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Fostoria railroad history is rich
Thursday, February 23, 1989


Pix #1 - The only know photo of a COLDWATER RAILROAD locomotive. While the mansfield, coldwater and Lake Michigan was being built through Fostoria in the 1870', another segment known as "The Montieth to Allegan (Michigan)" sigment of the road was completed in september, 1871 by contractor Joseph Fisk. The eleven and one half miles was the only portion of the coldwater built and operated in MIchigan. the reference indicates that Fisk built and operated in Michigan. The reference indicates that Fisk built more miles of railroad (over one thousand) in the midwest thatn any other contractor. On June 19, 1871, the coldwater officially took over control of this line. (This information from James Winslow: Pennsy Historical Society.)

Pix #2 - Fostoria "away back when," showing its reilraods and its "Town Hall" in corner.

Pix #3 - This is a copy of a very old railroad map showing what railroads existed in Ohio in 1860. While theprint is very small it can be recognized that the "fremont & Indiania" (later the Lake Erie and Estern) was the first railroad to pass through fostoria. Reader will also not that a short segment of Ohio's first Railroad: The Mad River and Lake Erie, came quite close to early Fostoria, but did not pass through., it is shown passing through Carey, with a branch line heading northwest throught Vanlue and into Findlya. The closest it came to Fostoria was Vanlue.

(POTLUCK NOTE: The author of this column and don Kinnaman, a former fostorian, but a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, for many years, have kept up correspondence, don, in his interesting letters often reminisces about his days in Fostoria, and some of the historical data which makes good reading for today's younger generation as well as the older readers.

In one of our exchanges, don "drew-a-bead" on the subject of reilreads, and had some good ideas for an article, even refenences for data. I think don thought we could cooperatively do the article,.

Knowing don's ability in gathering data then putting it together, I suggested he carry the ball and do the whole job. He did an excellent job as readers will see in the first of a series starting today.

My contribution to this reiaroad series will come later, at the end of the series, in which I will reminsce about my personal recollections, having lived int he vicinity of all the various reilrads: LE& W, B&O. JHopcking Valley and New York central aor T&OC as it was often referred to.

At a later peroiod in my life, I travelled extensively via all of the steam lines going north, south, east and west and thoroughtly enjoyed rail service.

Unfortunately those days are gone as far as passenger service is related.)

Mention the owrds: "trains" or "railroads" to today's ovservers and the first thing that may come to their mind is "dirt, noise and unexplained delays at the corssings." BUt more thatn 150 years ago, these words were fast becoming "household words" as communnities everywhere were vying through financial, pittical or double talk means to get this form of quick, smooth trahsportation to their comminity interests. They were beginning to realize more and more the importance of the reilroad bringing industry, commerce and prosperity to their area.

Railroads born in 1820-30's

this brand new idea in moving passengers and freight by rail was beginning to take shape in the ease with the organization and construction of the nations first railroad: The Baltimore and Ohio. The date was the late 1820' and 1830's. At about the same time pioneers and settlers were clearing land in north3estern Ohio for a commyunity soon to be called Risdon. names for col. O.C. Risdon, the community had its town Square a twhat today is know as Summit and Countyline streest. summit with its park0like boulevard setting became Risdon's Main Street. Within a shore distance to the south another community was springin up know as Rome. (This riter does not know if the name came from the city in Italy, or who named it.) both communities beagn to gow toward each other an in 1854 combined in the city of fostoria. fostoria was named after Charles foster, an early Ohio bovernor. It has been said that foster had a general merchandise store: Thus Toster plus store compounded to gether gives the city "part" of its name. since the store was n "Emporium of sotts," I sould surmise the singular of this would be emporia. which woul dcomplete the name.

In those early days, memn in all walks of life were searching and seeking better transportation met;hods to get their goods to market. Turnpike wagon roads, marked trails and gbarges carrying waterwasys, and canalls were being surveyed and built. The coming of the raeilraod would be relatively quicker to survey and build, and get into operation tahn the canal methods, whic it would soon make obsolete.

Fostoria destined to be RR center?

When Rome and Risdon were serveyed by early platting engineers (including my great-great-grandfather: Gideon Jones), I wonder how much thought was given to the "strategic location" of these two communities which would ultimately become Fostoria. Neighte community was destined to become a county seat, no canals were planned for the area and the nearest wagon turnpike was some distance awasy. The only real feature was good agricultural land and the village lay close to the boundaries of Seneca, Hancock and wood counties. It probably could be argued that they man (ior may not) have had information then that Fostoria was really well centrally located. One can take a pair of dividers and set for scale marked 100 would find the outer circle cncompassing larger cities like Detroit, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Cleveland and Akron. Half this distance would include Toledo, Sanducky, Marion, Mansfield and Lima. Perhaps the early Railroad Planners knew something the local curveyors did not know, since this "Center point" would make a great interchange point for their railroad.

The first railroad west of the Appalachians was the Lake Erie and Mad River which was originated through planning in 1832. It was surveyed to operate between Sandusky and an area near Cincinnati. Unfortunately it did not go through Fostoria, but a brance which ran from Carey to Findlay, passed through Vanlue, a few miles southwest of Fostoria. An early map of the Pennsylvania Railroad (1860) shows the Mad River Line, which by this date had changed its name to the Sandusky, Daytonn and Cincinnati Railroad.

(Cintinued next week.)



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