MP 50.2 1st Subdivision -

Between Lowell and Shelby there once was a station, called Grassmere. At one time a car body depot sat on the west side of the tracks, at the 50.2 mile mark. The stop disappeared of the railroad timetable between 1906 and 1908. In 1919-1920 at Grassmere, an oil well was drilled on the Patchett farm. Many dollars were invested in this well and much work was done, but it, was not a paying venture. The well was plugged to keep the gases from escaping, and according to locals, the big pipe can still be seen. There was also another well drilled nearby in 1921, but it also was unsuccessful. On my visit, I did not attempt to locate this old pipe.

Bridge over Brown Ditch. Looking east from Monon Road and 221st Street. The former Grassmere depot would be just north of the bridge between the road and the tracks. No foundation remains.

 

 

 

West 231 Street crossing, north of town. Picture taken from east of the crossing.

 

 

 

 

 

West 231 Street crossing. Picture taken from east of the crossing looking south towards the river.

 

 

 

 

M.P. 52.6 - 1st Subdivision - By

Shelby was organized and platted in 1886. It was named for William R. Shelby, President of the Lake Agricultural Company. A combination depot once sat in the north east quadrant of the junction, shared by both roads. The depot was closed in 1964. The seed company still occupies the same north east quadrant. The junction was automated in 1961. Whiteco Outdoor Advertising began in 1935 under Dean White in Shelby, Indiana serving Holiday Inn with directional signs. The building remains to this date, owned by another graphics company.

  

Left: Downtown Shelby, early 1900's. This image is titled as Main Street. Right: Shelby Post Office, circa 1910.

Postcard of the Hotel Doty, Shelby, Indiana. Exact date unknown. This building at one time was also known as the Dickey Sanitarium. Founded by James Dickey in the late 1890's, the sanitarium's motto was, "Save the Drunkard and Rob the Devil." The Sanitarium also advertised first-class accommodations for only $5.00 per week, hot and cold baths in connection, also first-class barber service, as well as a supply of musical instruments and many rare literary works for the enjoyment of the patients.

 

 

View of Shelby, 1908. The photographer was more than likely on top of the elevator. The building closest is the Shelby Post Office. You are looking to the north.

 

 

 

Shelby's $10,000.00 school. The year is 1914. The school served the community until the 1970's.

The Kankakee River flood of 1908. In this image you are looking due south. It was taken from either the roof of Sirois Hotel or elevator. The railroad tracks pictured are those of the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, or 3-I the east-west line that crossed the Monon. Although blurry, up towards the right corner of the picture it looks like a steam engine and train are northbound on the Monon.

 

 

  

More images from the 1908 flood. Left: This picture is looking southwest. Pictured is the water tank on the Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad (Monon) that was south of the crossing with the Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, or 3-I. The flood waters were all the way up to the 3-I right of way. Right: The photographer was standing on Shelby Road looking north towards town. In the distance there is a boxcar on the 3-I tracks. The larger building on the right side of the image, I believe was one of the hotels Shelby once boasted.

  

Left: Local residents boating on the flood waters. Main Street is the street on the east side of town. Note the railroad crossing sign in the upper left corner of the photo. This location is south of the 3-I tracks. Right: Shot of the same area but showing the crossing and some of the houses.

  

Left: Another look at what I suspect is one of the Shelby hotels. Just the size of the building suggests this was once a hotel. Right: Flood waters surround the family home.

  

NEW 08-18-2008 Left: 1908 flood. You are looking east along the NYC Kankakee Belt. When this photo was taken the railroad was known as the Illinois, Indiana and Iowa railroad, or 3-I. The fairly new combination depot is pictured to the left. The depot was built in 1905. The tracks of the Monon run left to right in this photo. Note lunchroom across from the depot. Right: Isolated close up of the lunchroom and hotel, south of the NYC tracks. -Photos courtesy of Marc Buhrmester-

Downtown Shelby, late 1940's early 1950's. The third building from the right side of the photo, the concrete block looking building, was the White Sign Company, later White Advertising and finally Whiteco. Photo courtesy David Runyon, used with his permission.

