Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Before IRM

 We just received this picture from our friend Bill Stewart.  It shows the late Dr. Howard Blackburn, one of IRM's founding members, with car 65 in 1941.  Bill says:

The site is the ramshackle car barn at Columbus (by then not much more than a few concrete walls), just a few miles north of the site of the 1941 blind-curve wreck that brought service to a close on this last segment of the former IRR Louisville line (ex-Interstate Public Service, previously Indianapolis Columbus & Southern Traction).  Doc Blackburn, you may recall, was one of those who answered Howard Odinius' call in 1953 and wrote a check to help make IRR 65 the first accession of the then-Illinois Electric Railway Museum.

Of particular note to preservation and restoration types: the crude, seemingly rushed rendering of the car number above the center windshield.  Must have been done late on a Friday afternoon!


Bruce Duensing said...

DR Howard Blackburn is a name I have encountered more often than not when doing research and he is truly one of the founding fathers who preserved the history of the interurbans for which I am grateful.
I can only hope he continues to be remembered in the future.

Randall Hicks said...

Bill Stewart writes:

Bruce, thanks for your thoughtful remarks. Howard Blackburn was, I suspect, the only practicing radiologist whose office walls were filled with photographs of interurban cars. He was an inspiration to many of us, a true gentleman, a dedicated railroad historian and preservationist, and a great friend. Following his death in 2007, several of us chartered an IRM excursion in his memory aboard, of course, IRR 65; we called it "Doc Blackburn's Dixie Flyer," a reflection of Howard's longtime residency in both Louisville and Indianapolis, the end points of that once-famous traction limited and a regular route for the 65. The present-day operating condition of the 65 and the success of today's IRM as a whole are good reflections of the commitments of Howard Blackburn and the other pioneers of the railroad preservation movement, those who provided the funds and acted while there was still time to preserve the artifacts we consider priceless today. And
you're right -- those pathfinders deserve to be remembered in perpetuity by all who love those now-historic trolleys and trains.

Bill Stewart