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Vandalia Depot & Culver's Railroads

Articles:

I Remember the Railroads - a look back at Culver's railroad days, by John Houghton

The Rails Hummed Part I and Part II: "The Great Depression and the Changing Face of Culver Transportation" by Culver Academies' archivist Bob Hartman

The Railroad in Culver by Mark Roeder

Railroads (of Marshall County) from Daniel McDonald's History of Marshall County, in PDF or HTML format.

See Also: History of Hibbard (photos of the Nickel Plate depot and trains near Culver)

Images:

The Depot/Train Station

Vandalia Railroad Station

Vandalia Railroad Station (now Culver Town Park), 1916 postcard.

"Depot, Culver, Ind.

Undated early postcard with caption, "Depot, Culver, Ind."

R.R. Station, Lake Maxinkuckee

"R.R. Station, Lake Maxinkuckee," depicted on this early postcard (exact date unknown) in an unusual photo.

Vandalia Railroad Grounds

Vandalia Railroad Grounds, an 1895 image from the days when Culver was "Marmont." This image comes from an Agricultural Fair program provided by the Culver Antiquarian & Historical Society. The whole program may be seen here.

Vandalia Railroad Depot, Culver, Ind.

"Vandalia Railroad Depot, Culver, Ind." depicted on this postcard, circa 1908-1910.

The Depot

One of several large still photos (not postcards) from John Cleveland's personal collection, this undated shot is of an angle and view not often seen. The fact that the Depot is the more recent brick one and not the earlier wooden structure, dates this photo sometime after September of 1925, when the brick Depot opened.

Depot Front

Beautiful photo from the Cleveland collection of a nice frontal shot of the Vandalia RR Depot in its original wooden exterior, before the 1920 fire that destroyed it (though the exact date of this photo is not indicated). The sparse view of Culver behind the Depot shows how much the area has changed!

Depot at Vandalia Station

This undated postcard depicting the Depot at Vandalia Station shows Culver as it hasn't looked for some time, particularly to the left and behind the depot itself.

Rail Crew

A rail crew near the Vandalia railroad station in the early 1900s.

Vandalia Railroad (PRR) No. 349

Clipping from an unknown source, from the Cleveland collection, captioned, "Vandalia Railroad (PRR) No. 349 is southbound at Culver with patriotic decorations on August 3, 1907..."

Members of the Shively Family

Members of the Shively family, unidentified, in front of a baggage wagon at the Vandalia depot at what is today the Town Park on Lake Shore Drive.

Depot Fire 01 Depot Fire 02 Depot Fire 03

Depot Fire 04

The 8 photos here depict the 2:00 am, Jan. 12, 1920, fire that destroyed the original Vandalia station depot in Vandalia Park (today's Town Park). That depot, whose signs marked the station as "Marmont" (reflecting the earlier name of the town, which was changed in 1896), was located somewhat east of where the "Culver" depot was built and where it remains today.

Depot Fire 05Depot Fire 06Depot Fire 07

Depot Fire 08

As is evidenced by these photos, the fire destroyed the depot completely, and the "Culver" depot was constructed in September, 1925.

Fire Article

The Jan. 14, 1920 cover story of the Culver Citizen on the fire that destroyed the Vandalia depot.

Depot Saucer Depot Saucer Closeup

Shots of a saucer which depicts the Depot at Vandalia Park, from the collection of John Cleveland. The second shot is a closeup.

1938 Article

This photo and caption were printed in a 1938 edition of the Culver Citizen newspaper, but they depict an August, 1890 photo taken by John R. Hager. The photo itself is seen in better copy elsewhere on this page, but the caption is revealing and suggests that the date and information were written on the back of the photo by George E. Farrington, one time secretary of the old Vandalia line. The building, as we already know, burned at 2:00 am on Jan. 12, 1920, with the present brick depot completed in September, 1925.

Vandalia Depot

An 1895 image of the Vandalia Depot when Culver was "Marmont." The Hotel Colonnade can be seen in the background. This image comes from an Agricultural Fair program provided by the Culver Antiquarian & Historical Society. The whole program may be seen here.

