The Monon Railroad tracks were laid through Carmel in 1883. “Monon” was a Potawatomie Indian word meaning “swift running”. The Monon depot had two large rooms. One was a public waiting room with benches for seating and a ticket window. The other was a freight room with two large sliding doors on either side of the building. One door opened to the tracks and the other to a loading platform behind the depot.
The railroad connected Carmel to the rest of the country. Carmel residents could ride to the larger depots, called terminal stations, in Indianapolis and Chicago, and there buy tickets for journeys on “long haul” railroads all over the country.
Mail was delivered to and picked up from the post office in Carmel on specially outfitted postal cars. A metal pole with a swinging arm was used to load and unload the mail bags. Monon freight trains brought a wide variety of merchandise to Carmel and shipped goods like lumber, milk, grain and livestock from Carmel businesses.
In 1890 there was a terrible accident on the Monon. A bridge collapsed, and the train fell into the creek below. The stoves that heated the passenger car started a fire. Six people, including two children died and twenty-three others were injured.
By the time the train service stopped in 1974, the Monon Depot building was in bad shape. Donations from school children helped pay for the restoration of the building in the 1980s. It now serves as the Carmel Clay Historical Society’s Monon Depot Museum and sits next to the Monon Trail.