Reuben Wells: Hoosier Locomotive of Distinction (HI-14)
Begun in 1836, Indiana's first railroad, the Madison & Indianapolis, reached Columbus in 1844 and Indianapolis in 1847. At the south end was the Madison Cut, an engineering marvel for the times.

Opened to traffic in 1841, the railroad used eight horses driven in tandem to pull each car up the 7,012-incline north of Madison. Cars were let down by gravity and controlled by handbrakes. In November 1848, a cog track was put into service, and rack and pinion locomotives handled the cars.

The Reuben Wells, designed and built in the M & I shops at Jeffersonville, was the first locomotive to successfully operate on the grade by adhesion. It went into service in 1868 and was actively used until about 1905. This pioneer woodburner, a gift of the Pennsylvania Railroad, can be seen at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis.

Our Hoosier State Beneath Us: Historical


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