Train Pulling Into Depot

An unusual shot of a train pulling into Vandalia station in the 1920s

Marmont Depot

Another image from John Cleveland's photos, this one showing the Depot marked -- upon close examination -- "Marmont." Assuming the sign was changed on time, this would date the picture before the 1895 name-change of the town of Marmont to Culver. Again, the area behind the Depot is revealing for how different it was from today's Lake Shore Drive area.

The Doodlebug

The Pennsylvania Railroad's train, "The Doodlebug," shown in a photo from the Cleveland collection dated August 2, 1947. Interestingly, it would be just over two months later, on Nov. 27, 1947, that railroad service to Culver was officially ended due to a lack of usage.

The Vandalia Park Depot

The Vandalia Park Depot in a strange state of existence (even stranger is that a postcard was produced of the building at this point!). The postcard is dated 1974, more than twenty years after the last trains ran on the Vandalia line, but at least a decade before the depot was remodeled and reopened for its present usage as a community center. The overgrown tracks, visible in the foreground, sat abandoned for years before being finally torn up in the 80s and part of the railway turned into a trail through the "Indian Trails" woods.

Toner Avenue

Robert Waite sent the library this photo of Toner Avenue (today Lake Shore Drive), with an unidentified woman crossing the street. On the right can be seen the edge of Vandalia depot and the train waiting station. Photo is late teens or early 1920s. Clipping from an unknown source, from the Cleveland collection, captioned, "Vandalia Railroad (PRR) No. 349 is southbound at Culver with patriotic decorations on August 3, 1907..."

June Waite

June Waite at the Vandalia depot in Culver, in a photo that would have to have been taken after the 1920 fire that destroyed the original Marmont depot (note "Culver" sign on depot, indicating that this is the rebuilt depot in its current location). Photo courtesy Robert Waite. 

Thelma Scott 01Thelma Scott 02

Two photos depicting members of her family and Culver's African-American community at the train station (is this Hibbard or Culver?) to see off Thelma Scott, on her way to Washington, D.C. to attend college at Howard University, a photo taken in 1924 and provided by Thelma's daughter, Thelma Hodges Moorehead. See Culver's Afircan American Experience for more on Thelma Scott / Hodges.

Depot in 1980s 01Depot in 1980s 02Depot in 1980s 03

Multiple images of the Vandalia Depot in Culver's Town Park in the early 1980s before its renovation process was begun by the Lion's Club of Culver, who undertook a total overhaul of the building and restored it to the good condition it is in today (the Lions, of course, still own the structure). It had fallen into terrible disrepair, as these photos attest, after train travel here stopped in the 1960s, and would certainly have had to be demolished had the community and Lions Club not worked together to save it.

Depot in 1980s 04Depot in 1980s 05Depot in 1980s 06Depot in 1980s 07

More photos depicting the extent of the disrepair of the Vandalia station depot in the Town Park before the Lions Club renovated it.

Depot Sketch

Local artist Barbara Meeker made this pen and ink sketch of the depot as part of the campaign to restore it undertaken by Culver's Lions Club in the mid 1980s.

Depot Postcard 01Depot Postcard 02

Two variations of the same postcard, both from the Mike Shesky collection. The photo at left, of course, is colorized and the photo at right is in its original form. The photo was taken before 1920, as evidenced by the existence of the original depot building in the background. Note also the horse-drawn wagon at left.

Depot 1963 01Depot 1963 02Depot 1963 03

Above: A laundromat occupied depot in about 1963.Three views of the depot in the Town Park in that era, when it was still in a state of disrepair, before Culver's Lion's Club renovated it. From Bob Albert's photo collection.

Sycamore Road Crossing

A view from the Sycamore Road crossing on the old Vandalia line, from the 1970s. From Bob Albert's photo collection.

New Depot opens part 1 Sept., 1925New Depot opens part 2 Sept., 1925

A September, 1925 article from the Culver Citizen reports the opening of the "new" depot/train station at Vandalia Park. The original station burned in January of 1920, and it is surprising that such a long period of time passed before a new depot was open, as heavily used as the train station was, particularly in those tourist-heavy days. The opening paragraph of this article points to the apparent frustration of the local citizenry over the delay, as it recounts that the new depot's opening has been "dreamed of, hoped for, and almost despaired of." This article also provides some interesting detail about the layout and contents of the depot when it first opened.

