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Fostoria's first railroad was Lake Erie and Western
Thursday, March 2, 1989


Pix #1 - This map mainly shows the Mansfield, coldwater and Lake Michigan R.R., and the Pittsburgh, ft. Waynbe and chicago R.R., including the various towns served.

Pix #2 - This map shows other railroads that served Fostoria during a later era, which older readers will still remember them, and the passenger service they provided.

(Author's Note: Today's article is the second in the series about the various railroads in Fostoria many years ago, reseqrch eand written by don Kinnaman, former fostoria resident, now living in Phoenix, Arizona.)


In the early years of the 1850's, fostoria,'s first railroad became a reality. started and financed in Fremont, the early name of the Lake earie and western was The Fremont and Indiana. The Lake Erie and Western went through serveral controlling managements and changes of name and served the area well until it was torn up between Fostoria and Fremont in the 1960's. It might be of intersest to some that trackage through Fremont remains in good condition and is servide dby the old Wheeling & Lake Erie brand of the Norfolk southern. The line is not used beyond the soup plant on Fremont's east side, but continues thorough a weed grown right-of-way to Erlin, where the rails stop.

fostoria became RR center later

The plat maps of the 1870's supplied by Dennis W. Reffner of the fostoria Engineering and Zoning Department show the addition of more rail lines to cross and interchange with the LE & W. One of these was the C&T, which stood for Columbus and Toledo. When the coal fields were tapped in southern Ohio, the line was renamed the Toledo, columbus and Hocking Valley. It was then controlled by the chesapeake and Ohio, and finally CSX Lines. Another line shown on the plat nap was the OC ewhich stood for The Ohio central. This was built sometime in the 1860' or 1870's an dbecame the Toledo and OHio Central, the New Yourk Central,m Penn central and conrail. It was the second modern-day line to be torn out through fostoria. Paralleling the baltimore & Ohio is another railroad, whick very few Fostorians know anything about. This was the MCW&LM RR whick stood for The Mansfield, Coldwater and Lake Michigan Rail road. We'll come back to this very interesting history of this "little known" railroad.

Tostoria was blesse din the 1880's with another fine railroad:" The Nickel Plate Road, whick like the other railroad lines that transversed fostoria, and exchanged rail traffic with the other lines. All of the lines mentioned were operated by steam powered locomotives. the baltimore and Ohio was probably the first line to pass through fostoria with a dieselized name passenter train: |the capitol Limited.

Eklectric trolley cars also here

In the closing years of the 1800's, another form of the transportation came upon the scene. The Electric Interurban. First to carry passengers on a more frequent basis than the steam railroads, it would also carry freight in lighter weight freight cars. They had the advantage of coming right into a community's downtown to take on and/or discharge passengers. As we all know history so well, the demise of this big electric system as the aotomobile. early city maps of the fostoria area show all six of the steam lines and three electric lines passing through the city. The electriacs, of course, were the Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay, the largest elecric reail line. The Tiffin, fostoria, and Eastern, one of the firest electric rail lines in the ocuntry to operate, and the famous extension from Fremont: the fostoria and fremont, which was a branch of the Famous Lake Shore Electric,

When this writer had left home for the services of the armed forces, many times in the converstations with other soldiers o flike interests, the hometown of Fostoria would com up. MOre often than not, I used to heqr "You are from the largest reilroad center for its population in the nation, if not the owrld.:" That always made me feel good, and althought the reilarods were (and still are) a big help to Fostoria;s prosperity, I never heard that from a member of the chamber of commerce. A lot of rail fans were envious that we has so much railroading going on in a relatively smaller city.

MCW&LM born but died soon

Earlied in this article, I mentioned another reilraod, the Mansfield, coldwater and Lake Michigan. In the frenzy of railroad building going on in the 1870's and 1880's, lines were bing projected in all dirextions, and cities and towns were vvying for one or more lines to pass through their comminities. The MCW&LM RR was one of these planned lines. financiers and promoters from Manssfield and nearby comminities had planned a line which would run from their city through Tiffin, fostoria, and head northwest towear Bowloig Green, coldwater, Michigan and terminating at Allegan, Michigan on Lake MIchigan. It was destined to be a First Class Railroad, but underhanded methods by other larger managemtnets spelled its demise before it could really get a good start.

In the 1930's and again in 1954, The Fostoria Daily Review (predecessor of The Reivew Times) publixshed special editions which included information about the reailraods in Fostorai: LE&W, NKP, B&O, T&OC , and the Coldwater.

Track crossed near cemetery

Since then, more information has surfaced onthe latter line, I first heard about this railroad from my dad: Floy Kinnaman. (When I was growing up in Fostorai), he would often pointoout to me wher the tracks crosse dNOrth Ridge Road just west of the cemetery. Then, as recent as five years ago, I asked Paul Krupp of The Review Times what information he had on it. He wrote back he would dig into the matter and dan McGinnis of kaubisch Library came up with a book published int the 1960's outlining the entire history of the coldwater Railroad. In the interim, I mentioned in correspoindence about this line to Howare Ameling, railroad historian of Fremont. He was very surprised as he had not heard of it befoe. He counsulted some old Ohio maps and a coldwater Railroad did indded paralle the B&O into Fostoraia, and beyond. The book is unknown as to publisher or title, but the coldwater account was wtirren as a chapter from this book. The autheor indicated that a constructio line was built from Mansfield, through Tiffin and fostorai and went as far as Weston, south of Bowling Green. It originally was destined to go on into coldwater, Michigan where a lafrge group of financiers had put up money and political clout to have the line run through their city. Grading was completed all the way to Allegan, Michigan on the lake.

Even though the 1960's writer indicated the construction reil line ran only to Weston, the far western segment out of Allegan was also built and operatedf ofr a short distance eastward. Other segments of the graded roadbed were sold to other railraods.

Althoug it has been more that 45 years since I saw the actual roadbed passing throught JJerry City, I often wonder if even though this line was torn out more than 115 years ago, if an occasional "spike" can still be found.

(TO be continued)

Other facts about railroads

The following are interesting facts that I have uncovered, plus recollections from many years ago.

Albert Thornton, S., contributes.

Albert Thornton, Jr., 730 w. Tiffin St., may not remember the following information that his father contributed and was printed in one of fostoria's newspapers many years ago. Thornton, Sr., was the agent for the Hocking valley Railroad, with office on sandushy St. at the R.R. Station. The building that housed the office and the waiting room for the passengers still stands on the railroad's property.

"the B&O ran their first vestibule passenger train to Chicago this morning" (Aug. 21, 1835)


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