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 current series on Findlay’s Belt Line Railroad came from the late Don Smith.
By R.L. HEMINGER
We are continuing here the story of a trip which Findlay business and professional men made over the line of the Findlay Belt Line Railroad in October, 1892, upon completion of the system which connected many of Findlay’s factories which had been attracted here by the gas boom.
The Morning Republican of Oct. 7, 1892, told the story of the excursion which started at the Big Four depot at the foot of East Crawford Street. Last week’s story got as far as the plant of the Hydraulic Press Brick plant which was near the end of the system on Findlay’s west side.
“HERE THE PARTY witnessed the operation of converting dry dust into handsome pressed brick of every shade and color and every shape and design demanded by the builders,” said the newspaper account.
After the Hydraulic plant visit, the party boarded the train and after a half-hour run was landed at the Big Four Depot.
“All expressed themselves as greatly pleased with the trip over the new line, visiting the many new plants on both the east and west side of Main Street along the Belt Line,” said the paper.
The newspaper went on to comment generally with regard to the belt line and its service in the community as follows:
“The Belt Line will prove of incalculable benefit to the city of Findlay. It places its factories in an independent position as regard the railroads upon which they are immediately situated, giving each all the shipping facilities of the several railroads. This endures not only the adjusting of rates, but gives better and prompter service in getting cars in and out. At each of the factories, the Belt Line runs its own sidings in and arranges its tracks to accommodate the wants of the shippers.
“Already the transfer business of the Belt Line is an important matter and it is rapidly growing. Factories can be built on the line of the Belt and enjoy all the advantages that heretofore could be had only by seeking points where several roads united.
“The track of the road is in fine shape, being well graded and ballasted and with heavy iron, which betokens the fact that it is here for business and intends to be a permanent thing with full faith in Findlay’s glorious future.
“In the immediate future the line will be extended to a connection with the Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western in south Findlay.”
The fact is that the belt line never got further south than its connection with the Big Four at South Blanchard Street. The Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western was over a mile further south, running east and west along what is now Sixth Street. Known as the “Tangent Line” because of its straight course, the road did extend east to meet the Big Four in Marion Township. Plans of the promoters called for running the road on to eastern Ohio and some Marion Township land was under lease for this purpose once. The “Tangent Line” last met the Old Lake Erie and Western Railroad in West Park, so there was facilities for connection with Belt Line connecting roads.
THE MORNING REPUBLICAN on Feb. 2, 1893, said:
“Probably the largest and unquestionably the heaviest train load that Findlay manufacturers ever sent out of the city was pulled out over the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad yesterday afternoon.
“The train consisted of 24 heavily loaded freight cars of nails from the Salem Wire Nail Works at the foot of Santee Avenue and was consigned to western points to fill orders. It was a mammoth shipment of manufactured goods.
To reach the C.H.&D. railroad (later the Baltimore and Ohio), the Salem works had to utilize the belt line to get the big shipment to the C.H.&D. tracks.
The belt line had its troubles. There were frequent mishaps, as the following item of Feb. 12, 1895, showed:
“Two freight cars on the Belt Line railroad were thrown from the track at Howard Run. The cars contained wire rods from the Salem Wire Nail Works and were overturned. A Big Four wreck train was sent for and arrived from Sandusky in time to restore the overturned cars to the track.”
Next: More About the Belt Line.