William Frederick Howat.

A standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) online

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formed on September 30, 1896, by agreement of consolidation between
the Chicago, Hammond and Western Railroad Company and the Ham-
mond and Blue Island Railroad Company. The Hammond and Blue
Island Railroad Company was formed on September 30, 1896, by the
consolidation of two companies of like name, organized respectively
under the laws of the States of Indiana and Illinois.

"The Indiana Harbor Railroad Company of Illinois was incorpor-
ated under the name of Terminal Railroad Company on April 16, 1896,
under the laws of the State of IlHnois, and constructed a line of rail-
road from Chappell to the Union Stock Yards. On January 23, 1905,
the name of the Terminal Railroad Company was changed to the
Indiana Harbor Railroad Company of Illinois."

Financial Statement September 30, 1911

Cost of Road $10,210,479.53 Capital Stock $ 2.450,000.00

Equipment 491,568.31 Funded Debt 6,725,000.00

Capital Stock of Advances for Con-
Calumet Western struction 1,742,280.06

Railway and I. H.

R. R. of Illinois.. 214,201.00 $10,917,280.06

Employees, as of September 30, 1914, 1,550.

State Line Interlocking Plant

lentil 1906 Hammond was the only large railway center in Lake
County, and one of the most striking evidences of that fact was the great
interlocking plant, known more generally as the State Line Tower. The
News descril)es it with enthusiasm: "A stranger in passing through
Hammond over nearly any of the great trunk lines of railroad would
oliserve in the northwest part of the city, on the Indiana side of the line
dividing the States of Indiana and Illinois, the largest manual inter-
locking plant on the western hemisphere. In fact there is but one larger
in the world, and that one is located at Chatham Junction, near London,
England. This plant is known as the State Line Interlocking Tower.

"It is probable that no more complete and perfect interlocking plant


has ever been built thau this oue. The trains of the following railways
pass over the tracks controlled by this immense plant : Chicago & West-
ern Indiana R. R. and Belt Railway of Chicago, Chicago Junction Ry.,
Pennsylvania Ry., Chicago & Erie Ry., Chicago Terminal Transfer Ry.,
New York, Chicago & St. Louis Ry. (Nickel Plate Line), Chicago, India-
napolis & Louisville Ry. (Monon Route), Michigan Central Ry., Wabash
Ry., Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Ry. (Chicago Belt Line), Pere Marquette
Ry., and L. S. & M. S. dummy line. There is perhaps not another place
in America outside of the large cities where so many important lines
of railways come together at one point and it is the only place in the
vicinity of Chicago where all the belt lines come together. It is on this
account that Hammond is celebrated for her superior advantages as a
shipping point, advantages that are unapproached by any other city of
the same size in the comitry. It is on account of these facilities that so
many important manufacturing industries are looking this way for loca-
tions and the cause of the city's remarkable growth, in the past, and her
bright prospects for upbuilding in the future.

' ' The State Line Tower building is constructed of pressed brick, laid
in cement. The dimensions of the building are 16l^xl00 feet, three
large triple windows light up the room below the operating floor so that
an inspection of the working parts of the mechanism of the machine can
be quickly and easily made. The operating floor is so arranged that the
men in charge have a clear view of all the tracks witliin the limits of
the interlocker. The construction of the building is on the slow com-
bustion plan. The roof is of No. 1 Banzon slate supplied under speci-
fications of the United States Government. The interior of the operating
room is finished in natural wood. The machine frame is made for 224
levers and is 94 feet in length. There are at present 160 active levers in
use, and 10 more are now being added. In the construction of this plant
there was 62,000 feet of one inch pipe, weighing 47 tons, used. The most
extreme signal operated is 2,692 feet from the tower. There are 109,000
feet or about 21 miles of signal wire consumed in the plant.

"Switches are operated at an extreme distance of 1,242 feet. It re-
quires 200 gallons per month of the best grade of kerosene oil to light the
signal lamps. Upwards of 300 trains move over the plant every 24 hours.
At a test made some time ago by the Erie Ry. 275 levers were required
to be handled to move the trains for one hour.

