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. Information for the series on the Findlay Belt Line Railroad came from the late Don Smith.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The summer of 1892 was a busy one for the builders of the Findlay Belt Line Railroad, to connect the many plants that came to the community because of the big supply of natural gas that had been found here.
There was much controversy among the city’s railroad lines which were sponsoring the building of the belt line. Here is a news story from the old Morning Republican dated July 16, 1892, that tells its own story of the disputes:
“THERE WAS A WAR ALL day yesterday among the railroads out in the Heck Addition in north Findlay.
“Yesterday morning at daylight a gang of men employed by the Belt Line began tearing up the side tracks of the Toledo and Ohio Central Road at the Bell Pottery, United Glass factory and Salem Wire Nail Works, for the purpose of laying their tracks across them and then replacing the old track.
“They got the track down at the nail mill (from Santee Avenue north) and the glass house. While busily working on the track at the pottery (foot of Bell Avenue) with the Toledo and Ohio Central tracks not yet replaced, the Central folks learned of the fact and hastened to the scene with as large a force of men as they could hastily gather. Each side seemed to be waiting for the other side to start something. The deputy sheriff appeared at this time with a restraining order of the court which had been hastily secured by the Belt Line.
“Being now stopped from attacking the track, the Toledo and Ohio Central force resorted to another expedient. Securing an engine and some flat cars loaded with gravel, they backed several hundred yards up their tracks, then dashed at full speed against the opposing track laid across their own. This was repeated with much force, the shock badly bending the Belt Line track and rendering it unfit for use.
“As the engine and loaded cars dashed into the Belt Line the second time, the men from the latter line jumped upon the cars and shoveled most of the gravel off before the Toledo and Ohio Central men could rally. Again they backed up and hit the opposing track which was now rendered completely unfit for use. The last shock ditched one flat car and stopped this mode of attack, the flat car being nearly across the demolished Belt Line track.
“THE TOLEDO AND OHIO Central men were then called to the nail mill crossing. Profiting by their absence, the Belt Line men had sent to town for jacks to upset the other Toledo and Ohio Central cars, in order to provide time to make repairs on their track. The Toledo and Ohio Central then enlisted some 100 men and were able to halt all track work.
“To guard their track, the Belt Line people found ways to run loaded cars of gravel to a point directly in line with the two ends of the Toledo and Ohio Central tracks. The cars were secured by means of log chains and padlocks placed under the rails and around the axles of the cars. This was done at all three crossings that had been torn up. In the afternoon, the Toledo and Ohio Central went to court and secured an injunction stopping the Belt Line from tearing up any more track.
“At this time, the Belt Line had the advantage of the situation as they had their track completed before the order was served. No blood was shed.”
Eventually all was ironed out and peace prevailed. An item dated July 27 said, “The Toledo and Ohio Central and the Belt Line have their trouble settled. By mutual agreement, each road has conceded to the other the privilege of connections and the use of its tracks in approaching the Bell Pottery, United Glass factory and Salem Nail mill.”
But in August there was new trouble. The Belt Line brought in a new engine to use. To get it onto the route from the Big Four Railroad over which it traveled here, the tracks of the Toledo and Ohio Central had to be utilized. Permission was slow in coming and the Belt Line, under cover of night, proceeded to move the engine. It went through locked switches and the next morning was on the other side of Findlay busily engaged in action.
Next Week: Businessmen Take a Ride on the Belt Line