Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Transfer Corner

by Tom Castaldi

The intersection of Main and Calhoun streets was the busiest corner in Fort Wayne from the 1890s to the 1960s, for it was here, at the “Transfer Corner,” that all the trolleys (and later buses) converged from their various routes.

Originally, the intersection was called the “Turntable Corner” because a rotating track had been installed in the street to direct each departing trolley onto its assigned outbound trip.  This was removed in 1888 and replaced by a network of stationary tracks.

On January 6, 1872, the first street railway, or trolley line, began operation with a great parade led by a car pulled by a single horse carrying twelve passengers at a smooth, steady pace.

These horsecars could move in either direction, so that when the car reached the end of the line, the driver simply unhitched the horse and led it around to the other end of the trolley, re-hitched it, and started the return run to the “turntable corner.”  By 1890 efforts to electrify the street railways became feverish, and some extraordinary experiments in power trolleys took place in Fort Wayne.

Successful electrification in 1892 used overhead wires, powered by a new generating plant located on Chestnut Street on the city’s east side.  By the 1940s, electrically powered “trolley buses” began to replace the trolley cars, the last one of which ran on January 27, 1947.  In 1960, the trolley buses were replaced by diesel-powered buses.

Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail,” which is broadcast at 6:35 a.m., 8:35 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Mondays on WBOI, 89.1 FM; and “Historia Nostra” heard on WLYV-1450 AM and WRRO 89.9 FM. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog, “Our Stories,” at

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