About twenty years ago promoters got busy on the New York-Chicago Air Line. The road was to be built as an air line between the two cities and the distance was to be covered by fast electric trains in record time. The first link of the line started east from Goodrum to Laporte. Many thousands of dollars were spent on the grades through Jackson township, as the large hills were cut through and many low places were filled in. Six men were killed one Sunday afternoon when a strong windstorm blew over the trestle work in which a fill was to be made. Branches were built to Chesterton and Valparaiso to act as feeders and great prosperity was promised to this community as a result of the undertaking. The line to Laporte was finally completed and the company officials gave a banquet in Laporte to many of the leaders of the community. Service was started and trains were run every two hours. But no train ever carried passengers enough to pay the cost of its operation and in a few years the Laporte branch was abandoned.
The Chesterton branch also was a dud. It never paid its way and a few years ago this also was given up and the tracks torn up from the city limits to the car barn, although the rails are still buried beneath the paving in Chesterton.
The Valparaiso-Gary branch managed to keep going. It has been improved and is giving good service.
Last spring the company purchased land in Valparaiso and has built a modern car barn there and what was left at Goodrum was moved to the new barn and just the shell of the old structure remains. This should be removed before the wind carries it over.
The company had also built several new cottages for its employes at Goodrum and these have been sold and removed to other locations, and the site presents a more desolate sight than it did before the boom came.
Col. Hoard was the man with the big vision that saw the possibilities of an air line route to New York. There wasn't to be a crook, turn of curve in the entire distance. The colonel has gone to the land beyond, and his dream is left for someone else to carry out.
|Calumet Heritage Partnership||
|Air Line e-club||
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