a source of providing electricity to power the interurban cars. Depending on the length of the line, there was typically more than one of these along the line. I’m not sure if there was more than one for the Toledo & Chicago. A car barn was a place to store the interurban cars and also to do needed maintenance work on the cars. It would be easy to overlook this remnant unless you knew exactly where to look. But it is a reminder of the past and a mode of transportation that was important, but short lived.


Foundation for powerhouse and car barn in Kendallville.

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Former Mt. Pleasant Church near Claypool

A church sitting in a rural area with a cemetery next to it used to be much more common. Although many of the cemeteries are still in use, many of the churches have either closed or been torn down. Shown is the former Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Clay Township, just off State Road 15 and north of Claypool in Kosciusko County. More specifically, the building is located on County Road 550 South. This brick structure was built in 1914, though two other churches sat on the same site prior to that. One was a hewn log building and the other a frame structure. Mt. Pleasant remained a church until closing in June 1993 so it had quite a long stretch of service. The building is privately owned now and still stands. The cemetery next to it is still used and is maintained by the Clay Township Trustee. I am not sure where the name Mt. Pleasant comes from, though it is somewhat of a hilly area. The terrain is noticeably different than it is in northern Kosciusko County.


Former Mt. Pleasant Church near Claypool.

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Former Auer’s gas station in Syracuse

I’m old enough to remember when you pulled into a gas station, someone came out and pumped your gas and cleaned your windshield. With a few exceptions scattered around, those days are long gone. Shown in the photo is the former Auer’s Auto Supply building in Syracuse, Kosciusko County. It is on Main Street in the downtown area. Originally it was known as Auer’s Friendly Service, an apt name for the business. John Auer purchased the station a few years after World War II with his son, Nelson. John had worked at the station before he and his son bought it. What started as pumping gas and changing tires evolved into a full line of auto parts by the late 1950s or early 1960s and that is when the name of the station was changed. Auer’s had a very well known wrecker service and often responded to wrecks, for one example, on nearby U.S. Highway 6. The business was a community hub, too, or a gathering place. The building still stands and is used now for a business. But it still has the look of an older gas station. The Auers sold the station in the 1970s and it has changed ownership a few times since then.


Former gas station in Syracuse.

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Remnant of interurban in Kendallville

The Toledo and Chicago Interurban Railway was incorporated in 1903. It was originally intended to be a 70-mile long inter-city electric railway from Goshen to the Ohio state line. It was near the geographic center of a group of interurban lines being built and connected end-to-end with the the goal of providing interurban service from Toledo, Ohio, to Chicago. But what ended up happening was financial constraints permitted only the Fort Wayne Division to be built, a total of 42 miles of track. No part of the east-west mainline from Goshen to Ohio was ever built. This was quite common. Many interurban lines were never finished and some were never even started. Shown in the photo is a remnant of a concrete abutment for a bridge crossing the Bixler Lake Ditch in Kendallville, Noble County. It is one of a few remnants still visible for this electric railway line. Thanks to Craig Berndt’s book about the Toledo and Chicago Interurban Railway for providing the information I needed. I will post more remnant photos of this line in the coming weeks.


Interurban bridge remnant in Kendallville.

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House originally a hotel in Leesburg

The small, unincorporated town of Leesburg in Kosciusko County has some interesting historical buildings still standing. It is also one of the few towns with brick streets still in place. One of the oldest remaining buildings is this house on Van Buren Street, which is a main drag in town. Admittedly this is not the best quality photo, but I did the best I could at the time. Apparently this building is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the application to be placed on the register, the building was originally built as a hotel in about 1865. It is of the Greek Revival style and was altered on the inside and with a front porch and rear addition around 1910. Hardboard siding was added in the 1930s or 1940s. A hotel would have likely garnered some good business at one time in Leesburg. The old Big Four Railroad (now Norfolk Southern) had a depot in Leesburg just a couple of blocks or so to the east. Passengers needing a place to stay overnight could get off at the depot and even walk to the hotel. And there was also the Winona Interurban Railway on the other side of the town and roughly the same distance away. Today the building is a house reminding us of the past of Leesburg.


Former hotel building in Leesburg.

