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Nostalgia & History > Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.

Date: 03/30/09 05:54
Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.
Author: wabash2800

I was working on this yesterday for a manuscript I'm finishing up on the last mixed train in Indiana--the Wabash's Gary Local (for the Wabash Railroad Historical Society). I remember my father telling me about this when I was a kid, but it wasn't until recently that I was able to find out the details. The mixed train ran between Montpelier, Ohio and Gary, Indiana on the Wabash Fourth District.

In 1937 Eddy, Indiana (named after a local property owner) was a small burg with just a country road crossing, passing siding, a few houses and general store. The location did not pan out for the Wabash so the entire depot was moved to Westville, Indiana in 1902 or 1903. Eddy was the scene of a disastrous head-on collision between a passenger and freight train in 1912.

Over the years folks forgot about the wreck but the story they did remember from miles around was that of Laura Ganger, the crippled daughter of a Wabash section worker. Laura had suffered from Polio since the age of six and loved to wave at the trains as they went by. Later she had a toggle switch with a light rigged up in her bedroom so she could signal a greeting to the crews at night. It didn't take long for the Wabash railroaders, namely the crew of the Gary Local, to inquire about who their little fan was.

On one occasion it was revealed that she needed surgery for a condition that threatened her health. The railroaders took up a collection and the local stopped at Eddy to deliver the purse. Her health improved and then the railroaders along the line would drop magazines and newspapers from their trains for her to pick up. And if any items missed their mark, the section workers would make sure that they were delivered to Laura. Sadly, her father succumbed to paralysis from a stroke and one day passed away. And again the mixed train stopped at Eddy, this time to deliver an arrangement of funeral flowers. Charlie Hoose, an engineer on the local, loved to stop the local at Eddy, drop off a basket of things his wife had made for Laura, let out a big toot from his steam locomotive, then head on his way.

But the most memorable event was the annual tradition around Christmas time of the local stopping at Eddy to drop off a collection for Laura taken up at Montpelier, Ohio and Tolleston, Indiana (west of Gary). This tradition was carried out at least into into WWII and reported in the Montpelier newspaper. Many of the Wabash railroaders that stayed at the Smith Hotel in Montpelier donated--some that did not work on the line that passed through Eddy.

(Eddy is located in northeast Indiana between Wolcottville and Topeka. Today, at that location, the railroad is long gone as is the general store. I think the few inhabitants there are Amish.)

Edited 16 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/09 05:53 by wabash2800.

Date: 03/30/09 12:38
Re: Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.
Author: SPGP9

This story proves, once again, that railroad men -the hard, crusty, rough-edged individuals that they are- can still be big-hearted human beings. A tip of the hat to all you guys out there that haul the freight, load the freight, dispatch the freight and work with or on the equipment that moves the freight. You're a great bunch of people.

Date: 03/30/09 18:11
Re: Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.
Author: wabash2800

An added note:

Today I started some genealogy research and determined that Laura passed away in 1994. Darn, I would have liked to have sat and talked to her about that time. Perhaps she passed away all alone in a nursing home? :( I'm going to attempt to find some living relatives and see if they have a photo. If I can find a photo within a reasonable time, I'll have it published in my article and also post it here. Photos of Eddy and the trains would be nifty too.

Date: 04/01/09 06:23
Re: Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.
Author: wabash2800

I must be having senior moments already in my 50's. I had meant to write Westville, Indiana but wrote Westfield.... It has since been corrected.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/09 06:29 by wabash2800.

Date: 02/26/11 06:32
Re: Eddy, Indiana and the Crippled Girl--A Tear Jerker.
Author: wabash2800

Here is a photo to go along with the story of Laura and her mother. It also appeared in the Wabash Railroad Historical Society Banner issue 68-69 on the last mixed train in Indiana that I cowrote. That issue published in 2009 is sold out.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/11 07:09 by wabash2800.

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