Belt Line Railroad Footnotes

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.

 

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

 

This column is devoted to some “footnotes” in connection with the eight-part series of articles on the Findlay Belt Line Railroad which ended last week.

The articles have prompted inquiries with regard to some aspects of the line and the industries which were located along its route when the railroad served the community from the early 1890s through the opening years of the 20th century.

The south end of the Belt Line went through what had been the community’s first cemetery, it is recalled, located south of East Main Cross Street, on the east bank of Eagle Creek. This cemetery is believed to have been started by the garrison of Fort Findlay in 1812. It is known that some of the soldiers of the Hull army died here and the burial ground for the dead was established on the site along Eagle Creek, it is believed.

 

 

THE FIRST RECORDED burial of anyone, other than a Hull army soldier, was in 1822. All bodies were later removed by the time the Belt Line was built.

A building located just east of the Belt Line where it crossed East Main Cross Street was once the Houpt Brass Foundry. It was built during June, 1889, by W.H. Campfield, the building of the Hancock County courthouse. The firm was in business about 10 years. It was leased in 1899 to the Happer Perfume business which lasted until around 1906. Later the Ohio Paint and Varnish Co., the Hollerbach Piano Co., and Ohio Chemical Co. occupied the building. In recent years it was a warehouse for the Jackson Furniture Co.

The firm known as the Wetherald Rolling Mill on the Belt Line at the foot of Scott Avenue operated under separate names at various times. It was first the Findlay Iron and Steel Co. between 1888 and 1893. Then it became the Carrothers Rolling Mill and subsequently the Wetherald Mill. The building had been erected by W.H. Campfield and was 160-by-160 feet in dimensions. It employed between 40 and 80 men and produced 30 tons a day. It was a round chain mill and also turned out bar iron in flat strips, as well as buggy and wagon iron.

 

 

SYLVESTER WETHERALD WAS its head. Associated in the rolling mill business at times were Dr. Anson Hurd, John A. Scott, E.T. Dunn and Jasper G. Hull, all well-known Findlay business and professional men.

On the site of the old mill at the foot of Scott Avenue can still (1968) be observed some metal scraps from the plant which was once there. They have been scraped into a small pile. Many nails are among the scraps. The Belt Line touched the mill and its supplies came in over the road and its products left via the line.

The Salem Wire Nail Mill, located at the foot of Santee Avenue, had previously been the Wetherald and Dewey Mill in 1888 and 1889. In the latter year it became the Salem Wire Nail Mill, until it became a unit of the American Steel and Wire Co., which operated it until October, 1899, when the machinery was removed.

The mill was one of the big employers in Findlay at one time, with some 300 men on the payroll, which amounted to $14,000 per month. Three thousand kegs of nails were turned out in 24 hours, amounting to 60 carloads weekly. Iron was received in coils of one-half inch diameter. Workers were paid between $2.50 to $2.75 per day of 10 hours’ duration. Night men got $3.44 for 12 hours.

The value of the firm’s product amounted to $962,200 in a year’s time. The Findlay mill was not complete, needing a rod mill which the owners said would have meant a new investment of $250,000. This was too much capital for the firm and it closed.

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