Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

We ran across several interesting items in the Warsaw Daily Times of 1909 concerning the early history of the Winona Interurban railway. We have mentioned in this column before that the interurban company was financed and managed by the same directors who also controlled Winona assembly. It was the hope of the directors that the profits of the railway company would help finance the chatauqua and other programs put on by the Winona assembly. In fact, the interurban company was only one of a number of extra activities carried on by the Winona directors.

The Winona Interurban company originated in 1903, when a line from Warsaw to Winona Lake was put in operation. Three years later the Warsaw to Goshen line was completed and a few years later the Warsaw to Peru line was added to the system.

The Winona directors, being very devout people, were careful to insist that a strict observance of the Sabbath be followed at Winona and in all Winona activities. As a consequence the railway cars were not permitted to operate on Sunday.

In 1909 a suit was brought in the U. S. District court at Indianapolis by the Electric Installation Co., of Chicago, to compel the running of cars on the Sabbath, because of the waste on account of the road not operating on that day. The Winona company filed a demurer, but this was overruled by District Judge Anderson. The Winona directors then voted in favor of running cars on Sunday, March 7, 1909. In making this decision the directors made the statement that "the gates of the Winona grounds, however, will remain closed and a strict observance of the Sabbath will be the policy at Winona."

Another item in the 1909 paper tells of an interesting race. "Passengers on the south-bound car, which was due to leave Goshen at 6:30 p.m. enjoyed a race with a Big Four train. The two trains left Goshen at the same time and when Warsaw was reached the interurban was about half a mile in the lead. The Big Four train was a freight drawn by two engines and with orders to run without stops. The interurban was crowded with passengers, most of whom were distributed at county stops, so that the two passed and repassed at least half a dozen times."

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Jan. 9, 1954