January 26, 1977
selling papers at the train stations in Fostoria.
WHEN THE TRAINS WHISTLE
A train whistle, whether it be in the day, or a far away sound in the dead
of night, always provokes memories for me. I guess because trains have been
so close to me all my life.
Up to the time I was six, I lived just a stones-throw away from the B&O
and Nickel Plate tracks in the south end of town. Then for another 18 years
I lived close to the old New York Central and C & O (then known as Hocking
Valley Line, at the east edge of town.) And of course the L.E. & W (Lake Erie
& Western) was nearby too. It was often called the "leave early and walk".
Some of my reading audience may remember like I do, the "excursion" trains
that ran on the L.E. & W. line to Cedar Point. The run started at Ft. Wayne
and ended at Sandusky, where the rest of the trip to the Point was made by
passenger boat. The train carried 8 or 10 cars and was usually filled.
Cedar Point was as popular then as it is today. The main attractiion was the
clean, sand beach, bu the roller coaster and fun house were popular too.
They didn't have the sophicated amusements that are there today.
As a lad I met most of the daytime passenger trains that came into Fostoria,
selling newspapers of that day - Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland News
Leader; Toledo News Bee; and Cincinnati Enquirer. The traveling men who
rode the trains were always anxious to get the latest news and tipped
Cecil Hall, a friend of mine, peddled freshly popped corn to the same trains,
and usually made a "killing". Anyway to make a - I was about to say buck -
but, no it should be "a little extra change".
Forty car freight trains were long ones then. With the advent of the big
"iron horse", and later the diesels, the trains grew to 100 cars or more.
Fostoria was known as a railroad center when the railroad business was at its
height. There were five major lines runnin both freight and passenger cars
through Fostoria and an average of 100 trains passed through here daily.
When I left The Review Times and started working for Fostoria Pressed Steel
(now Fostoria Industries), the trains were my favorite mode of transportation.
They always got you there, in comfort and had good sleeping accommodations
and good food.
Twenty-five years aso, you could ride the trains north, south, east, west out
of Fostoria, for Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Detroit, with connections
for about any place in the U.S. It was possible to take an early morning
train to Chicago getting there by mid-morning, transact your business and
return on a late afternoon train the same day.
Or, you could leave here on a late afternoon train and arrive in New York
early the next morning, leaving enough time to transact a full day of
business and return on a night train.
The passenger train 25 years ago were excellent, as was the service. The
train crews should be remembered and honored for their service today, as well
The C & O Sportsman was deluxe. What a beautiful ride it provided from
Fostoria to Chicago. Both were excellent, but the Capitol was the best and
fastest. Dee Harrison, whom many readers will remember rode the B & O
consistently to Chicago and return. We often rode in the clud-car together
and sometimes had breakfast or dinner.
The Nickle Plate had a very good passenger train to Hoboken, N.J. where you
could get the ferry boat, to complete the trip to New York City. The Nickle
Plate ended its run in Buffalo, but switched the New York cars to the
I'm not sure Fostoria and Fostorians have always appreciated the revenue
and overall contribution the railroads have made to the city. We never
appreciate the good things until they are gone. It's too late now.