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.
In last week’s article we told of plans for three proposed streetcar lines in and out of Findlay, which developed early in the new century but which never materialized. There were three more in the same category. We are writing about them today.
These six proposals evolved at the same time that three such systems did actually become realities, linking Findlay with neighboring cities and towns and operating into the early 1930s.
Last week’s article told of plans for a line to Fort Wayne through Columbus Grove, another line connecting Findlay and Marion and a third running to Columbus via Mount Blanchard, Forest and Delaware.
A fourth proposed electric system would have linked Findlay and Columbus via Kenton and Marysville. The Findlay and Southern Electric Co. was organized in 1901 and was actually given permission by the Findlay council to travel through Findlay on South West Street. Plans were developed to make the county fairgrounds on the south edge of Findlay (now the Hosafros addition) into a resort area, touched by the streetcar line. The north terminus would have been the Blanchard River with plans held in abeyance for a crossing of the river on a new bridge and then on to Defiance Avenue and continuing on to McComb and Defiance. When council agreed to permit the line’s cars to operate on West Street, the city lawmakers were told the company already had 75 percent of the right of way from here to Columbus.
Still another streetcar line between Findlay and Kenton was projected. A company known as the Findlay, Kenton, Bellefontaine and Urbana Railway Co. was formed in 1902 by a Findlay group consisting of W.J. Burket, J.N. Schaefer, David Joy, C.H. Thorndike, J.M. Steen, C.A. Bond and W.J. Creswell. At Urbana the new line was to connect with an Urbana-Springfield streetcar system, which hooked up at Springfield with a line on to Dayton and into Cincinnati. Incorporation papers were taken out at Columbus for the new company, which also had ideas of laying tracks from Urbana into Columbus.
Kenton got some streetcar tracks out of the plans of the two companies for streetcar service involving the Hardin County seat. Rails were laid on Kenton’s Detroit Avenue, the city’s main north and south thoroughfare, but that’s as far as plans went. Kenton was never on any streetcar line. Whether the Detroit Avenue tracks belonged to the Southern Company or the other system, we do not know now.
Aside from the plans of the Southern Electric for an extension from Findlay on to Defiance, another firm was in the field with plans of its own to connect the two cities, running via McComb and Leipsic. McComb residents and farmers in that area aided in initial right of way acquisition, but the promoters eventually gave up their efforts.
While the six new trolley lines were being projected involving Findlay, plans were going ahead rapidly for the trio of streetcar systems that did come into being and on which Findlay was located, the city becoming a terminal for all three. They were: the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern, running to Toledo via North Baltimore, Cygnet, Bowling Green and Maumee; the Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay, operating between Findlay and Toledo via Fostoria, Risingsun and Pemberville; and the Western Ohio, running between Findlay and the Piqua area via Lima and Wapakoneta.
The recently published work of Harry Christiansen, of Cleveland, on the trolley systems of western Ohio, says that Bowling Green once had two streetcar lines running between the Wood County seat and Toledo. In addition to the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern, there was Toledo-Bowling Green service via Pemberville also. There was a trolley line called “Lake Erie, Bowling Green and Napoleon,” which ran until 1916. When it folded, the Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay interurban line bought the Bowling Green-Pemberville tracks and operated a Toledo-Bowling Green car until 1925 when the tracks deteriorated and service stopped.
Author Christiansen also says the Jerry City service which served that city from the main Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern tracks in Wood County was originally intended to run on eastward to Fremont, but never got beyond Jerry City.
Two Findlay engineers, John W.S. Riegle and Harry A. Glathart, were associated with developing streetcar systems, serving in an expert capacity in construction. Both were former Hancock County surveyors and both also served here as city engineers. Mr. Riegle helped build the Fostoria-Fremont and Fostoria-Tiffin streetcar systems and Mr. Glathart went to northeastern Ohio in a similar capacity for new streetcar lines there.