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100 Years after James Brooks

It was by chance that the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Monon's predecessor, the New Albany and Salem, fell during the John Barriger's presidency of the Hoosier Line. But, in fact, the timing could not have been more perfect. Barriger was a man who took advantage of any opportunity to promote the Monon, and with a year passed since the CI&L's reorganization, there was indeed a reason to celebrate.

(Left) Downtown Hammond depot,
circa 1947. These photos were taken
during the 1947 Centennial celebration
of the Monon.
(Center) Pictured is the William Mason
a 4-4-0 used by the Monon during the
celebration.
(Right) Troop kitchen #201 and the
William Mason at Hammond.

    

New Albany Celebration

The Centennial Celebration of the Hoosier Line centered on a four day festival at New Albany, the hometown of New Albany and Salem founder James Brooks. From July 27 through July 30, 1947, New Albany held festivities: Homecomer's Day, Exhibitors' Day, Youth Day and Transportation Day. Concurrently, the Monon began a four day celebration of its own: a Centennial Train Show that stopped in 20 Indiana towns that started in Hammond and ended in New Albany.

                      

(Left) Centenial Train arrives at Bloomington. (Right) Assembled crowd at Bloomington

To re-create the era of the Hoosier Line's origins, Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 William Mason and two period passenger cars were borrowed and ran from Hammond to New Albany. Supported by an the all-male "Monon Quartet", female singers in period costumes, songstress Marie Lawler and, of course, John Barriger, Monon's traveling train show made its way to New Albany for an extravagant finale during New Albany's Transportation Day. Along the way, the William Mason's train employed loudspeakers to fill Hoosier towns with music. The Director of the Centennial Celebration, John A. McGee had written 8 songs for the event. These songs were recorded and released as a record album.

  

(Left and Right) New Albany parade

At New Albany on Transportation Day, the city held a parade (complete with a Monon float), draped Monon red banners across the streets and hosted dignitaries, including Indiana Governor Ralph Gates. The William Mason was joined by Monon's new streamlined Hoosier and by Southern Railway's ancient "Best Friend Of Charlestown" which had steamed with two open coaches across the KI&T bridge from Louisville.

At the end of the festivities, it was estimated that over 100,000 people had come trackside to join in John Barriger's biggest party, The Monon Centennial Celebration.

-Steve and Gary Dolzall, Monon, The Hoosier Line-

 

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