Source: Ruth Brubaker, LAKETON--YESTERDAY AND TODAY FOR THE YEARS 1836-1976 (1976), p. 57-59.


This was not a town as we think of towns. It was where the Wabash and Erie tracks cross.

There are many facts of interest that people remember and its location was as close as Ijamsville.

At one time there was a hotel, water tower, signal tower and round house there. At one time twenty-four to thirty passenger trains a day passed through North Manchester. One could even get tickets at Newton to wherever you wanted to go. Also the telegraph was there.

Water was pumped from the river for the water tower during the time of the round house. The pumps were operated by Mr. Manefee, later Mr. Fulton and Buck Whittaker.

The round house had stalls for a considerable number of locomotives. Albert Rooney served as hostler, and with helpers curried the engines, fed them, housed them over night, and had them ready for the next run.

People speculated that those towns would all be built together and become the railroad metropolis of the middle west.

The water tower has been gone for some time but there has been one south of the refinery that the Erie trains used. One can still see the cement pillar it stood on.

Freeman Fox had the hotel at Newton.

Newton was not to grow too much for the Erie and Wabash were at odds on the lease. Wabash built a line from Montpelier to Chicago so this was the downfall of Newton.

In 1919 one of the worse train wrecks happened at this junction. An Erie train westbound had stopped with the caboose a short distance west of the tower at the Vandalia crossing. A second train from the east could not stop due to air brakes not working and smashed into the rear of the standing freight.

This tore up a lot of track and mashed or damaged twenty some cars. It killed Charles A. South, a Vandalia engineer, and injured Dwight Harbaugh. South, Harbaugh and a brakeman were in the tower. The crash took the tower down and piled Erie cars on top. Charles Henricks had left the tower only minutes before to go to the tool shed. Another brakeman at the door saw what was happening and jumped clear. The crew on the other train was not injured as they had jumped clear also.

The tower was rebuilt of cement block and it still stands. Even if everything else had gone the tower has been in use. It has been automatic for many years. Mr. Wallace Frederick was the last telegraph operator to be there and he retired after forty-one years with the railroad in 1960.

For a time freight was dropped at Newton and trucks could pick it up. But this also came to a stop.