New Big Four Railroad
Dedicated in Sept. 2018
In 2017, with the Approval of the Wabash Parks Board, a new sign recreating the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railroad, the Big Four, was added to the Paradise Spring Riverwalk display. Kyle Coble, of Auburn, IN, has researched the history of the Wabash Railroads for over 10 years and has created this outstanding map. Chuck Cable of Cable Sign Co, LaFontaine, crafted and constructed the sign.
The railroad shops at Wabash were built and put into operation in 1873 by the Cincinnati Wabash and Michigan Railroad. In 1892 the C.W. & M. became part of the Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis railroad nicknamed the Big Four. The railroad shops were important to the railroad as they provided maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of steam engines, freight and passenger cars, as well as maintenance of way cards. They were also an important business to Wabash as they were at one time the largest employer in town. The shops burned down at the end of 1894 causing great concern among the citizens of Wabash that they would not be rebuilt in Wabash. Fortunately for Wabash, the new shops were rebuilt in Wabash the following year. The shops were not to last forever. As the railroad grew and became part of the New York Central railroad the shops at Wabash became redundant and the shops were closed in 1925. Although operation had ended, the C.C.C.& St. L. maintained a water and sand tower as well as coaling capabilities for refueling steam engines until the late fifties. The majority of the buildings were torn down in the thirties, however a small part of the main shop building, a large “U” shaped brick building, still stands on the south west corner of Paradise Spring Park, on the corner of Allen and Canal Street. It was the part of the building that contained the machine shop. by Kyle Coble