A brief History of Vandalia Railroad
The Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad Company was originally chartered the Terre
Haute & Richmond Railroad Company in 1847.
The charter for the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad Company was secured in January 1847.
The line between Terre Haute and Indianapolis soon became the sole focus of the TH&R’s
construction efforts—so much so that Terre Haute interests wo uld be forced to seek a
separation of the company in 1851. The eastern half of the line wo uld be recharted and
completed as the Indiana Central. It was a split of no great consequence because the
TH&R’s success no longer depended on the line to Richmond. Construction started late
in 1849, and the entire 73-miles of the TH&R opened in February 1852.
With the railroad in operation and immediately successf ul, former president Chauncey Rose
turned his attention toward extending the TH&R’s reach westward to St. Louis. The Terre
Haute & Alton was built in 1854 and consolidated with the Belleville & Illinoistown in 1856 as
the Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis. For a time, at least, it was the TH&R’s primary
In April 1858 an angry TH&R board instructed its superintendent not to deliver any more freight
to the Alton line. In an attempt to remain solvent, the Alton line had begun to delay its
payments for interline freight and accum ulated a deficit in its account with the TH&R. By
year’s end the TH&R board was threatening legal action if some form of reg ular payment
was not initiated to liquidate the debt. Despite the hostile relations, business as usual continued
over the two lines.
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 and the virtual closure of the Mississippi River to
commercial traffic, the TH&R ceased to be a small, hometown enterprise. Additional traffic
required additional equipment, and more locomotives and cars meant increased shop space, more
machinery, and a bigger workforce. Final resolution of the claim against the Alton line came in
June 1862, and it was reorganized as the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute.
By the end of the war, TH&R found itself part of an increasingly important east-west trunk line.
Never completely satisfied with the Alton as the western connection TH&R became increasingly
disenchanted with the line’s performance. In February 1865 the St. Louis, Vandalia, &
Terre Haute Railroad was incorporated and proposed as the new western connection, joining the
Highland & St. Louis and the Alton line.
In March 1865 the Indiana legislature changed the name of the TH&R, to better reflect reality,
to the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad. On 1 January 1905 it consolidated with the St. Louis,
Vandalia & Terre Haute, Terre Haute & Logansport, Logansport & Toledo, and the Indianapolis &
Vincennes to form the Vandalia Railroad Company.
The Vandalia Railroad track in Indiana was built in 1851 and the first train ran
from Terre Haute to Indianapolis, in Jan. 1852.
In March 1865, to better reflect reality, the Indiana legislature changed the name
of the TH&R to the Terre Haute & Indianapolis.
In 1868, McKeen struck a deal with J. Edgar Thompson, president of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, to lease the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute to the TH&I. McKeen renamed
the system the Vandalia line and used the lease to keep the Pennsylvania at arm’s
By 1872 McKeen was looking to solve his problems with out-of-touch board members
and keep the Pennsylvania from taking over the line. He solved one problem by buying
a sizeable block of TH&I stock and replacing some members of the board with his
friends and associates. To improve the relationship between TH&I and the Pennsylvania,
McKeen and the board approved a new arrangement in October 1875, which led to
the mutual sharing of traffic and revenue. This arrangement lasted until January
1878 when the I&StL consented to a termination of the joint operations arrangement,
which left the TH&I free to compete on its own.
By the F ulton County History (National Publishing Co., Chicafo, Ill.), 1896, Elia
W. Peattie pg. 138-9: In 1880 A. D. Toner became the prime factor in a movement
for the construction of a railroad from Logansport through Kewanna to South Bend,
and was instrumental in the organization of a company of Kewanna citizens for the
construction of the railroad. The movement res ulted in inducing the Vandalia
railroad company to propose building a railroad from Logansport to lake Maxinkuckee,
in consideration of the right of way and $20,000. Mr. Toner, P. S. Troutman, John F.
Wilson and Hickman Phillips assumed the responsibility of securing the right of way
and the $20,000, becoming responsible to the Vandalia railroad company for the named
consideration. They were aided in making this subsidy good by the public, who voted
taxation and gave donations. Mr. Toner built thirteen miles of the road as a contractor
and, as soon as the road was completed he erected a small elevator at Kewanna.
In June 1887, after years of putting off potential buyers, McKeen sold his stock in
the TH&I to Henry Ives & Company, who also owned the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton.
By August 10 Henry Ives & Company had suspended operations, and McKeen had been
re-elected president of TH&I. Ives’ administration of both roads had been costly,
and it quickly became clear that he had gutted the TH&I treasury.
1893 - McKeen signed an agreement to sell the line to the Pennsylvania Company on
18 August 1893 which gave him everything he had originally asked for when the
Pennsylvania first expressed an interest in the line in 1885. The Pennsylvania could
not have picked a worse time to purchase the TH&I. While 1892 had been a good year
for its own system of roads and 1893 started out well for it and the TH&I, the
financial depression that was in f ull swing by summer had a dramatic effect on
railroad traffic and earnings for both lines.
The railroad of the Vandalia Railroad Company, is a standard-gauge, steam railroad,
located in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.
||Vandalia Railroad Stock share.|
1904 - On 14 December at a special stockholder’s meeting the TH&I board voted to
consolidate the company into an all new Vandalia Railroad Company. The vote passed.
The Vandalia was incorporated under the general laws of Indiana and Illinois through
filing with the secretaries of state of those States on December 29, 1904, and December
31, 1904, respectively, an agreement dated December 29, 1904, for the purpose of
consolidating the properties, rights, and franchises and so at midnight on 31 December
1904 the 58-year history of the railroad came to a quiet end, and the next day the new
Vandalia Railroad took its place - as the consolidation of the St. Louis, Vandalia &
Terre Haute RR, Terre Haute & Indianapolis RR, Terre Haute & Logansport Rwy, Logansport
& Toledo Rwy and Indiana & Vincennes RR. More details on the consildations propterty holdings
etc can be found at:
Corpaorate Genealogy Vandalia Railroad
In 30 June 1916 all the separate Vandalia and Panhandle lines were consolidated. In 1917
the Panhandle (the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, which
had been acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1868 ) was absorbed by the Vandalia
RR, and this road was leased by the Pennsylvania RR in 1921. The detailed acquired holdings of
the Pennsylvania Railroad
||The Pennsylvania RR merged with New York Central in 1968, creating the ill-fated
||Pennsylvannia Railroad Stock Shares
The Penn-Central declared bankruptcy in 1970 Most of the line was abandoned in
1976 by Penn Central and in 1982 by Conrail.