Indiana Railroad 65
|Single-end arch-roof lightweight high-speed
Indiana Railroad 65 was the first piece of equipment IRM ever acquired, becoming the museum’s “mother car” when the museum purchased it for preservation in 1953. When it was new in 1931 it was among the most modern interurban cars in the world, a lightweight coach designed for high-speed operation across the Indiana Railroad interurban network. Car 65 was one of the last interurban cars in use when IRR closed out operations in 1941. Museum volunteers have completely restored car 65 to its appearance while in service in Indiana in the 1930s.
FUN FACT: Car 65 became the museum’s first car in 1953 but it was actually saved from scrapping twice – and by the same man. When the Indiana Railroad quit in 1941, Howard Odinius tried to raise the money to save car 65 for posterity but couldn’t find enough support. So instead he talked an interurban line in Iowa into buying the car. Twelve years later when that railroad ended service and car 65 was endangered again, Odinius had another go at saving car 65. This time, he ended up founding IRM. Read more below.
COMPARE ME TO: Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 757, a heavy interurban car built just a year earlier. The North Shore car, built to a basic design 15 years old, is much heavier than car 65 and requires a two-man crew, making it more expensive to operate.
Indiana Railroad 65 Details
Year Built: 1931
Width: 8ft 9in
Height: 11ft 2in
Weight: 52200 lbs
Motors: 4 GE 706B1
Trucks: General Steel Casting
Description: Single End / Double Truck / Arch Roof / Lightweight
Condition: Complete / restored / operational
Indiana Railroad 65 Ownership History
1931-1941 – Indiana Railroad #65
1941-1953 – Cedar Rapids & Iowa City #120
1953-present – Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL
The Founding of IRM
This car, Indiana Railroad 65, is the “mother car” of the Illinois Railway Museum, the first piece of equipment acquired on behalf of the museum. The Indiana Railroad was the last of dozens of electric interurban railways that once criss-crossed Indiana and Ohio.
When it finally abandoned all operations in 1941 one of its former motormen, Howard Odinius, tried to purchase car 65 to preserve for posterity. Car 65 and the others of its type were only a decade old. Fast, quiet, comfortable and efficient, they represented the apex of interurban car design. But Odinius was unable to raise the money, so instead he contacted the Cedar Rapid & Iowa City (CRANDIC) interurban line in Iowa. He persuaded them that car 65 would make a useful addition to their roster. They bought the car, renumbered it 120, and operated it through central Iowa for another twelve years in daily service.
By the time the CRANDIC abandoned passenger service in 1953, Howard Odinius was a motorman on the North Shore Line in Chicago but hadn’t lost his interest in the Indiana Railroad. This time he was able to assemble a group of ten men who each contributed $100. They purchased car 65 and moved it to a foundry in North Chicago, Illinois. Odinius and the others also created the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (the museum dropped the “Electric” in 1961).
With a single interurban car sitting in a foundry yard, the original ten founders likely couldn’t have imagined what their venture would become, but within a decade the museum had outgrown its North Chicago home and had to relocate to Union. The 500 pieces of rail equipment, 250 acres of land and thousands of members of which the Illinois Railway Museum can now boast all have their origins in this interurban car, ten men and $1,000 in 1953. Learn more about the museum’s history here.