The "Big Four" Passenger Depot
In 1851, the first railroad came to Anderson with depots at John Street and Madison Avenue and then at Jackson Street. It brought goods, people, and substantial growth to the community. Part of the Indianapolis and Bellfontaine Railroad, it was consolidated as the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad. Popularly known as the “Big Four”, it had its own depot between Meridian and Main Streets on Young Drive that by 1932 saw 8,760 passenger trains stopping at the depot.
This railroad gave the average citizen the opportunity to travel from Anderson to almost anywhere for any reason. It would also provide employment as stationmasters, telegraphers, porters, engineers, firemen, conductors, brakemen, and section hands to the working class of Anderson through the years.
With the growth of the automobile, passenger traffic on the railroad diminished greatly. Over the years, the “Big Four” was absorbed by a number of railroads, finally ending up as part of CSX Systems. In 1971, the last passenger train left the former “Big Four” depot. In 1980, the depot became a gift shop and then a performing arts center. In 1985, the Anderson Young Ballet Academy began leasing space ultimately becoming the Anderson Young Ballet Theatre. In 1994, it purchased the property as a permanent facility for the performing arts.