Lagrange, IN St. Joe Valley Car Shops Fire, Nov 1911

Lagrange, Ind., Nov. 11 -- The St. Joe Valley car barns and machine shops, in the northwest part of Lagrange, were destroyed by fire tonight with a total loss estimated at $30,000. The origin of the flames is a mystery. The night watchman was some distance away when he discovered fire coming from the roof of the building and by the time the fire department could respond the entire building was a mass of flames, which fanned by heavy wind, spread quickly to all parts of the large structure.

Within the barns and shops the flames destroyed two motor cars and one locomotive, which could not be saved. This leaves the Valley company but two motor cars and two locomotives, which were saved from destruction as a result of being out on the line at the time.

The loss is a heavy one to the St. Joe company and to the city of Lagrange. The shops, which were 200 feet long by 10 [?] feet wide, and were constructed partly of brick and partly of frame, it is learned may not be rebuilt here. They were constructed seven years ago and the company recently completed its line through from Elkhart to Angola. Extensive further improvements and extensions had been planned. These, however, will probably be completed. The St. Joe line is owned by A.G. Bucklen of Elkhart. He was in Chicago to-night and could not be located on the telephone.

The flames started mysteriously. The watchman was in the yards coaling up an engine which was to be sent out on its run. He was some distance from the building, when he saw the flames start from the roof. He hastened to spread the alarm, but the wind fanned the fire which rendered the building [illegible] furnace within a few minutes. Nothing could be done to save any of the contents and the fire department and people who turned out en masse to aid the men found themselves powerless.

The fire started at 8:18 o'clock and in a short time the building and cars were a mass of ashes. The St. Joe Valley Railway Company was one of the few to power a line with gasoline motor cars. ...

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 12 Nov 1911