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 of the series on Findlay’s Belt Line Railroad came from the late Don Smith of Findlay.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The Findlay Belt Line Railroad was finally in service in late 1892, following completion of a temporary bridge over the Blanchard River just east of the bridge of the north-south railroad that was later Conrail.
The management decided to take a delegation of Findlay citizens on a trip over the new line which touched Findlay manufacturing plants that had come here, attracted by the discovery of natural gas. The line ran from the South Blanchard Street intersection of the old Big Four Railroad to the corporation line on the north, then west across Main and then south to Lester Avenue.
Here is the Morning Republican’s account of the trip:
“General Manager W.S. Mathias, of the Belt Line Railroad, this forenoon (Oct. 7, 1892) gave a large delegation of citizens a most enjoyable excursion over his line. The trip was planned to celebrate the completion of the temporary bridge across the Blanchard River and the connection of the Belt Line with the Big Four Railroad, making four railroads now connected by this important link. These four railroads are the Big Four, the Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati, the Lake Erie and Western, and the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton, all of which are now placed on terms of equality with reference to the principal factories of the city.
(THREE OF THE FOUR ROADS later had other names. The Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati became the Toledo and Ohio Central, later the Penn Central. The Lake Erie and Western was the Nickel Plate, later Norfolk and Western. The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton later became the Baltimore and Ohio. The Big Four continued its name until it suspended service in the early 1930s. Its full name was Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis — the Big Four name coming from these four cities.)
“At 9:39 o’clock, the Belt Line engine, gaily decorated with flags, drew up to the Big Four depot (located at the end of East Crawford Street), with two passenger coaches, which were quickly filled with representative business and professional men, city and county officials and members of the press. A number of ladies were in the party.
“After backing out of the yards of the Big Four, the track of the Belt Line was reached at South Blanchard Street and on this the train proceeded at a good speed. The new bridge was crossed and the excursion party passed the Briggs Rolling Mills and Tool Works. Then, the three glass plants of the Findlay Window Glass factory, the Columbia and Buckeye glass works were reached (all located near the junction of the what was later Norfolk Southern and Conrail railroads). At each plant, the workmen came to the windows and doors and waved their hats and cheered as the train passed.
“Proceeding to the Wetherald Rolling Mills (located at the foot of the present Scott Avenue) a stop was made long enough to enable the party to see the work of rolling iron, which interesting process was new to a large number.
“THE TRAIN THEN RAN ON to the Salem Wire Nail Company’s immense plant (at the foot of Santee Avenue), where another stop was made and the visitors conducted through the several departments of this busy institution.
“Again at the Bell Brothers’ Pottery (at the foot of present Bell Avenue), the train stopped and a half hour was spent in viewing the interesting processes, through which the ware goes in its evolution from loose clay through the various transformations which convert it into the handsomely decorated ware which adorns our tables.
“From the Bell Pottery, the run was made across North Main Street to the west part of the city, and then south past the glass factories and on to the pot works to the Hydraulic Press Brick Company’s great plant.”
(The Belt Line Railroad ended at Lester Avenue, just north of the plant of the Findlay Clay Pot. The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, later the Baltimore and Ohio, ran a track from its line at High Street to meet the terminus of the belt line.)
Next Week: More About the Excursion over the New Belt Line.