"The plant was installed in November, 1887. Since that time the
E. J. & E. Ry. have built a large freight yard with a capacity for 700
cars just north of the plant, the lead switches being connected to the
plant. The C. & W. I. R. R. are now (1904) laying two additional main
tracks, making it a four track road and the Erie Ry. and C. T. T. Ry.


are both double tracking their lines. Additions are now being made at
the tower to handle this increased trackage.

' ' The Western Union Telegraph Company have made the Tower tele-
graph office one of their main test offices and will soon install a large
switch board there. There are ten men employed regularly at the State
Line Tower, nearly all of whom are old employees of the C. & W. I.
R. U., the company having charge of the operation of the plant.'"

Expansion of Electric Systems

For the past ten years the greatest railway expansion in Lake County,
especially in its northern sections, has been through the electric systems.
The first of the interurban lines in Lake County was that which was put
in operation between East Chicago and its district on Lake Michigan,
founded three years before by the erection of the Inland Steel Mill and
still called Indiana Harbor. The cars commenced to run between these
two divisions on February 20, 1904.

Gary & Interurban Railway

The largest of the electric systems witli headquarters in Lake County
is the Gary & Interurban Railway Company, which operates eighty-five
miles of track, reaching Gary, Hammond, Indiana Harbor — operating
a line between Hammond and Indiana Harbor — Gibson, Tolleston and
Calumet, and then east to Chrisman, MeCcol, Crocker. Valparaiso, La-
porte, Woodville and Chesterton.

The original Gary & Interurban Railway Company was organized
in 1907 by Frank M. Gavit of Whiting, who, in his building operations,
worked through the Cooperative Construction Company, headed by Fred-
erick H. Wood. Notwithstanding the hard times and the financial panic
of 1907, the road was pushed along from Gary through an unsettled
and unprofitable district, to Hammond ; also east to Ambridge, the work-
ingmen 's suburb of Gary ; and twenty-six miles of electric railway built
and equipped before the return of a dollar ! Some of the Air Line pro-
moters, who wanted an outlet through the Calumet region to the east-
ward, were interested in the Gary & Interurban, and in 1913, a reorgani-
zation was effected which was most acceptable to all. The consolidation
included the original Gary & Interurban, the Goshen, South Bend &
Chicago (Valparaiso & Northern) and the Gary Connecting Railway
Company, operated under the name of the first named concern. The
Gary & Interurban secures its power from the Northern Indiana Gas
and Electric Company and the Public Utilities Company of Chicago.


The Gary & Southern Traction line connects with the Gary & Inter-
urban and affords good service to and from Crown Point.

Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend

The Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Electric Railway is also a
line which is of splendid practical value to the Calumet region, passing
through Hammond and Gary on its way to South Bend, with a branch
from East Chicago to Indiana Harbor. The line from Gary to Kensing-
ton, Illinois, makes direct coimections with the suburban service of the
Illinois Central, thus providing another convenient connection with

Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago Line

The Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago is an electric system which
especially covers the western territory of the Calumet region. It oper-
ates twenty-five miles of road in North Township and its main points
are indicated by the title. By virtue of a running arrangement with the
South Chicago City Railway Company, it operates through cars from
Hammond, via Roby and South Chicago, to Sixty-third Street and
^Madison Avenue, Chicago, where connection is made with the Chicago
City Railway, the Elevated and the Illinois Central.

Railroad Yards and Works

Since the founding of Gary in 1906 not only has there been a great
development of transportation lines in the eastern and central districts
of the Calumet region, but Hammond and the western territory have
likewise been wonderfully stimulated. This has been strikingly shoAV']i
in the founding, expansion and consolidation of large freight yards, ma-
chine shops and locomotive works, like the famous Kirk yards at Gary,
the Gibson transfer yards in the southeastern part of Hammond and the
Baldwin Locomotive Works south of Indiana Harbor.

The Gibson yards were built and placed in operation in the fall of
1!)()6, as well as the large round house and machine shop. There are
now handled through these yards in the neighborhood of three thousand
freight cars daily, their entire operations employing from fifteen hun-
dred to two thousand people. The New York Central has spent some
$1,500,000 at this point in the erection of buildings, shops and tracks
for its extensive L. C. S. (less than car loads) Transfer Station. The
Chieago, Indiana & Southern and the Indiana Harbor Belt line, which


are controlled by the New York Central and have their headquarters at
Gibson, employ some fifteen hundred people. Most of the employees
reside in Hammond. A branch of the Young Men's Christian Associa-
tion is located at this point, and occupies a handsome building erected by
the Chicago, Indiana & Southern.