 

 

NEW 02-08-2011 Southbound Hoosier, Train #11 makes a stop at Shelby. Exact date is unknown, although a good assumption would be the late 40's early 1950's. -Greg Jancosek Collection-

 

 

 

 

 

 


Old White Sign Company building, circa 2003. Quite a change from the picture above. Whiteco out grew Shelby.

 

"In August of 1902, reports of the possibility of oil in the Kankakee River Valley at Water Valley (Shelby), focused attention on the small community. The project had been rushed through, with a force of experts working both day and night. Saturday, August 5, 1902, W.A. Saxton, from the Empire and American Glycerine Co. of Bluffton, Indiana, arrived with two hundred and fifty quarts of nitro glycerine for the purpose of shooting the well at a depth of one thousand feet below the surface.

  

Left: Oil well somewhere in the Kankakee River area. Exact location and date unknown. Right: This well location is easy to identify. This well would be along the Kankakee River and Monon Railroad tracks, pictured. It was on the northwest bank of the river where Shady Shores is today. The area, north and south of the river is better known as Water Valley.

The concussion was felt for twenty miles in all directions, and those who were fortunate enough to be within viewing distance saw a sight they have remembered all their lives. One eyewitness wrote: "The rock, oil, water, and other matter was forced upward through the casing of the well to a height of several hundred feet, and, falling like a fountain, was an unusual sight!" The oil was plainly visible floating down the Kankakee River. Many wells were drilled in the Kankakee Valley, but none were big enough producers." -Pioneer History, Oil In The Kankakee Valley-, Richard Schmal, June 27, 1984, Lowell Tribune, Lowell Tribune, July 28, 1982, Lowell Tribune.-

March 7, 1959. Monon local, with BL2 36 in the lead waits at the siding north of the diamond in Shelby. The local is waiting on passenger train #11 to pass. Richard Baldwin photo.

Downtown Shelby. Former crossing with the New York Central. Looking towards the southwest. This was the location of the former depot which served both the New York Central and the Monon. Interchange tracks ran from east of the junction on the New York Central to north along the Monon. All auxiliary tracks have been removed.

 

 

 

 

Shelby Indiana depot, circa late 1940's early 1950's. The Monon Railroad and New York Central shared the depot in Shelby. Look closely at the photo. On The New York Central side the depot paint appears to be worn, while the Monon side looks freshly painted. According to David Runyon, who's father Karl was the depot agent for many years, the Monon took better care of their side than the bigger New York Central. Courtesy of David Runyon.

The original sign that hung on the Monon side of the Shelby depot. It was found at an antique market and now hangs in David Runyon's home. Karl Runyon was the last Monon depot agent at Shelby. The depot closed in 1964.

 

 

 

 


Inside the Shelby depot. Left: Station Agent Karl Runyon sitting at the desk inside the depot. The railroad tracks in the photo is the Monon mainline Right: Another photo of Mr. Runyon at work. The desk in the picture sat against the south wall of the depot, which was on the New York Central side. Photos courtesy of David Runyon.

Two more looks at the Shelby depot. Left: circa 1973. The former Shelby Monon/ NYC depot, July 1973. The run down structure was torn down soon after this picture was taken. John Strombeck photo. Right: circa 1969. The depot is obvious need of repairs. John Fuller photo.

  

Left Above: Looking north along the west side of the depot. Right Above: Looking at the south wall, which ran along the NYC. Left Below: Nice long shot of the depot, looking toward the northwest from St. Road 55. Right Below: Another shot of the west side of the depot looking to the southeast along the mainline.

  

 

 


Shelby crossing. Left: Looking towards the north from the crossing at W 224th Place. Right: Crossing and mainline south. At one time there was a passing siding which ran west of the mainline from the north of the diamond, ending south of Tully Ditch to the north.

Shelby action, 2003. Northbound Amtrak Cardinal on its way to Chicago. This bad boy whizzed by me kicking up quite a cloud of dust.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Central action at Shelby Shelby was an active interchange with the New York Central. An NYC F-unit is approaching the diamond from the west. Unknown date of picture. Courtesy of David Runyon.

 

 

 

 

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