The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 3, Page 24.


Patrick T. Clifford Lost $75,000 Building "Pennsy" From City To Wheeler, Ohio

One of the most important events in the development of Valparaiso was the coming of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, now known as the Pennsylvania Lines.

Patrick T. Clifford, founder of the P. T. Clifford and Son Company, of this city, and father of P. W. Clifford, president of the Farmers' State bank of this city, lost fully $75,000 in building the line to Valparaiso.

The elder Clifford had the contract for the section from the cemetery, east of the city, to Wheeler, Ohio, where he had constructed 80 miles of the railroad. Mr. Clifford brought more than 500 workmen, many of whom settled here and reared families.

P. T. Clifford was worth $100,000 when he came to Valparaiso. In a box he carried $40,000 in gold. He had much equipment, including horses and oxen.

The railroad venture in the early days was not a howling success. Mr. Clifford lost fully $75,000. Hundreds of acres of land north and west of the city was given by him to men whom he owed wages at 50 cents on the dollar. Some of this land is still owned by descendants of the men who received it back in those days from Mr. Clifford.

A judgment of $72,000 was obtained by Mr. Clifford against the railroad, but not one cent was ever collected.

Later on in the days when railroads were able to pay their bill, the P. T. Clifford company was able to recover some of their losses. The company had a large part in the elevation of the railroads in the Chicago districts.

The building of the Pennsylvania railroad was projected early in 1853. On April 7 of that year, Mr. Pierce and Mr. Anthony returned from Fort Wayne with the cheering news that work on the road would begin in a month, and that it was expected to have trains running to Chicago by the beginning of winter. This "cheering news was premature."

In September, 1853, a new board of directors was elected, S. I. Anthony, of Valparaiso, being one of the number, and the new board announced it hoped to have the road completed by the fall of 1854. Again the work was delayed by various obstacles and three years elapsed before the work really was actively begun.

In August, 1856, some eastern men became interested in the project, a new board of directors was chosen, and the name of the road was changed to the "Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago." Early in 1857 the contracts for construction were let, and about April 1 work was commenced at Valparaiso. Later in the summer it became rumored that an effort was being made to have the road leave the original survey and run by way of LaPorte. This aroused indignation of the Valparaiso people, and late in July a meeting, T. A. E. Campbell, presiding, and a resolution was passed urging all people of Porter county to get behind the project.

T. A. E. Campbell, S. C. Haas, J. N. Skinner, Myron Powell, Philip Hall and George Earl were appointed a committee to canvass Porter and Lake counties and the southern part of LaPorte for money to prepare the road bed for laying the track.

Not long after the Valparaiso meeting the work was suspended "for want of funds," but the contractors were given the privilege of continuing the work, provided they would take the bounds of the company at seventy-five cents on the dollar. The committee used the funds collected and subscribed to take the bonds and the work went on according to the original plans. The track was completed to Valparaiso about the first of October, 1858, and was finished to Chicago a year or so later. The first train run over the new railroad was an excursion to Chicago for employes of the railroad.

John N. Skinner and Company is credited with making the first shipment of wheat from here over the railroad. Fifteen cents per bushel was saved by the new form of transportation. Previous to the coming of the "iron horse" farm products were hauled to Michigan City for shipment by either boat or rail. George W. Powell was the first freight agent here.

On April 14, 1859, a new time table was announced. A new train was added, making our passing each way.

W. G. Windle, of this city, was an engineer on the Pennsylvania railroad for many years. At the time of the Chicago fire in 1871 his train was approaching Chicago when the fire was at its height.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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