In the year 1906, when the Chicago, Indiana and Southern Railroad
was nearing completion, the railroad officials saw the need of some pro-
vision for the accommodation and general welfare of the -employes who
would have to stop at Gibson, the northern terminal of the road.

Mr. W. H. Hotchkiss, who was general manager of the Chicago,
Indiana & Southern at that time, consulted the authorities of the Young
Men's Christian Association relative to establishing a department of the
association at Gibson for the general welfare of the company 's employes.

Satisfactory arrangements were made and a building was erected and
fuimished by the railroad company, costing approximately $35,000, and
turned over to the Young Men's Christian Association to operate. Mr.
W. J. Miller was called from Cleveland, Ohio, as the general secretary
of the department and began his work early in 1907.

Mr. W. C. Belman. who was president of the Hammond Young ]Men's
Christian Association, which was incorporated, became president ex-
offieio of the Gib.son Railroad Department, and on April 24, 1907, a
committee of management was organized, consisting of H. A. McConnell,
chairman; A. R. Upp, vice chairman; A. J. Chapman, treasurer; R. N.
Burwell, recording secretary; F. N. Hickok, and J. H. Scott.

The building was completed and dedicated in July, 1907, and the
doors have not been locked since. Day and night men have been coming
and going, enjoying the hospitality and comfort made possible to them
by tlie railroad company in erecting the building for their employes.

When built in 1906, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern yards at Gaiy were
as large as any in the world. In tlie Kirk yards are about 135 miles of
tracks, and over 4,000 loads are handled daily by the 2,000 or more
men who are employed. The plant covers 1.380 acres, and the annual
pay roll of the concern is about $2,000,000.

The Baltimore & Ohio shops stretch alona' the Chicago, Lake Shore
& South Bend Electric line for some distance. ])artly within and partly
without the westei'ii boundary of East Chicago. A1)out 150 men are
employed in them, tlie yearly wages of whom amount to a third of a
million of dollars.

The Erie yards and shops are in Hammond, between the Grand and
Little Calumet rivers, cover over eighty acres and employ some three
hundred men.

The Monon, also, which comes up from the South, has yards and shops


which L'Over forty-eight acres uear the southern limits of the city, and
employ about one hundred and fifty men, and its depot at Hammond is a
little gem of convenience and good taste. The same may be said of the
Lake Shore and the Baltimore & Ohio depot at Gary.

The Baldwin Locomotive AVorks, when completed, will occupy more
than three hundred and seventy acres of ground in the southeastern out-
skirts of Indiana Harbor, northeast of the plant of the Grasselli Chem-
ical Company. Foundations for some of the principal buildings are
(December, 1914 j well under way.

Notable Feature of the Present

It is thus evident that the strong feature of the present railroad situa-
tion in the Calumet region, which, in turn, represents the most remark-
able advance in transportation facilities made in any tenitory of the
country outside of the immediate Chicago district, is the promotion of
the great enterprises championed respectively by Hammond as the
strongest factor in the w^estern portion of that region and Gary, the
eastern leader. To an impartial observer, it would appear, judging from
the prodigious industrial development of the entire region that there
will always be plenty of railroad business for each, and considerable to
spare for East Chicago, Indiana Harbor, Whiting and any other brisk
town which mav take a notion to be bom.



