EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. The following column is the third in a series concerning H.R. Page’s “Findlay Illustrated.”
By R.L. HEMINGER
The city’s rapid expansion and development in the oil and gas boom of the late 1880s are described interestingly in the H.R. Page volume “Findlay Illustrated,” published in 1889, which we have been discussing in recent columns.
The boom struck first north of the Blanchard River and property began to advance in price rapidly as factories began to locate there, attracted by the city’s offer of free natural gas.
“But a few months later … presto!” wrote author Page. “New additions were being laid out on all (l)ands and property was changing hands at a rapid rate and at very advanced figures. It was the coming of the boom of 1887, a period which will be ever remembered as the culmination of the speculative fever which involved in its sway, men, women and children. Everybody was infected; those who lived in Findlay and those who came to look on and see the sights were equally victims …. Fortunes were made in a day or a week. Among those who had the fever worst were a number of ladies, and they proved to be equal to the occasion, for when the boom was over and the fever had subsided, they found themselves to be in much better circumstances than ever before.
“DURING ITS CONTINUANCE, almost every day saw new additions platted and laid out for sale and the Council Committee on ‘plats and parks’ was kept busy examining the plats of the new additions offered and marking up reports upon the same until nearly all the territory involved in the township — four by six miles — was added to the taxable property of the corporation.
“It was during this great boom that the West Park addition was laid out, the Lima street car line was built and the Mahoning and Western Railroad was inaugurated and the farm lands of that locality (were) transformed into building lots and dotted with elegant homes.
“The immense works of the Lagrange Rolling Mill Company were located at this point, along the line of the (Western and Lake Erie Railroad) at the intersection of the (Mahoning line). The Chain and Cable Works, Moores Chair Factory, Vinton’s Brass and Steel Works, and other manufacturing establishments were located at this point, and dwellings sprang up as if by magic.
“It was during this time of excitement, also, that the Carnahan addition was laid out and the Ohio Window Glass Company located, the Blanchard Avenue Street Car Line was projected and has become a fixed fact. The following establishments also were located during that season, and are now flourishing and prosperous institutions, adding population and wealth to the city and the general prosperity of the country: The Wetherald Wire Nail Works, the Hirsh-Ely Glass Works, the Findlay Hydraulic Pressed Brick Works, the Findlay Iron and Steel Works, the American Aluminum Works, the Peerless Refining Company, and the immense Bell & Co.’s Pottery Works.
“Not yet in full operation, but to be by September, will be the Bellaire Goblet Works, the largest in the United States, recently destroyed by fire, but now rebuilding larger and better than ever, the Dalzell and Company’s magnificent establishment, the Model Glass Works, the Bottle Works, Lippencott’s immense Glass Chimney Factory, and the vast American Nail and Machine Company’s Works.
“TO THESE MAY BE added a number of Brick Yards, a large Excelsior Works, Lime Kilns, Planing Mills, Lumber Yards and other branches of business, each of which add to the number of sources of employment and contribute their proportion to the rapidly growing population of the city.
“Many new blocks have been added to the city, among them the Blackford Block, the Marvin Block, the Morrison Block, the Edwards Block, the Union Block, and others of less note.
“To meet the vast growth of the city has kept the school board busy, and last year (1888) there were six magnificent school buildings erected in different parts of the city and this year arrangements have been made to still further enlarge the school facilities by the construction of other buildings. In this way $100,000 has been put into new buildings.”
In more installments to come, publisher Page details other phases of Findlay’s rapid growth in the exciting days of the late 1880s.