08 October 2014

Then Pennsylvania Railroad in Warsaw, Indiana

A view along the Pennsylvania Railroad and Jefferson Street, in Warsaw, in c. 1910.  The depot is on the right and the Haines Hotel is on the left.
 The Pennsylvania Railroad through Warsaw, Indiana has a great collection of railroad structures.  Due to the alignment's push down the middle of a four block section of Jefferson Street, an urban "vista" is produced that is one of the nicest feeling, step-back-into-time sorta experiences one could have on the Pennsy.  A steel girder truss bridge forms a viaduct unlike any other along this route.  The viaduct formed at Columbia Street was a product of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation erected in 1929.  Most of the Pennsy's viaducts have a single span with no intermediate supports, only the stone abutments.  At Columbia Street the railroad provided for pedestrian walkways with a steel frame that separates the road from the sidewalk.  And then they did the unthinkable, they incorporated a bit of flare in the design with half-arched brackets to support the girders.
The viaduct at Columbia Street.  A plaque in the upper right corner indicates it was built in 1929.
This type of steel girder truss bridge on stone abutments is pretty common along the route.  Most date to about 1890-1905.  The design of the late arrival at Columbia Street I think shows the building success and popularity of the railroad in the public's mind.....the structure became a piece of civic pride.  Sanborn fire insurance maps indicate there was a steel bridge at this location as early as 1892; a similar viaduct on the Pennsy was enlarged in Plymouth in about 1890.

Detail of the 1929 bridge
 It was an exceptionally cold and snowy day on our Pennsylvania Railroad structures reconnaissance mission.  Which was unfortunate because I probably could have hung out in the four block Jefferson Street section for awhile waiting for a train to come through-just to get a sense of what it was like.  Unlike most of the locations along the Pennsy in Indiana, the alignment's routing down the middle of a street, or the street's alignment straddling the railroad (which came first, I do not know) provided an opportunity for commercial establishments to locate immediately on the route.

Same view as the old post card, but from the opposite direction
 In this view, facing east, the railroad constructed their depot (on the left and below) in 1893.  The 1892 Sanborn map of this location shows an empty plot of land with "depot to be built here".  Across the street the Haines family constructed a hotel (right side) shortly after the depot was built.  Brick pavers still form the platform around the depot from which people boarded the train, though the canopy is long gone.  The style applied to the depot came to dominate design for new depots constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  It has Colonial formality but borrows from Victorian-era Queen Anne design as well.

The Penn Depot, 1893, in Warsaw today.
 The house below screams railroad hotel or boarding house.  It is a great example of Italianate design, a style whose popularity rose with the economic boon most towns experienced with the coming of the railroad era.  Since the Pennsy was built in 1856, the bones of this old place may go back to as early as c. 1865.  It is located further west of the depot and viaduct.  And you can see in this picture, it had started to snow.

Another possible railroad boarding house, c. 1865, west of Columbia Street.

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