The Hohmans of Hammond — Other Pioneer Families — Rise of the
Fresh Beef Business — Shipping Company Formed — State Line
Slaughter House Founded — The Hohman Boarding House —
Start of Hammond — Marcus H. Towle — First Shipment op Re-
frigerated Beef — Mr. Towle and Mr. Hammond Differ — Thomas
Hammond Enters Business — A Big, Warm Man — Burning of
Slaughter House — James N. Young — The W. B. Conkey Plant
— Simplex Railway Appliance Company — Standard Steel Car
Works — Illinois Car and Equipment Company — Fitz Hugh
Luther Company — Northern Indiana Gas and Electric Works
— F. S. Betz IManufactory — American Maize Company — Food
Products of Reid, Murdoch & Company — Champion Potato Ma-
chines — Staube Piano Plant — The Hammond Distillery — The
Hammond Elevator — Enterprise Bed Company — East Chicago
Founded — The Inland Steel Company's Works — Indiana Har-
bor Industries — American Steel Foundries — Other Steel Plants
— Green Engineering Company — Aluminum Factory — Refining
Companies — Utilization of Tin "Waste" — The Grasselli Chem-
ical Works — Cudahy Products — East Chicago Docks — Inter-
state Iron and Steel Plant — Hubbard Steel Foundries — The
LiMBERT Works — Republic Iron and Steel Works — Makers of
Steel Tanks — Asphalt Electric Conduits — Electric Power
Plant — Rivet and Bolt Manufactory — A Large Subject — Stand-
ard Oil Plant at Whiting — Historical and Descriptive — Orig-
inal Owners of the Whiting Plat — First Builders op the Oil
Plant — Oil Cloth and Asphalt Factories — Gary, Young But
Quite Finished — Transportation by Land and Water — The Face
of Nature Changed — Some Big Facts About the Steel Mills —
American Sheet and Tin Plate Plant — Universal Portland
Cement Company — American Bridge Company, Ambridge — Gary
Bolt and Screw Works — Industries of the Future — Industrial

The great industrial belt of Lake County covers substantially the
northern third of its area, or North, Calumet and Hobart townships.



The greatest industrial plants are included in North and Calumet town-
ships, which embrace the cities of Hammond, Gary, East Chicago and
Whiting. At the rate that territory has been developing for the past
twenty years, it does not seem possible that the time can be long de-
ferred when these municipalities shall sink their local differences, their
natural and stimulating struggles for superiority, and merge into one
grand metropolis of which Indiana and the United States would be
proud. As to whether the Calumet region will ever be absorbed by what
is already the greatest interior city of the world, is a matter for specu-
lation projected into the further future.

Speaking in general terms, the municipalities of the Calumet region,
within the past twenty years, have increased in population from 9,000
to 63,000, or seven-fold; in 1900, they numbered nearly 20,000. Their
improvement in everything which goes to make people comfortable and
happy; to feed them both the good things of the body and spirit — this
transformation is simply a leap from crudeness to metropolitan life.

The Hohmans of Hammond

It was Hammond which gave birth to the industrial life of the Calu-
met region, and to trace it to its very beginning we must introduce the
Hohman family, of fine old Prussian stock and the pioneers of that part
of the county, which settled on the north side of the Grand Calumet
River in what is now North Hammond, in April, 1851.

Ernst W. Hohman, the head of these first comers to the Calumet
region, was well educated and democratic, and, as one of the young
Revolutionists of the '40s, left his native Prussia and went to London.
There he met a thrifty woman, born in Wales, and married her in
1849. A few days afterward, they set sail for America, arrived in New
York, August 20th of that year and continued west to Chicago.

Mr. Hohman was then thirty-two years of age and, like other sensible
Germans however well educated, had mastered a trade. He was a tailor,
but Chicago life in that line did not appeal to his longing for American
freedom ; so he went prospecting along the line of the Michigan Central
Railroad which was being projected south of the Grand Calumet. He
finally selected forty acres of land at a favorite river crossing, and with
his educated, agreeable and capable young wife, opened a tavern in a log
house which he erected for the purpose. Although at the time of their
coming Mrs. Hohman spoke neither German nor English, her husband
was a master of them both, as well as of French; so that the young
<3ouple had no difficulty in not only communicating with each other bu.t
with the travelers who "put up" at their hotel. They were friendly


and sociable, supplied good food and comfortable lodging, and made the
Hohmau House one of the best known hotels in the region.

Being confident that the locality would develop under the stimulus
of railroad building, Mr. Hohman made several purchases of land on
both sides the river until he owned nearly a thousand acres. He died
in 1873, after George H. Hammond, INIarcus M. Towle and other De-
troit capitalists had bought a tract on the south side of the river for
the great slaughter house which was Hammond's mainstay for nearly
twenty years.