Images: Trains and Tracks

Train Wrecks

1940 Train Wreck Article

A 1940 Culver Citizen article about the wreck of a Pennsy train and a county truck "at the crossing near the Zechiel farm, south of town on road 17" (this would be OLD 17, which is today West Shore Drive and then Sage Road going south).

1950s Derailment 011950s Derailment 021950s Derailment 03

A train derailment occurred in the 1950s on the Vandalia line at Culver's town park, and is documented in these photos from the archives of the Marshall County Historical Museum.

1950s Derailment 041950s Derailment 051950s Derailment 06

Photos of the train wreck at Culver's park.

West Shore Derailment 01West Shore Derailment 02West Shore Derailment 03

West Shore Derailment 04West Shore Derailment 05West Shore Derailment 06

Above: Photos from the Jon Schmidt collection of the train derailment that occurred in the 1950s on the West shore of Lake Maxinkuckee, and the cleanup effort that followed.

Yarlett St.

This photo was described to me as a 1913 depiction of "Yarlett Street." There remains a Yarlett Street in Hibbard, a few miles northeast of Culver, and this picture may be of that Yarlett Street. Corrections are welcome!

Alice Bess Mackey and Barbara Thomas

Above: a 1939 photo of Alice Bess Mackey and Barbara Thomas at the Vandalia station in Culver, standing in front of the Doodlebug.

View from Walker Boat House

A view from the front door of the Walker boat-house, showing the Vandalia railroad line. This would be facing away from Lake Maxinkuckee towards the west, approximately. This photo is probably from the 1920s or 1930s, and comes from the Ted Schenberg collection.

Tracks Along Lake

The Vandalia railroad tracks alongside Lake Maxinkuckee are shown here at an unknown locale. Dated July, 1913, the photo does not depict a scene in the Vandalia Park area (as the tracks are too close to the water), so presumably shows an area south along the more western shore of the lake. Does anyone have a workable theory as to specific location?

0101

Two-page lease agreement between the Vandalia Railroad and "J.P. Walter of Culver," and "C.A. Shrob of Warsaw" allowing the latter to lease the Lakeview Hotel property from 1911-1913. This fascinating artifact provided to the library by Jon Schmidt gives some interesting detail to the history of one of Culver's first hotels, and one which helped usher in the railroad and the era of Culver as a tourist area

0101

Agreement between the Vandalia Railroad company and the Castleton and Williamson Coal company of Culver allowing the company to operate and maintain the coal bins on a small portion of the land owned by the rail company. Since there seems to be an annual lease charge of $5 for the coal company, presumably this is business not directly related to the operation of the railroad, but was business conducted for other customers but which took place on a small portion of the Vandalia company's land. The location listed is seventy feet south of the intersection of the railroad line with Mill Street in Culver, which would have been close to the Lake Maxinkuckee shore line. These documents are dated 1913, and were loaned by Jon Schmidt.

Outlet on Lake Maxinkuckee postcard

One version of an early postcard depicting a sweeping view of Lake Maxinkuckee's outlet on the West Shore of the lake, with the Vandalia railroad bridge going over the stream. This shot was taken from the property owned today by Jim Weirick, who loaned us this image. This photo was probably taken prior to 1920.

Outlet Bridge Lake Maxinkuckee Weirick Collection

A member of Jim Weirick's family on West Shore Drive just south of Culver's Masonic cemetary. In the background is the bridge above Lake Maxinkuckee's outlet, as well as a partial view of Long Point at the time. A photo from the Jim Weirick collection, probably taken in the 1940s.

01

This fascinating artifact provided to the library by Jon Schmidt is an inventory of the articles in the Lake View Hotel and its adjoining cottages, numbers 1-6, taken Nov. 20, 1911. This presumably related to the 1911-1913 leasing of the hotel to Walter and Shorb by the Vandalia Railroad, who owned the property.

Railroad crossing West Shore Lake Maxinkuckee

The railroad crossing just north of the Lake Maxinkuckee outlet on West Shore Drive, just south of Culver's Masonic cemetary. This photo was provided by Jim Weirick, whose childhood home (and now adult home, though on a different parcel!) was nearby. This photo was taken in the 1940s.

01

Members of Jim Weirick's family in a 1940s photo from the West Shore of the lake. Visible in the background is the Vandalia railroad line and a convenience store that Jim says was once used frequently by passengers on the trains, which stopped here to allow snack purchases. That store has since been converted into a house, which is on the West Shore Drive curve just south of the Masonic cemetary.

