Southern Indiana Railroad

Bedford Belt Line

Steve Dolzall sent along these images of the Southern Indiana Railroad Bedford Belt's Bedford Shops. The photos are originally from Ray Curl and come to this page courtesy of Bob Bruns and Steve Dolzall. We apologize for the quality of some of these images.

What became the Southern Indiana Railway began as the Evansville and Richmond Railroad which was to build a line from Elnora to Richmond, Indiana. In 1890 the section between Elnora and Westport became operational. The E & R was actually controlled by the Evansville and Terre Haute which provided locomotives and rolling stock. A series of washouts in the Spring of 1897 made the section between Bedford and Westport unusable. In October 1897, John R. Walsh, a Chicago Banker, purchased the E & R and on December 1, 1897 the name was changed to the Southern Indiana Railway. Operations between Bedford and Westport resumed in 1898. By 1900, the Southern Indiana reached Terre Haute and the Indiana/ Illinois state line in 1905. In 1907, the road reached Chicago through the Chicago Southern Railway which Walsh also owned. At the turn of the century, the Southern Indiana had trackage rights over the Big Four from Westport to Greensburg. Around 1905 the Walsh financial empire was hopelessly over extended in part from the cost of construction related to the Indianapolis Extension which would have taken the Southern Indiana into Indianapolis.The Walsh roads went into receivership in 1908. In 1910 the properties of the Southern Indiana, Bedford Belt and Chicago Southern were acquired by the Chicago, Terre Haute, and Southeastern Railway. That railroad in turn was leased by the Milwaukee in 1921 and formally becoming part of the Milwaukee in 1948.  The Bedford Belt Railway, Bedford to Oolitic,  was also built by Walsh and leased to the Southern Indiana in 1898. The Bedford Belt was built to provided rail service for Walsh's Bedford Quarries Company which is credited for laying out the town of Oolitic. The main railroad shops for the Southern Indiana/ Bedford Belt/ Chicago Southern were built by Walsh in Bedford. Express Cars for the Southern Indiana Express Company were also built in Bedford. Besides the railroads and stone empire, Walsh also built a bank in Bedford, formed the Southern Indiana Hotel Company with a 400 room hotel at Indian Springs. In Greene and Sullivan counties he created the Southern Indiana Coal Company. In 1905 two banks in Chicago controlled by Walsh failed. As a result, in 1908 Walsh was sentenced to five years in prison at Leavenworth for miss use of funds. The real impetus for the Bedford Belt and the Southern Indiana was to isolate the Walsh stone empire from what he felt to be unreasonable shipping practices and costs imposed on him by the Monon. 

 

  

Left: overview of the Southern Indiana shops at Bedford circa 1917. Right: This is a yard view. The line in the foreground is the Bedford Belt line to Oolitic. Roundhouse is to right, paint shop is on the left, shops in the background. Pictures are circa 1900-1903.

  

Left: The Southern Indiana Bedford Rounhouse, circa early 1900's. Right: The Southern Indiana Paint Shop.

  

Left: Photo of part of the Southern Indiana Shops building. Note transfer table. Right: A look inside the shops building.

  

Left and Right: More views inside the shops building.

The camera is on "I" Street looking East toward Seymour & Westport. Track curving off toward the left is the connection fro the wye leading to the Yard. Building on the right is the Southern Indiana Bedford Freight House which stood at least into the 1980's. Coal chute is the tall building. -All photos from the Bob Burns Collection, courtesy of Steve Dolzall-

 

 

 

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