All the children were born in the log-house inn near the State line,
and six of the offspring survive. The widow managed the estate during
her life, with the assistance of her elder' son, Charles G. Hohman, and,
as stated by a loyal friend : ' ' She proved equal to the task, and with an
open purse and willing hand did many things to aid in the early develop-
ment of Hammond. She built the first business ])lock of any importance,
the Hohman Opera House Block, and assisted in locating many indus-
tries. She was a devout Episcopalian, and by her death on June 15,
1900, St. Paul's Episcopal Church lost a constant attendant and the
chief contributor to its support."

Charles G. Hohman has been the active manager of the estate since
his mother's death in 1900, and as the later purchases of his father cov-
ered much of the present business center of Hammond it is one of the
most valuable in the Calumet region. The family name is stamped on
the city through its chief business thoroughfare, Hohman Avenue.

Other Pioneer Families

Not long after ]Mr. and Mrs. Hohman opened their tavern in the log
house situated on their forty-acre tract north of the river, William Sohl
and his wife (Mrs. Hohman "s sister) settled east of them on the Michi-
gan City road and opened a grocery store, with a side line of licjuors.
Long afterward, after Hammond became a city, forty acres of the Sohl
estate was divided among the children of the deceased couple and platted
as additions to the original site.

The third settler upon the present site of Hammond was J. Drecker,
who came about 1858, and was followed by perhaps a dozen other fam-
ilies who located in the neighborhood of the Ilohmans before the coming
oi the men who backed and built the slaughter house. Among the best
known of these were Patrick AV. Mullen and the Goodmans, who all lived
on the bank of the river along the INIichigan City road. "Sir. Mullen
finally opened a saloon in the city and was elected to the city council.
His sons became famous butchers and held world's records for quick


slaughtering, skinning and quartering; and while Hammond was one of
the leading centers of the beef trade in the Middle West, such champions
were heroes in their class.

Before the founding of the slaughter house the Mullens and the Good-
mans, the Ahlendorfs (nearest neighbors to the Hohmans) and nearly
all who resided along the Calumet earned a goodly share of their living
by trapping and spearing muskrats in the winter, and by acting as guides
and helpers of the Chicago hunters and iishermen. These occupations,
with the harvesting of ice, brought in considerable revenue to those who
were not cultivating land, or speculating in it, or establishing themselves
in various lines of primitive business.

Rise of the Fresh Beef Business

Now a new page for this section of the Calumet region is to be turned,
and the editor will allow the Hammond Daily News to perform the act
gracefully, in the following words:

"Previous to the year 1868 shipping fresh beef, poultry, butter and
eggs across the continent with any degree of certainty that the shipment
would arrive at its destination in good condition, was thought to be impos-
sible. In that year, however, it was demonstrated beyond all doubt that
by the use of refrigeration fresh beef could be transported around the
world if necessary, and arrive at its destination in perfect condition. To
the lamented George H. Hammond, of Detroit, is due the credit of this
discovery, and it came about in the following manner : In the year 1868
the Davis Brothers, who were at the time tish dealers located
in Detroit, invented a tish box in which the}' could ship fresh
fish from points on Lake Huron and Lake fSuperior to Detroit and
have them arrive in a good marketable condition. The box was a success
and Davis Brothers had it patented. Davis refrigerators 'as household
articles were made but were not a success, though their ability to refrig-
erate was never questioned. The work required to operate them and the
expense of the salt condemned them for domestic purposes.

' ' The same year that the Davis Brothers found that their box for ship-
ping tish was a success they were approached by George H. Hammond,
who was in the wholesale and retail fresh meat business in the same street.
Mr. Hammond thought the same principle of refrigeration might be
built into a car to carry fresh beef, and the Davis Brothers designed a
car. The Michigan Car Company of Detroit built the car after the
plans of the Davis Brothers.


Shipping Company Formed

"Duriug the tiint' the car was building an arraiigemeut was made by
Mr. Hammond with George W. Plumer and Marcus ]\L Towle to load
the car at Detroit with fresh beef for Boston. The car was loaded and
Marcus ]\L Towle went with it to Boston, where, after a trip consuming
six days, the car was opened in the presence of a number of railroad
men, Mr. Towle and ^Ir. Hammond. The weather had been very warm
during the trip, notwithstanding whicli the Iieef arrived in fine condi-
tion. A company, or rather a partnership was formed within the next
few days, and in this company George H. Hammond took one-third inter-

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 44)