The first railroad in the United States was built in the summer of 1826 from the Bunker Hill quarry near Quincy Mass. running 3 miles to the Neponset River wharf landing. Steam locomotive power was first used in 1831-32 on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad & in Charlestown. The first railroad in Ohio was made in 1836 and about 15-30 miles long situated from near Toledo at the mouth of the Maumee River, to the west into Michigan.
The first railroad to go through Crawford County was chartered and surveyed in 1836-1837 to link Cincinnati to Springfield by following the Ohio River to the Little Miami River then north to Xenia, Yellow Springs then Springfield, for about 90 miles and was known as the Mad River Railroad. It was completed in Aug 1845, laid with strap rails. This road was the first to intersect Crawford County by passing through the northwestern part of Wyandot County which was then part of Crawford County.
The next road, the Sandusky, Mansfield & Newark Railroad was first chartered as the Monroeville & Sandusky City Railroad in 1835, Mansfield & New Haven in 1836, Columbus & Lake Erie 1845 and Huron & Oxford in 1846. These were later connected, consolidated and extended to Newark then finally to Columbus. The line from Cleveland to Columbus was completed in 1851 after the purchase of the Springfield, Delaware and Mt Vernon Railroad which connected it with Cincinnati. This section cut through the eastern part of Crawford County. When it later purchased the Bellefontaine & Indianapolis Railroad which formed the Indianapolis Division, this line became known as the "The Bee Line".
The Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad began with a charter in 1848 as the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Co. The first section began at Mansfield then east to Wooster, Massillon and Canton to Columbiana County on the eastern Ohio border and was completed to Pittsburg by 1853 extending to Crestline on the west. In 1851 the charter for the Ohio & Indiana Railroad Co was granted for a road beginning at Crestline through Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky then west to Ft Wayne, Indiana which was completed by November 1, 1854. The last section to Chicago was completed in November 1856 by connecting to a portion of the Cincinnati, Peru & Chicago Railroad. In August these three corporations then consolidated under the title of Pittsburgh, Ft Wayne & Chicago Railroad.
Work on the Atlantic & Lake Erie Railway later known as the Ohio Central running from Toledo on the northwest to Pomeroy on the southeast began in 1869. The section running from Mt Gilead through Bucyrus began with a contract for a bridge over the river in Bucyrus in 1872. Financial problems delayed the road's completion until it was reorganized in 1875. By March 1876 two locomotives were purchased, and in September 15 cars were finished for delivering rails to New Lexington. In March of 1878 the road was sold and the title became the Ohio Central Railroad but trains did not run through Crawford County on this road until 1880. For detailed maps of the railroads through Ohio, please visit the maps at the Library of Congress and zoom in on the Ohio area maps for Crawford County.
If you would like to read about additional railroad histories, check out the following sites and if you have additional railroad history sites you would like to recommend, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.:
- Akron Canton Youngstown Historical Society
- Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society
- Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History
- Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Historical Society
- History of The Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St Louis Railway Company
- Cyndi's List - Railroads: History
- Fort Wayne - Historical Aspects (Railroads)
- National Railroad Museum
- Ohio Railroad History Sources
- Penn Central Railroad Historical Society
- Railroad Construction from 1840 to 1850 - Ringwalt
- Railroads of Northwest Ohio
- Steam Locomotive dot Com
- The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
- Union Pacific Railroad History and Photos
Updated on March 29, 2011