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Dunkard Brethren Church dates to 1920s

Nestled in among what is now a neighborhood with several houses along both sides of Greene Road is the Goshen Dunkard Brethren Church. The church was organized by a group of 15 members Nov. 30, 1926. They held services at the Bashor Chapel nearby until their new church was ready. The new church on Greene Road, north of Clinton Street, was finished in 1928. Some people came to the Dunkard church from a church that had organized in Fairview, Ind., about 40 miles away. Interest waned and the church disorganized, so some members left and joined the Goshen congregation. As I recall, the Dunkard church also had some connection to the West Goshen Church of the Brethren. It may have been a split from the West Goshen church. In 1928, there would have been fewer houses and more farmland along this stretch of Greene Road. It did not start fully developing until later, probably in the 1950s or so when the town started growing to the west. The Dunkard church is still an active congregation today. There is also some type of a concrete marker in front of the church closer to the sidewalk I would be curious to know what it is.


Dunkard church on Greene Road in Goshen.

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Benton Spillway in Elkhart County

Any thorough or in-depth study of local history should involve waterways or something associated with a body of water. Early settlers, and also the Native Americans, migrated to areas near a river, creek or stream. In Elkhart County the Elkhart River attracted many early settlers. Eventually the power of water was harnessed to do much good. One example is the Benton Spillway, now part of the River Preserve County Park. It is near County Road 31 and also near the small community of Benton in Elkhart County. It was part of a system involving a dam and canal. Later a hydroelectric plant was built in the Baintertown area. It shut down in 1969 and the plant, canal, dam and 1,000 acres were donated to Elkhart County Parks in 1970 and the River Preserve was created. Shown in the photo is a remnant of what was possibly a ditch or culvert of some type. No water flows through here any longer, but surely it once did. The photo was taken while visiting the Gathering of Five Medals annual event. This is a nice place to take a walk and just relax for a while. A reminder of a time when water’s power was harnessed differently.


Benton Spillway area in Elkhart County.

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Old railway crossed CR 450E

I want to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. My post today is another trace of the former Syracuse-Milford Railway. As a reminder this was a short-lived railroad line running only between Syracuse and Milford in Kosciusko County. It was formed in the early 1900s and was abandoned by about 1923. The purpose of the railway was to haul marl dug out of Waubee and Syracuse lakes. Connections could then be made on the Syracuse end with the B & O Railroad and on the Milford end with the Big Four Railroad. The total length of the line was only 6 or 7 miles. It’s interesting there are traces of the line still remaining after more than 90 years. The photo shows where it crossed County Road 450 East near Syracuse. You can see in the photo a slight elevation in the terrain. I confirmed the location on a map dated 1914 for Kosciusko County. There are very few photos still in circulation that were taken of the railway when it was still in existence. Most of the ones I’ve seen show the locomotive used by the railway.


Trace of Syracuse-Milford Railway near Syracuse.

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Reminder of old Pennsylvania Railroad

This may be the first time I’ve ever posted something on Local Remnants on Christmas Day. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I’m thankful for those who read my blog and have an interest in local history. I feel it is important to preserve history. Shown in the photo is an etching on a railroad bridge across U.S. Highway 40 in Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, on the east side of the city. The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of the most famous railroad lines ever. In its prime, it employed as many workers, if not more, than some major companies do today. I noticed this etching when visiting the area last year. I thought it odd it would still be there considering the Pennsylvania RR has not owned this line for many years and it is still an active line today. Before the Pennsylvania owned the line, it was known as the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad at one time. The line stretched from Cincinnati to Chicago after other railroad lines were acquired. The Pennsylvania acquired part of this line, from Hamilton, Ohio, to Richmond, in about 1886. Eventually they sold it and today Norfolk Southern Railroad operates the line.


Old Pennsylvania Railroad line in Richmond, Indiana.

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Old mill building still standing in Leesburg

One of the most common structures associated with agriculture is the grain elevator or mill. A few of the older mills remain standing, such as this one in Leesburg, Kosciusko County, known as the Old Leesburg Mill. I’m not sure exactly when it was built because I saw one source say 1899, while another says 1905. Regardless of which one is correct, the building has stood for easily more than 100 years. When originally built, farmers brought their grain to the mill to have it ground into feed or for storage. Of course in the late 1800s or early 1900s they would have come by wagons. The old mill is located close to the railroad tracks off Van Buren Street in Leesburg. It is probably no accident the mill was built close to the tracks. They likely would have used the railroad to ship grain, though I’m not sure there was ever a railroad siding for this mill. There was another elevator not far to the south and also by the railroad tracks. It was demolished a year or two ago. I do know at one time the same family owned both mills. But I don’t know for how long. Note also in the photo you can barely see some of the foundation of the train depot that once stood in Leesburg. Recently the old mill property was de-annexed from Leesburg and the plan is to convert it into a combination of a restaurant and brewery.


Old Leesburg Mill in Kosciusko County.

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