Focus on Fostoria - Oct1005

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Published on 10/09/05 in the Fostoria Focus
Historical Society members get on board the learning train
Focus Correspondent
Back in the day The Nickel Plate depot on South Union Street as it looked in the heyday of rail travel in Fostoria. According to Professor Mark Camp’s book, roughly a dozen depots served Fostoria in the early 1900s.

Just as passengers once gathered at railroad depots to board the train, 25 members and guests of the Fostoria Area Historical Society gathered at the museum to figuratively get on board Professor Mark Camp’s presentation on “Railroad Depots of Northwest Ohio” on Sept. 25. Camp teaches geology at the University of Toledo and is a director of the Railroad Station Historical Society. He’s been interested in railroad depots for over 40 years.

“I actually developed my interest from model railroading. When I was a kid, my dad and I built a layout,” he said.

Then one day in the early 1960s, his mother drove him out to Curtice, near Toledo, to take pictures of some old locomotives.

“While we were there, I saw a little depot and photographed that. I thought it would be interesting,” he said. “That’s how it began.

” Camp’s PowerPoint presentation focused on depots located in or near Fostoria on lines that passed through town.

Railroad stations and railroad depots aren’t necessarily the same thing. A station is a geographical point on the line. A depot is an actual structure built at a station. Most depots have a platform along the track. They also generally have two distinctive features. One is a significant overhang to provide some shelter. The second is a bay window which allows the ticket agent or telegrapher to see up and down the track. This person might also operate the depot’s order board, or signal, to tell the engineer to stop, proceed or slow down.

Camp has written a book, “Railroad Depots of Northwest Ohio.” The 128-page volume contains several pictures of Fostoria’s old depots which he used in his presentation.

The B&O depot on South Main Street, now used by CSX, was opened in 1907. It closed in 1971 and reopened to passengers when Amtrak stopped here from 1990-95 and 1997-2005.

The Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo depot was on Sandusky Street near the Lake Erie & Western crossing. There was also a detached building for the signal operator and a small freight depot which still stands.

A distinctive feature of the CHV&T depot was an extensive overhang off the front that was supported by five posts.

The Lake Erie & Western depot on North Street, now used by the Camp Fire Boys and Girls, was built in 1879. Passenger service between Fostoria and Sandusky ended in 1929. After freight service ended, Rupp & Riggs feed store used the depot until the 1970s.

The Nickel Plate depot was on South Union Street. A 1910 photograph shows about a dozen and a half people waiting as a train pulls in. A water tower was located next to the depot. It was torn down in 1967.

Other area depots had their unique features.

The B&O depot in North Baltimore had an octagonal second-story tower so the operator had a clear view of the track. The B&O depot in Willard was a thing of beauty. A long, two-story brick structure, the depot had a restaurant and sleeping rooms.

The Nickel Plate depot in Miller City was small and undistinguished looking, but it had an impact on Fostoria history.

At the conclusion of Camp’s presentation, folks shared some of their recollections of train travel. Doc Lehmann said, “If it wasn’t for the depot in Miller City, I wouldn’t be here.

” It seems Doc’s dad lived here in Fostoria. He’d take the train to Miller City to court Doc’s mom. The train would slow down, but wouldn’t stop so Doc’s dad had to jump off.

When it was time to come home, the train slowed down so he could hop aboard. Doc’s dad did a good job jumping on and off moving trains. He did a good job convincing Doc’s mom to marry him.

That’s how Doc got here and so that depot in Miller City turned out to be a very good thing for Fost