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1853 Jeffersonville Railroad Company

Original signature of William G Armstrong, Indiana Senator

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Stock Code JRC1853

  Certificate number 1688, for 100 shares in this Indiana-based railroad company, dated 1st August 1853. Original handwritten signatures of William G Armstrong (Member of the Indiana House Of Representatives and the Indiana State Senate), President and J. Campbell, Company Secretary. Issued to John Woodburn.

The company was originally chartered in 1832 as the Ohio and Indianapolis Railroad and, in 1866, merged with the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad.

Certificate size is 21 cm wide x 22 cm high (8.5" x 9").

A perfect personalised gift for someone who:

  • works or worked in the railroad industry or
  • has the surname Armstrong, Campbell or Woodburn
  • is interested in Indiana political history

About This Company

Framed Certificate Price : £120.00

Certificate Only Price : £75.00


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About This Company

The Jeffersonville Railroad began as the Ohio and Indianapolis Railroad with its charter by the Indiana Legislature on February 3, 1832. The railroad was re-chartered in 1837 and again in 1846, but no action was taken. The 1846 charter authorized initial capital of $1,000,000 divided into shares of $100 each, $100,000 of which had to be subscribed before the company could be organized. The time limit on the company’s organization was set at thirteen months. However, the idea for the railroad was delayed a few years and revived in 1848 when the promoters again got together to raise the required initial capital of $100,000 and organize the company. William G. Armstrong of Jeffersonville served as its first president until his death in 1858.

In October 1848, a contract was let for construction of the first 22 miles. On February 3, 1849, the Jeffersonville Railroad secured a more liberal charter which extended the time limit for its organization to five years and gave the company authority to build its line not only to Columbus, but to any other point in the state that might be desired. This was an important concession, since Indianapolis was the desired terminus.

On July 1, 1851, when its track had not yet reached Scottsburg (25 miles from Jeffersonville), the Jeffersonville Railroad in a strategic maneuver to divert feeder lines’ traffic from the M&I purchased the Shelbyville Lateral Railroad, which linked Edinburg and Shelbyville, and leased the Shelbyville and Knightstown Railroad. The action by the Jeffersonville Railroad subsequently was countered by the M&I with construction of a competitive railroad from Columbus to Shelbyville. The Shelbyville Lateral Railroad and the Shelbyville and Knightstown Railroad eventually proved to be unprofitable for the Jeffersonville Railroad and were abandoned in 1855 and 1854, respectively.

By August of 1852 the 50 miles between Jeffersonville and Rockford (two miles north of Seymour) was completed and put in operation. In October 1852 the Jeffersonville Railroad reached Columbus.
Then the battle began.

In 1852 John Brough was president of the M&I, which had enjoyed a monopoly for traffic between the Ohio River and Indianapolis. But William Armstrong was equal to his rival. When the Jeffersonville Railroad approached Columbus, Armstrong sought to secure an arrangement with Brough to operate the Jeffersonville Railroad’s trains over the tracks of the M&I to Indianapolis. Anticipating this, Armstrong arranged the timetables for his trains to conform to M&I timetables. However, Brough then changed the M&I timetables. When the Jeffersonville Railroad’s train approached Columbus, the M&I train for Indianapolis was just departing. Not to be outdone, Armstrong simply headed for Indianapolis by building his own track from Columbus ten miles north to Edinburg, alongside and only a few yards away from the M&I track.

An interesting part of the feud between the Jeffersonville Railroad and the M&I were the races on the paired lines between Columbus and Edinburg. An example occurred the morning of January 26, 1853, when a Jeffersonville Railroad train and an M&I train started at the same speed. As soon as the M&I train had gained a slight lead and the passengers had given the signal for a race, the Jeffersonville Railroad train pulled by the locomotive Clark pulled into the lead and won.

Brough left the presidency of the M&I in February 1853 to become president of the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad. He was succeeded by E. W. Ellis, who negotiated with President Armstrong an agreement that permitted the Jeffersonville Railroad to use the M&I’s tracks from Edinburg to Indianapolis. The trackage rights became effective November 9, 1853. The M&I track between Columbus and Edinburg was abandoned in 1864, and thereafter the trains of both the M&I and the Jeffersonville Railroad used the Jeffersonville Railroad track.

The Jeffersonville Railroad lacked a bridge over the Ohio River at Louisville. Consequently, it had to ferry its cars on barges at considerable cost and delay for traffic moving to and from the South. In 1856 construction of a bridge was authorized by Congress, and in the same year the Louisville Bridge Company was chartered by the Kentucky Legislature. No steps were taken under that charter, so in February 1862, the charter was revived and confirmed. The Louisville Bridge Company was organized February 17, 1867, with the JM&I and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad as principal stockholders. Work began in the summer of 1867, and the bridge opened for traffic February 24, 1870.
At the time the Jeffersonville Railroad was standard gauge, but the L&N gauge was 5 feet. A steam hoist system was in use in Louisville to change the gauge of cars by lifting them off their original trucks and replacing them with the trucks of the next railroad’s gauge. This expensive operation continued until 1886, when the L&N changed the gauge of 2,000 miles of its track to standard gauge in a single day.

By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Madison railroad’s track, fixed plant, locomotives, and cars were in poor condition and badly in need of rehabilitation or replacement. Meanwhile, the Jeffersonville Railroad had been quietly buying the Madison railroad’s common stock. At the meeting of the board of directors of the Indianapolis and Madison Railroad in early 1866, the Jeffersonville Railroad Company elected a majority of the board. Shortly thereafter, effective May 1, 1866, the Indianapolis and Madison Railroad was merged with the Jeffersonville Railroad to form the Jeffersonville, Madison, and Indianapolis Railroad Company.

source: Phil Anderson





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