Abraham and Elizabeth Tilbury, both of Wyandot Co., sold for a consideration of $400, the property on which the Freight House stands. That was on September 25, 1832. They sold the property to Lucio Lot Dixon of Crawford Co. It was described as "Situate in the County of Hardin in the State of Ohio and in Jackson Township and Bounded and described as follows, the North half of the North East quarter, of the North West quarter, of Section number Eight, Township number Three, Range number Twelve South. Also the North half, of the North West quarter, of the North West quarter, of the North West quarter, of Section number Eight, Township number Three, Range number Twelve South, and Contains four acres more or less and all Lying in the District of land subject ot sale at Bucyrus, Crawford Co., Ohio." 1
On December 26, 1889, Dixon family members; Charlotte C. Dixon, Willis M. Dixon, and Reginia M. Dixon, all of Forest, sold the property to the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne, & Chicago Railroad for a consideration of $385. At that time it was described as "Real Estate Situarte in the North West Quarter, of the North West Quarter of Section Eight, Township Three, Range Twelve in the Forest Corporation, Hardin Co., Ohio, to-wit, beginning at the intersection of the South line of the Right of Way of the Pittsburgy, Ft. Wayne, & Chicago Railway, with the West line of Gormley Street in Plan of Forest, which point is thirty three feet from and at right angles to the center line of present main track of said Railway; Thence South, along the West line of Gormly Street one hundred and twenty feet to the North East corner of Lot Eight, Block Nine, in the village of Forest; Thence West, at right angles to Gormley Street, and along the North line of said Lot Eight one hundred and fifty feet; Thence South along the West line of sail Lot Eight fifty feet to the South West corner of said Lot Eight; Thence West at right angles to the Gormly Street, one hundred and seventy feet, to the North West Corner of #ot Six in said Block Nine; Thence South fifty feet to the North line of Lima Street; Thence West Along the North line of Lima Street one hundred and forty seven feet more or less, to the Easterly line of the Right of Way of the Cincinnati, Sandusky, & Cleveland Railroad (formerly so called); Thence North Eastwardly along said Easterly line of Right of Way, which is fifty feet distant from the cente rline of said Railroad, one hundred and Eighty feet more or less to the South line of the Right of Way of Said Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago Railway; Thence Eastwardly along said South line of Right of Way, and thirty three feet distant from said center line, three hundred and Ninety Eight feet, more or less to the place of beginning, Being Log B, Block Nine on the original Town Plot of Forest." 2
It was built around 1890 as a joint venture of the Pennsylvania and the Big Four railroads. It became a hub of activity over the next 60 years. Livestock, grain, and products from Dickelman Manfacturing Co. were some of the items shipped to other parts of the country.
Mayor Bowman informed the editors of the "Forest Review" in December 1892 theat he had written to State Commissioner of Railroads Kirkby and the Supperintendent of the Big Four railroad about Forest's need of a depot and laid the case before them in no uncertain terms. There was a great demand for a depot at Forest and it was a demand that should not further be ignored. The people of the community had waited logn and patiently forr something to be done, but it seemed that the railroads had no regard for the needs or wishes of the community. It was not an unreasonable thing for them to ask for and it would not be attended with any considerable expense. If the railroads couldn't do any better they could set off a box car and fix it up as a waiting room. It was a frequent inconvenience for ladies to stop in from other roads and transfer without having a waiting room.3
Still by 1894 people were asking "What's the latest about a new depot? A week or two ago there were several persons who thought we needed a new depot very much. Have they changed their opinions?" 4
On 9 May 1903 a new crossing took the place of an old one near the freight house.5
Storm of Last Friday Afternoon Almost a Hurricane and Blows Down Trees, Silos and Shkes Buildings
The storm last Friday afternoon assumed almost the proportions of a hurricane in Forest. After it was over one could look any direction in Forest and see street and sidewalks obstructed with fallen trees and branches of trees.
