Local streetcar line first targeted Fremont

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 volume “Ohio Trolley Trails,” just published by Harry Christiansen of Cleveland, contains much valuable information with regard to the early interurban line history involving the route between Toledo and Findlay through North Baltimore and Bowling Green.

The Toledo-Findlay streetcar system was long and familiarly known as the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern Traction Co., with its headquarters in Findlay. But this was not always the name. It started out as the Toledo, Bowling Green and Fremont.

Findlay’s streetcar system and the power plant in connection therewith were under the original ownership of the Hancock Electric Light and Power Co. until early in the new century, when the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern Traction Co. name came into being.

The Toledo, Bowling Green and Fremont line opened Sept. 16, 1896, running between Toledo and a place, Hopkinsville, one mile north of Bowling Green. The line could not enter Bowling Green because of franchise problems. Finally, on Aug. 24, 1898, a franchise was awarded on condition that the interurban locate its shops and barns in Bowling Green and extend its tracks five miles on south in 1899. A four-track capacity brick barn was built at the south end of Bowling Green in 1900 at a cost of $6,000.

The line was to become a Toledo-Bowling Green-Fremont interurban road. The company built south of Bowling Green to Trombley, making a line of 32 miles overall. Here, plans were developed to turn due east toward Fremont and construction was completed as far east as Jerry City, but never went any further. A special service was run between Jerry City and Trombley for a long time, after the interurban was completed on to Findlay later on.

Around 1900, it was decided to change the original plans and move on south to Findlay instead of going to Fremont. A dozen miles of track was completed on to Mortimer (North Findlay) where a connection was established with the Findlay streetcar system, which had a car running to Mortimer to serve the old Nickel Plate Railroad passengers.

This completed the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern Traction Co.’s route between Findlay and Toledo. In 1904, a corporate name change made the name “Toledo, Urban and Interurban.” Four years later, the line went into receivership and in reorganization emerged again as the Toledo, Bowling Green Southern Traction Co., which was retained for the rest of its life.

While the name was “Toledo Urban and Interurban,” Bowling Green objected strenuously to the elimination of its name from the road’s title, hating to see its name taken from the streetcars.

George Kerper, of Cincinnati, president of the line, announced plans in the middle of the 1900-10 decade to extend the trolley system on to Kenton and LaRue from Findlay, to hook up with streetcar tracks going into Columbus. But nothing ever came of the proposal.

“The TBG&S was a fast line, but its early construction did not have this in mind,” says author Christiansen. “There were many sharp turns and at places the line swung off its path to tiny towns. A good example of this was the twisting, right-angle turn route in the Cygnet area.

“Because of heavy freight business, the line was profitable until 1926. As red ink developed, the end came Sept. 30, 1930.”

Mr. Christiansen mentions an angle of northwestern Ohio streetcar history that many have probably forgotten. There was a streetcar system known as the Lake Erie, Bowling Green and Northern, which operated between Bowling Green and Pemberville on an east and west route, as part of its system. When the line “folded” in 1916, the Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay, operating an interurban service between Findlay and Toledo via Fostoria and Pemberville, bought the Bowling Green-Pemberville stretch of 11 miles and started a competitive service with the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern between Toledo and Bowling Green. The TF&F carried its passengers on its Toledo-Pemberville line and then transferred them to the Bowling Green-Pemberville branch. It subsequently abandoned the Bowling Green service May 15, 1925, when rails deteriorated.

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