This summer, with the overpasses completed crossing Meridian, and more multi-purpose paths created, my wife and I have been riding from our home in west Carmel to the Monon Trail and then north and south. Riding the trail is something special for me.
My grandfather, Albert Alfred Wallace, was a young man growing up in Monon, Ind. To see the world he joined the U.S. Navy. He ended up working in the engine room of one of the ships in the fleet commanded by Admiral George Dewey. Under the command of Dewey, the navy won the battle of Manilla Bay in a decisive victory and helped the Philippines gain independence from Spain.
Shortly after the war ended my grandfather came back to Monon with the skills of knowing how to operate coal-fired steam engines. Since these were still in service at the turn of the 20th century, he got a job as an engineer on the Monon Railroad. For 50 years my grandfather engineered trains from Chicago to Cincinnati and Louisville and back, and up and down the state on the tracks of the Monon Railroad.
So as I ride the trail, I imagine my grandfather chugging along, watching out the locomotive’s side window, and keeping his eye on the rails ahead. I wonder what he saw back then, and what changes he may have seen. I look at large trees off the right and left, and think that those trees were there and seen by my grandfather in the first half of the 20th century. Riding the Monon is a very meaningful experience for me and I am very grateful for the folks that made this possible.