EDITOR’S NOTE: The following 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.
The new century had not been very old when plans were afoot in the local area and throughout Ohio to build electric street car systems to connect towns and facilitate transportation.
Findlay was the center of a high degree of interest in this connection. The city eventually was on the line of three such systems, radiating out into the territory for a number of miles. But others were projected and much time expended in promoting them but they never materialized.
Six companies in all were actually formed to construct lines between Findlay and distant points, but nothing ever came of these original plans. They had names and some right of way was bargained for, but this is as far as they went.
The Findlay, Columbus Grove and Fort Wayne Electric Co. was organized in the summer of 1901 to serve portions of Hancock, Putnam, Allen and Van Wert counties in Ohio and on into Indiana to Fort Wayne. Dr. Jacob A. Kimmell of Findlay was the president of the company and Dr. William H. Beggs of Columbus Grove was vice president. G.W. Risser of Ottawa was secretary, and Charles E. Niles of Findlay was treasurer. J.H. Whisler of Benton Ridge was a director with the four officers.
Benton Ridge had tried to have the new Findlay-Lima electric line include the village on its route when plans for this system were developed earlier, urging that cars run from Rawson to Benton Ridge and then on to Findlay, entering this city on West Sandusky Street. When this did not happen, Benton Ridge became interested in the proposed Findlay-Fort Wayne electric line and Mr. Whisler, a Benton Ridge merchant, was an active promoter of the suggested line, which would have utilized West Sandusky Street.
Irwin B. Arnold, a Findlay citizen, was employed to start to secure right of way for the new line, but obstacles developed that halted all activity before long.
Another proposed street car system would have connected Findlay and Marion. The Findlay and Marion Electric Co. was formed also in mid-1901, with local leaders prominent in the efforts to link the two communities. Officers were named as follows: William E. Scofield, of Marion, president; Asa W. Jones, of Youngstown, Ohio’s lieutenant-governor, vice-president; Jason Blackford of Findlay, secretary; and P.B. Morrison of Findlay, treasurer. David Joy, also of Findlay, was one of the organizers as was C.E. Swartzbaugh of Toledo, a son-in-law of Mr. Blackford. Interested also were Judge Allen Smalley and M.A. Smalley of Upper Sandusky.
City council granted the line the right to use East Main Cross Street in reaching Main Street. Main Cross would have been followed east to Osborn Avenue and a new bridge built to cross the Blanchard River where the recently built span is now located adjoining Riverside Park. McManness Avenue would have been followed, then north to Cherry; and the route would then have gone straight east into the country. From there it would have gone to Carey across farm lands. Jason Blackford, Findlay attorney and secretary of the line, made the route presentation to city council.
David Joy was named to start to get right of way and made some preliminary contacts in that connection. Mr. Joy and a brother had come to Findlay a couple decades previously and conducted the popular Joy House hostelry at South Main and West Sandusky streets. However, the hotel developed financial troubles around the turn of the century and closed. The building became the C.F. Jackson Co. department store a few years later on, known as the “glass block.”
Mr. Joy also became interested in some other street car promotions, as we shall learn next week.