EDITOR’S NOTE–This is the second in a series on Findlay Belt Line Railroad adapted from articles on local history written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. Information for this article was provided by the late Don Smith.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Findlay, with the anticipated early arrival of the new Belt Line Railroad in the early 1890s, was expecting the coming of three new railroads to the local community.
Findlay’s industrial development was moving so rapidly and the prospects were looking so favorable that there was tremendous interest in making contacts from all angles to tap some of the new-found prosperity.
The belt line was still to materialize as an operating rail system when world came that the three new railroads were considering running lines into Findlay.
One was the Hocking Valley, running between Toledo and Columbus through Fostoria and Carey, east of Toledo. The president of the road was in Findlay in May, 1891, to discuss the matter and he said negotiations then were under way with regard to building a line into Findlay from either Fostoria or Carey.
Another was the Nickel Plate (NKP), running between Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago, through Mortimer. The NKP was giving thought to running a direct line into Findlay from Mortimer.
The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton, running between Findlay and Deshler (later the Baltimore and Ohio) was considering extending its Tontogany-North Baltimore branch into Findlay.
Findlay at this time already had five railroads in the city. The belt line was being prompted to provide improved railroad service for the city’s new industries, hooking them all up on a single line which would transfer freight from the plants to the railroad which the shippers wanted to use in sending their products out. Incoming freight also would be handled by the belt line to facilitate service between the plants and the railroads.
Right-of-way problems plagued the promoters of the belt line from the start. There was court action at times and the work stopped once in a while through injunctions.
Here are some of the items that appeared in the Morning Republican newspaper during the preliminary days:
July 15, 1891
Work on the Belt Line Railroad is progressing steadily. A long piece of the roadbed had been completed east of the Toledo and Ohio Central, while the bed has been partially graded between the railroad and North Main Street.
Aug. 5, 1891
The Belt Line company has a number of men through the county contracting for cross ties.
Nov. 4, 1891
Work on the Belt Line Railroad has been progressing steadily all summer and considering the obstacles which have been overcome in securing certain right-of-way, the company has done remarkably well to get construction work as far advanced as they have.
Nov. 23, 1891
It is said that the work of laying the iron on the Findlay Belt Line Railroad will commence next month.
Dec. 3, 1891
Eleven car loads of ties have already arrived for the Belt Line Railroad.
Jan. 14, 1892
Track laying on the Belt Line is progressing nicely nearly a mile having already been completed. This work was begun near Wetherald rolling mill and has been completed to near the Salem wire nail mill. (The Wetherald rolling mill was along the old L.E.&W. Railroad, later Norfolk and Western, in north Findlay. The Salem mill was along the main north-south line at the foot of Santee Avenue.)
Jan. 28, 1892
The Belt Line Railroad has commenced to put in the iron “frogs” for switches.
The “frogs” were purchased in Cincinnati and were shipped here by fast freight as a result of a ludicrous mistake of the cargo inspector there.
The car was loaded and sealed then marked “frogs.” The cargo inspector came along and noted the marking and labeled the car “perishable goods.”
As a consequence the car arrived here a couple days ahead of the expected time.
Next Week: Cemetery Problem Along the Belt Line Route.