Vandalia Railroad (PRR) No. 349

Clipping from an unknown source, from the Cleveland collection, captioned, "Vandalia Railroad (PRR) No. 349 is southbound at Culver with patriotic decorations on August 3, 1907..."

Another Pennsylvania Railroad Engine

Another Pennsylvania Railroad engine photo from the Cleveland collection, this one dated June 3, 1929.

Train on Tracks

A 1950s photo of a train on the tracks in the town park area, with Culver's grain elevator visible in the background. From Verl Shaffer's collection.

Trains Around Lake 01Trains Around Lake 02Trains Around Lake 03

Trains Around Lake 04Trains Around Lake 05Trains Around Lake 06

A series of photos loaned the library by local train enthusiast Jon Schmidt, showing trains on the rails around Lake Maxinkuckee.

Last Erie Train

The last Erie train at Delong for Culver Military Academy cadets, January, 1967.

Near Long Point

Another very rare photo from the John Cleveland collection, this one depicts children walking the Vandalia railroad on the Lake. This shot appears to me to be west of Culver where the Lake curves away from Long Point (having walked that track myself many times as a child, when it still existed!), but I am open to correction. No date is given but the dress of the children certainly indicates a number of years back!

Doodlebug 01Doodlebug 02Doodlebug 03Doodlebug 04

Doodlebug 05Doodlebug 06Doodlebug 07Doodlebug 08

Above: Multiple images of the Doodlebug, the small train that ran throughout this region daily and up to South Bend and back. The Doodlebug was a popular and well-known train that lives on in the memories of thousands who traveled by it. These photos were provided by Jon Schmidt of the Hoosier Valley Rail Museum in North Judson, IN. The museum's website includes hundreds of photos and information pertaining to trains of this area, and may be seen here.

The photos: include: (third from left, top row) the Doodlebug at Grass Creek, Indiana in Fulton County; (fourth from left, top row) the Doodlebug at Lucerne; (third from left, bottom row) the Doodlebug at nearby Hibbard.

Steamboat Arlington

The steamboat SS Arlington docked alongside the iconic Arlington Hotel on the south shore of Lake Maxinkuckee's Long Point on the lake's west shore. This fascinating view not only depicts an unusual angle on the hotel itself, but also appears to show the small Arlington depot, an elusive piece of "lost" history of Culver. The Arlington depot would have been the only depot in the Culver area besides the main Vandalia depot located in the town park.

010101

Letters pertaining to an agreement between the Vandalia Railroad company and the Castleton and Williamson Coal company of Culver allowing the company to operate and maintain the coal bins on a small portion of the land owned by the rail company, seventy feet south of the intersection of the railroad line with Mill Street in Culver, These documents are dated 1913, and were loaned by Jon Schmidt.

Weirick Family House West Shore Drive

An October, 1965 photo from the Jim Weirick collection taken from the family's home on West Shore Drive. In the background is Lake Maxinkuckee and the railroad crossing signals from the Vandalia line.

1940s Weirick Photo West Shore Railroad Tracks and House

The Vandalia railroad tracks can just be seen in this 1940s photo of Jim Weirick's childhood home on West Shore Drive.

 

Vandalia Plat Map Lease to Arthur Morris

Aug. 24, 1911 plat map of the Vandalia railroad's lease to Arthur Morris which appears to show the railroad line running from just south of the depot/train station up to what appears to be the Lakeview Hotel (in the upper middle of the map. This item was loaned by Jon Schmidt.

01

Dated Jan. 21, 1913, this plat map shows the proposed lease to Castleman and Williamson Coal of a piece of land owned by the Vandalia Railroad near Hawkins Court and Plymouth Street.

01

Fascinating artifact provided to the library by Jon Schmidt. This lease is for the Lakeview Hotel including cottages 1-6, for $125 per year, from 1911 to 1913. At the time, that land was owned by the Vandalia Railroad and was being leased to what appears to be "Walter and Shorb" (presumably to manage the hotel). This item gives some interesting detail to the history of one of Culver's first hotels, and one which helped usher in the railroad and the era of Culver as a tourist area. The hotel, of course, was located on the bluff between Vandalia Park and the Culver Academy, the site of today's Indian Trails.