The roof on the freight depot clattered around on it foundation until the occupants of the building began to feel that they 3would just as soon be in a cellar. The northwest corner raised from it support two or three times. One time it did not settle back to its proper place and it is still in that condition although it is not noticable to the casual observer. Agent Bogan and Don Roach were watching it and they estimated that it raised at least four inches. They thought it had been struck by lightning but such was not the case.
A large elm tree in Morris Myers' door yard, that is thought to be a hundred years old, came down with a resounding crash, breaking a few fo the slate on the residence. Another tree in front of W.A. Wolf's residence was blown across the street.
From all communities come reports of orchards being badly damaged, outbuildings and silos unroofed, blown down or damaged. Telephone poles were broken down in a few places and the wires were broken by falling trees and branches, but these were soon repaired.
The worst damage to silos is reported by Frank Lafferty and D.A. Naus. Morris Meyers reports the worst damage to buildings on his farm, where the roof was blown off the barn, veltilators blown off and doors torn from their fastenings.
The gutters ran full to overflowing for several minutes after the storm and spent it fury. The oldest residents say it was the worst storm here in many years.6
The Freight House was lucky to survive this occurrence. The photographs here were taken during the fire. In the right photograph the Freight House can be seen in proximity to the Pennsylvania trackage. In the left photograph the Freight House is not seen but would be located at approximately the lower right-hand corner behind the freight cars. The prevalent winds had to have played their part in the saving of the Freight House that terrible day as 21 freight cars were destroyed during the fire. The Depot having been destroyed, a ticket office was temporarily opened in the Freight House.
An early Freight Master for Forest was Edgar J. Bogan. His assistant at the time was Clayton Ewing who became Freight Master upon the retirement of Bogan. Ewing was the last Freight Master as the railroad closed the Freight House upon his retirement. At the same time Don Roach and Myron Kauble were at the Freight House as workers. In total there were eight persons employed at the Freight House. John Webber, son of Rex D. Webber, ran deliveries. His father was the proprietor of a truck line in Forest. Others who worked for the railroads were: Billie Newland, Lon Hefferman, Jim Minix, Bo Richardson, Ray Combs, Chester Thompson, Francis Snyder, and Pearl Krimblebine.7
Clayton Ewing was Station Master at Forest from the 1930s to the 1950s. There was a Clayton Ewing born near Milton township, Mahoning county, Ohio around 1869. This may have been Clayton's father. The father of that Clayton was named, Harrison, the mother, Sarah. Harrison was an attorney in Newbert, Cuyahoga county, Ohio in the 1880s.
The perspective of a north bound train, the C.C.C.&St.L. R.R. (below right) depicts the Union Depot showing it on the double track. It is traveling west bound. The Switching Tower and the Union Depot can be seen. The C.C.C. & St.L. engine looks to be a 4-8-0 pulling freight and passenger coaches.
In 1954 during the Centennial of Forest many of the town's people acted out skits about the history of Forest, "Episode Three - The Railroads" was placed in the hands of Ralph Fernbaugh, David Post, Stanley Horn, Larry Thiel, Eddie Musgrave, Richard Price, Dan McKee, Warren Zimmerman, Richard Flowers, James Jefferman, Leon Oates, Raymond Hougendoubler, Shirley Staley, Patricia Shields, John Kauble, Cecelia Fink, Phyllis Hemmerly, Rose Parcher, Connie Lodge, Wenda Bash, Marilyn Hempy, and Alice Humphrey. Additional information about the 1954 Centennial Padgeant is in .pdf format.
A survey was made of the property on March 20, 1972 by Clay Finn, Registered Surveyor No. 5042.
