The Rise and Fall of River and Rail transportation in Madison, Indiana.

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Article: First Trip of the Locomotive on the Inclined Plain

Article: Madison Courier from November 6, 1841…

The citizens of Madison were gratified on Wednesday morning last, with a spectacle unlooked for by the people generally as well as ourselves. It was the action of the common Locomotive and its train upon the plain of the Railroad between the depot on the hill and the river. The track being laid and in a condition to receive the cars, about 8 o’clock in the morning the locomotive came down the plain and proceeded up the river to the principal wharfs of the city. There it paused until every position where a man could stand, on the engine itself, on the tender, and on a burthen car attached to them, was entirely occupied. It then moved with great velocity to the plain, which it ascended with ease, and arrived at the depot in little more than eleven minutes, from the vicinity of the wharf from which it started, a distance of about two miles, and carrying between 80 and 100 passengers.

Governor NobleAmong those who passed up the plain on the cars, we mention the Rev. Allen Wiley and the Rev. John Smith, of the Methodist Episcopal church, and Gov. Noble (right), the Fund Commissioner of the State, who considered, as we understand, the question settled, that steam power will be all sufficient on the plain, and that passengers and freight from the interior need not be much longer taxed and delayed by leaving the cars at the depot and employing hacks and wagons to the hotels and business houses of the city. We are among those who have been incredulous as to the propriety of the location and heavy expenditure of the plain, but these having taken place, we congratulate our fellow citizens of the back country in the increased comfort and facilities they will have in visiting and doing business in our place; and when we take into view the vast trade in Wheat and Salt between this point and the central counties of the State, we feel certain that an increased interest will be felt everywhere in this matter. The wheat from the back country, we are told, has been the present year, at least three to one greater than any previous year.

To the present Fund and Internal Improvement commissioners of the State we are mainly indebted for the progress of the work during the present year. They, with the aid of several enterprising citizens of this place, have given impulse to the work by applying a portion of the last appropriation to it, and the whole line, with a very few exceptions, (unfinished short sections) is graded and bridged from this point to Edinburgh. The track is laid and cars running as far as Griffith’s about 29 miles from this place and could iron be procured the residue of the appropriation not yet expended, would probably lay the track to Edinburg, about 29 miles further. This cannot fail to awaken additional interest in the next Legislature to the work; for, finished that far, private enterprise would accomplish, and that speedily, the remaining 28 to 30 miles to Indianapolis, and the road would at once yield a revenue to the State, and be of incalculable value to the whole interior.

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