Belt Line rails once served industry here

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.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

Findlay at one time had a railroad, about which little is remembered now. It was the Belt Line Railroad, which was constructed to connect the city’s principal industries, much after the fashion of terminal railroads which exist in most large cities today, including Toledo.

The railroad was built in the 1890s. It only existed for a couple decades, the decline of the gas boom, which had led to its origin, being responsible for its abandonment early in the 1900s.

Evidences of the line still exist today (1962) in Findlay. Some of its tracks are still to be seen, as a matter of fact. The abutments in the Blanchard River for its bridge over the waterway are still standing.

When the gas boom got under way in Findlay in the late 1880s, a substantial number of new plants were established here, including numerous industries making glassware. For the most part they were located north of the Blanchard River. Shipping was one of their very real problems, the records reveal. It was to solve some of these difficulties that the Belt Line Railroad was conceived and constructed.

The Courier of April 25, 1890 told of the purposes of the line in the following article:

“This is an important project and its building means a great deal for Findlay. It will lessen the switch charges for the factories, facilitate the handling of freight in and out and place all the factories of the city on equal footing, giving them connections with all the railroads entering the city. It will also prove of great advantage to many localities now off of the line of the railroad, as it will afford them railroad connections and place them in as good shape as though a main line was running right by.”

As the foregoing article indicated, a number of the city’s new industries either were not on railroad lines or were experiencing difficulties in getting their shipments routed in and out over the lines they wished to use.

The Belt Line enabled shippers to have their products taken by this route directly to the line they wished to use, without having to use other lines to get their shipments to the railroads they preferred, a procedure involving costly delays as a rule. It also facilitated receipt of incoming shipments.

The line was owned by some of the railroads operating in Findlay. The Big Four was the heaviest stockholder. It eventually bought out the other owners and took complete control of the line and its operation. That occurred only a few years after the establishment of the line.

The Belt Line’s route ran directly north from the Big Four, whose depot at that time was located at the foot of East Crawford Street. The Big Four tracks ran east out of Findlay, Carey being the eastern terminal of the line. The Belt Line tracks connected with the Big Four just east of the New York Central railroad tracks.

The tracks of the Belt Line crossed East Main Cross Street just east of Eagle Creek. Some of the rails are still in the ground in this area, and are readily seen.

Proceeding north the Belt Line crossed the Blanchard River on a bridge which had been constructed for its use. The large concrete pier in the middle of the river constructed to support the bridge is still standing. All other evidence of the bridge is gone now.

The line then proceeded north directly behind the present waterworks plant and on north not far from the tracks of the New York Central railroad. A crossing of North Main Street was made at the extreme northern limits of the city and the line, after proceeding west a short distance, turned south for a connection with what was then the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, now the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where it ended.

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