On July 17, 1973, Leon E. & Sandra K. Thacker, purchase the Freight House (all three hundred fifty-four thousandths of an acre) from the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne, & Chicago Railroad for $8,000. George P. Baker, Richard C. Bond, Jervis Langdon, Jr., and Willard Wirtz were Trustees of the Property for the Penn. Central Transportation Co., a leesee of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago Railway Co. Leon & Sandy converted it into the Freight House Restaruant. Before Leon purchased the Freight House from the railroads he had to travel to St. Louis, Ft. Wayne, and Detroit, where he put down a deposit of $800. Several of the piers were damaged underneath the building and he removed planks and poured cement to replace them. The planks were two and a half to three inches thick. He put about $100,000 into the building (not including labor) to convert it into a restaurant. Visible brickwork was sandblasted, ground out, and tuck pointed. There was an original wall made of wood which contained the names of railroad workers and other during the years, but the wall was removed and the current location of it is unknown. The copper nails used in the original slate roofing were saved and reused.8
In August of 1980, Leon & Sandra sold the property to David & Betty Frater. The Fraters expanded the lounge area of the restaurant, then the same month, sold the property to Douglas Wachtmann and Steve B. Garner, both believed to be from Kenton. Wachtmann & Garner continued to operate it as a restaurant. They sold the building to Tom Brim of Kenton who closed the restaurant and used the building for storage. The Community First Bank of Forest foreclosed on the property in July, 1981. The following month Community First Bank sold it to Thomas E. & Carolyn M. Brim.9
According to Mrs. Marshall at the time, the Freight House had been vacant since about 1987, but until that time had been used by the railroads for storage. At some point it was also known as Powell's Italian Eatery, Depot of Delights. Powell had been operating Family Pizza in the village for approximately two years prior to opening the eatery. In the photograph is Debra Deringer, manager of the craft shop with Sandy Johnson, building manager.
In September, 1990, the Brim's sold the property to D. Ray & Nancy M. Marshall. The Marshall's operated it as a restaurant, remodeling the bar and installing a craft/flower shop. Under a lease from Ray Marshall, Ed & Regina Powell opened Powell's Italian Eatery, with Craig Powell, Proprietor opened in 1992 and remained open until early 1994 at which time Ray Marshall closed it for four months to remodel and re-open as the Old Freight House restaurant. Coinciding with the eatery grand opening was the Depot of Delights craft shop grand opening. The depot was operated by Nancy Marshall.10
David A. Pfeiffer, National Archives, on December 5, 1997, had the following to say about the Freight House.
December 5, 1997
This is in response to your facsmile request of November 4, 1997.
The railroad valuation records of the Interstate Commerce Commission (Record Group 134) are in the custody of this branch. Enclosed for your information is a flyer which gives details of the various series of valuation records. We have determined that the freight depot at Forest, Ohio, was jointly owned by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad (Big 4) and the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago Railroad (PRR), however the depot was inventoried by the ICC in the Big 4 engineering field notes. Enclosed are copies of the pertinent pages of the building notes for this depot (accession 58A485, box 194, Big 4 valuation [.pdf format] section 42 Ohio). The freight station in Forest, Ohio was a "special" one story, brick, building with a slate roof, built in 1887. The dimensions were 50' x 107' and 38' by 25'.
David A. Pfeiffer
Textual Reference Branch.11
In 2000, the Forest-Jackson Public Library purchased the Freight house and currently resides there. The Forest-Area Historical Society stores their colleciton at the Library and rotate displays in the Eloise (Price) Hebble Historical & Reading Room.
Looking over the deed on the Freight House are two members of the Forest-Jackson Library Board of Trustees.12
In June, 2000 the Forest-Jackson Library trustees bought the Freight House for the library. The trustees were concerned with their limited space of 1500 square feet of current space at the time and decided that the 5000 square feet in the Freight House would be more than adequate to solve their space dilemma. Also, the three year mortgage with no accumulated interest from Ray Marshall may have also helped in the move. At the time the library currently housed 12,900 books, periodicals, and other material. To see more about the Freight House look here.13
The original weigh scales are present and still weigh accurately. The original roofing slate has been removed and a new asphalt roof installed in the summer of 2005. Some of the old slate roofing was placed inside as wall covering. The original ticket counter is just inside the main doors and rail spikes are available to hang coats. Several railroad lanterns, all original, adorn the area. The original roadway in the front was closed and handicap access was added in 2003. The mortgage was paid off in 2005.
Several individuals and groups have, over the years, related information & stories about the Freight House. Billie Newland, (Forest, OH), Lon Heferman, (Forest, OH), Jim Minix (Kenton, OH), Bo Richardson (Kenton, OH), Ray Combs (Kenton, OH), Pearl Kimblebine (Kenton, OH), Joseph Shields, (Forest, OH), Jeanette Dille (Richmond, VA), Maura Johnson-Lee (Bowling Green, OH), Jeff Brown (N.E. Ohio Archives), Toledo-Lucas Co. Public Library (Toledo, OH), the Mad River Museum (Bellevue, OH), and the Pennsylvania RR Museum (Strasburg & Altoona, PA).
According to one report, "Conrad Zimmerman came to the Forest area in 1837 and purchased 160 acres of land. All land at that time was purchased throught the Federal Land Office in Bucyrus, Ohio. Mr. Zimmerman later sold 60 acres of his land to John Gormley and another twenty acres to J. Harvey Davis. Most of the Village of Forest now stands on this land purchased by Gormley & Davis. It would appear from the records at Kenton, that some difficulty arose or some peculiar conditions existed at the time of the survey and laying-out of Forest, as we find recorded that John A. Gormlay was appointed a Commissioner by the Court of Common Pleas of Hardin County at their June term in 1854, to act under especial authority, and that the survey was made and the town laid off in lots, streets and alleys by J. Harvey Davis, and the same platted and recorded, being duly acknowledged by said John A. Gormley March 13, 1855.14
Another stated that ... the Freight House was a "special" one story, brick building, with a slate roof. The dimensions were 50' x 107'4" and 38' x 25'. The walls were 13" thick brick. The roof was slate. It had two platforms that ran the length of the building on the front and back sides. One deck was 2" thick planks, 4'9" x 104'4" long. The other deck was 2" thick planks, 5'10" x 107'4" long. For fire protection the building was equiped with 5 water barrels and 10 buckets.15
There have been modifications the the building over the years; the north side loading dock was removed (date unknown); the exterior was sandblasted and tuck pointed (1970s), ceilings were installed (unknown date), and in 1973 the interior was sub-divided into four large rooms, some dock doors were modified with windows, the slate roofing was removed and replaced by asphalt, & roofing slate was used to cover interior walls.
1Hardin Co.. Recorders Office (Kenton, OH) Vol L, p.565.
2ibid. Vol 58, p.517 and Vol 86, p.334.
3Forest Review (Forest, OH) 28 Dec 1892, p.6.
4ibid. 14 Sep 1894.
5ibid. 14 May 1903, p.5.
6[Forest Review-Advertiser (Forest, OH) 8 Jun 1916.
71930 US Fed Cen, ed:16, sh10B, en:33-16, sd:12, ln::51-52 and Jeanette (Ewing) Dille, daughter of Clayton Ewing.
8Hardin Co. Recorders Office (Kenton, OH) Vol 58, p.51.
9ibid. Vol 85, p.264, 335, Vol 88, p.113, and Vol 106, p.18.
10ibid. Vol 129, p.330.
11Valuation Sect No. 42, I.C.C. Inventory No. 16, Interstate Commerce Commission, Division of Valuation, National Archives at College Park, MD 20740-6001, 5 Dec 1997.
12Daily Chief Union (Upper Sandusky, OH) 9 Jun 2000.
13Kenton Times (Kenton, OH) 14 Aug 2000 and Mark J. Camp, Coalroad Depots of West Central Ohio Reuse of Depots, p.123.
14The History of Hardin County, Ohio Warner, Beers & Co., Chicago, 1883.
15A Twentieth Century History of Hardin Co., OH, Vol 1, Minnie Ichler Kohler, The Lewis Publ. Co., Chicago, 1910, pp.73-75.