Brookville and the Railroad
The coming of the railroad in 1852 established the foundation for the
growth of Brookville. The surrounding villages were platted earlier,
had larger populations, and included more businesses. In 1846 the
Greenville and Miami Railway Company was chartered and a right-of-way
secured from Dayton to Greenville. The right-of-way passed through
what would become the village of Brookville.
General Anthony Waynes troops cleared a former animal path and Indian
trail for easier travel in 1793. This widened trail became known as
the Slant Road or Military Road, which is the present day
Brookville-Pyrmont and Brookville-Salem Roads. Later travelers used
this road to journey between Eaton and Salem (now Clayton). The road
crossed Wolf Creek near the present Main Street, and north of this
location Warren Esterbrook established a general store in 1831. Work
began on this new rail line in 1848 with one of the construction camps
located in the area. With the railroad a reality, there was a need for
housing and business places. Using the railroad survey lines, Jacob
Flory laid out the first plat in 1850. Warren Esterbrook had become so
successful that the village of Brookville was named after him.
As work progressed on the railroad, houses and businesses were built
along Main Street from the railroad right-of-way to Wolf Creek
Turnpike. There was a need for a railroad waiting room. Benjamin Baker
built the first business building along the railroad tracks at the
intersection of Salem and Liberty Streets (now Mulberry Street) to
house his general store. He became the first railroad station agent,
and the first waiting room was located in his general store.
Following the completion of the tracks from Dayton to Greenville, the
D & G Railroad Company was ready for travel. The grand opening was
held on June 10, 1852 and people gathered to watch and wave to the
many persons who rode the first train from Dayton through Brookville
to Greenville. Later in the same year, the tracks were extended to
Union City and became known as the Dayton and Union (D & U). In 1852
the Dayton and Western Railroad Company completed its tracks as far as
Dodson. In 1853 the Dayton and Western line was extended to Richmond,
Indiana and on to the Great West. Service during the first year was
reportedly irregular, and passengers going to Dayton by train for the
day often were compelled to stay overnight or walk home. The influence
of the railroad on the growth of Brookville through the mid-1900s
cannot be over-stated. During the early years, the waiting room (later
the depot) was the center for most all business entering and leaving
In 1863 Isaac Hay built a large brick warehouse at the corner of
Market Street and the railroad tracks (area now bordered by Sycamore
Street and Hay Avenue.) The waiting room was moved to this location
and Mr. Hay became the station agent serving until 1870. John Bernard
served the following ten years. John H. Smith was the telegraph
operator, ticket and freight agent from 1880 to 1882. In 1882 David C.
Williamson became the owner of the building and served as the agent
for the next 18 years through 1899.
On September 28, 1899, a special village council meeting was held to
consider the building of a depot at the corner of Hay Avenue and the
recently platted Cusick Avenue. Council gave its approval and on
January 15, 1900, the depot (western part of the present building) was
opened housing a waiting room, agent office, and a small freight room.
Mr. Williamson resigned and Jesse Johnson became the agent and served
until 1905, Reuben Piatt, the next agent, served until 1913. The agent
for 1914 to 1916 was Mr. Mefford. T. R. Smith came in 1917 and served
Brookville was the largest and most important village in the northwest
section of Montgomery County. The need for a larger freight room was
apparent. In 1918 the present large freight room was added to the
original depot. A new agent Vance Burba arrived in 1924 and stayed
until 1926. Fred Knierim who remained during the Depression and World
War II followed him. Mr. Knierim retired near the end of 1945 and Paul
Kahl became the new and the last station agent at the depot. With less
and less shipping by rail, the depot was closed in 1974.
A tragedy involved the depot on Labor Day of 1945. The Spirit of St.
Louis Special train and an automobile collided at the Albert Road
crossing. Many passenger cars were derailed along Cusick Avenue and
one of the engines narrowly missed crashing into the structure.
last passenger train to Greenville was in 1931 and all passenger
service was stopped in the 1940s.