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The Rise and Fall of the World's Greatest Interurban Railway Center, 1893–1941
Published by: Indiana University Press
In the early twentieth century, an epic battle was waged across America between the interurban railway and the automobile, two technologies that arose at roughly the same time in the late 1890s. Nowhere was this conflict more evident than in the Midwest, and specifically Indiana, where cities of industry such as Indianapolis, Gary, and Terre Haute were growing faster every day. By 1904, Indianapolis had opened the Traction Terminal, which was widely acclaimed to be the largest and most impressive interurban station in the world. Yet, today there is only 90-mile remnant of this one great system still operating within Indiana.
Featuring over 90 illustrations and featuring contemporary accounts and newspaper articles from the period, Electric Indiana is a biographical study of the rise and fall of a onetime important transportation technology that achieved its most impressive development within the Hoosier state.
Introduction: Interurban versus Automobile
1. Memories and the Personal Discovery of Indiana's Interurban Era
2. The Promise of Electricity, The Peril of Gasoline
3. Investor's Dilemma: Interurban or Automobile?
4. Hoosier Hysteria; or, the Interurban Boom Years
5. Gas Belt Prosperity and Indiana's Interurban Pioneers
6. Hugh McGowan, Interurban Empire Builder
7. The Expansive Dozen Years
8. Growing Traffic, Going the Distance
9. Travel by Interurban
10. A Time for Sober Reflection
11. Jitney, the Emergence of an Intrusive Technology
12. Losing Traction, Rising Highway Competition
13. Deadly Delusion: The Comeback that Never Was
Appendix: Who Really Coined the Word "Interurban"?
Suggestions for Further Reading
Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes is author or editor of twenty books, as well as co-author (with Peter Hansen and Don Hofsommer) of Crossroads of a Continent: Missouri Railroads, 1851–-1921. He grew up in Greenfield and Indianapolis, Indiana, and now lives in Missouri. He is Saint Louis Mercantile Library Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where he taught undergraduate and graduate history for exactly fifty years.
"Carlos Schwantes is an historian with a passion for electric railways. This book provides a lively and well-researched study of the Interurban Era in Indiana, a banner traction state. As such he fills a void in the interurban literature. Electric Indiana is a work that general readers and professional and amateur historians can learn from and fully enjoy. "~H. Roger Grant, Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History, Clemson University
"Carlos Schwantes' extensive research focused on the industry leaders is a significant departure from existing literature resulting in considerable new knowledge being published on the rise and fall of the electric interurban railways of Indiana."~Norman Carlson, Managing Editor, First & Fastest.
"With 2,000 miles of interurban track, Indiana led the nation in offering low-cost, efficient public transportation. Carlos Schwantes combines fascinating details with broad analysis to explain the popularity of electric-powered interurbans and the disruption brought by roads, cars, and buses. Beautifully illustrated, Electric Indiana will appeal to scholars, transportation enthusiasts, and the general reader."~James H. Madison, Author of Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana