After the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad was built, one of their first trains ran through Forest to Kenton (July 4, 1846). Between 1853-54, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago R.R. (finally the Pennsylvania R.R., but at the time, known as the Ohio & Indiana RR) was built, their first train to Forest being on January 10, 1854 when Forest was the western terminus.
On November 1, 1854 the trackage reached Fort Wayne. The crossing of the two railroads was a major reason for laying out the village of Forest, though it never really grew until the 1870s when many people of German descent migrated to the area. In one century (1816-1914) the transatlantic exodus brought about 5.5 million Germans to the United States. For example from 1866 to 1873 while Bismarck was unifying the German imperial state and economy, over 800,000 Germans arrived. Many found their way to Ohio and eventually to Forest.
In the evening of July 4, 1879 there was a grand festival at the Freight Depot served up by the Forest Rescue Fire Company. Served were strawberries, raspberries, cake, and lemonade. All people of Forest were invited. As a note, blackberries at the time wer selling for 5-7 cents per quart.
In August, 1879 Forest was requesting that the railroads build a Union Depot as the stanties used for baggage, etc. were not very commodious or useful buildings. Forest residents complained about the depot doors being kept closed daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m when passengers were awaiting trains though they were opened when packing eggs for shipment during evening.
The traveling public, especially those who found it necessary to change cars at Forest, would find a large union depot near the crossing, where they could wait for trains at their leisure. Should they not be provided with furs and wraps sufficient to keep out the cold wintry blasts, wood and coal could be gathered along the tracks and campfires built for their comfort. It was also necessary for travelers to provide themselves with umbrellas in case of rain, as the depot was not underr roof nor the stairways put in. As seats were not in demand passengers could keep warm better by walking around for exercise. Those were the railroad accomodations for the traveling public, who found it necessary to come Forest's way on either of the railroads crossing the place.
J.J. Colley was the baggage master of the C.S. & C. Ry at Forest in 1879. He was prostrated by the heat of August and was confined to his room for a time.
The depot was quite a benefit to the town of Forest. Passengers wishing to take the train could purchase tickets from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. They could find accomodations at the businesss houses until they closed up, after that they could sit on the platform and flag a train with a lighted paper.
Then in September, 1902 the citizens of Forest called upon openly in written complaints to the State Commissioner of railroads and telegraphs egarding the matter of lack of a suitable depot on the Big Four line. The complaintent village drew up a legal argument and was sure that there would be a probable defense of the railroad's remissness in building a depot.
The Big Four and the Pennsylvania baggage rooms were one after "consolidation" took place on 23 Feb 1903 when an agent placed a brand new lock on the formers door. Both baggage departments were to operate in the Pennsylvania depot building. The former Big Four baggage room was later used for some other purpose. The arrangement was not handy for baggage masters but patrons of the lines found it just as convenient.
The Review was glad of indications from the Big Four line to increase the wages of its hands, and hoped that it would save enough out of the bigness of its heart to buy a suitable light to be used at its depot in Forest, which was in total darkness except when a passenger train stopped at the station.
By not heating the Forest depot the railroads were saving quite a nice bit to apply to the two cent fare receipts in March, 1906. It was thought that the expression "its a cold day" originated from waiting passengers at the Forest depot. Most of the "fire" at the depot around that time was from the Review. What the Pennsylvania and Big Four combined depot wanted before another winter was to procure and install an adequate heating furnace, or even a small stove. Great numbers of growls and kicks were registered at the Forest depot because of its being an icebox, and the traveling public was beginning to believe that it was the niggardliness of the railroads that prevented the depot being heated to a half way comfortable degree. The trouble was said to be in the furnace and the variety of fuel used. But whatever it was, it was little short of an outrage to require passengers to wait their trains in such a place.
The depot did get painted in July, 1906.
Again in November, 1906 people were complaining of the coldness of the depot. "Out of the Pennsylvania's plenty, a bushel or two of coal ought to be spared for the Forest depot. That is if it won't interfere with the 10 percent raise of the employees. "
Wiring for electricity was completed 5 Nov 1907 for the Big Four and Pennsy freight office. That was the first time electricity was to be used by freight office, the lights and wiring being tested thoroughly by an "expert" employed by the roads.
The engine in this photograph is a 4-4-0 of the Mad River R.R. pulling a baggage/coach combination car, a railway post office car, and two coaches along a single section of track. It is traveling north from Patterson. To the right in photograph 2 is a hand car shed with the Forest switch tower behind it.
A new bulletin board for the Big Four line was indicated to go up in January, 1908. It was finally installed on 3 Mar 1908.
A spring inspection of the Pennsylvania took place on 14 Apr 1908 ... when a special train of three coaches carring 20 "keen-eyed" gentlemen. The union freight offices, where agent R.R. Edwards was in charge, presented the best and cleanest look it had had in year. The depot was in order as always, L.H. Heffernan being king there. The furnace and oil room of J.W. Young was spic & span, as was every inch of the interlocking apparatus in his charge. The levers, telegraph instruments, switchboards, etc., of the tower had never looked better. Every lever, shift, wire, signal, pipe, and connection was tried. Even the clock pendulum had been polished.
It seemed that during the summer months anytime the Big Four train arrived in the afternoon a drenching rain would occur and a number of exceedingly moist passengers would pile into the depot.
A new ten ton scale was placed in the union freight depot during the month of November, 1908.
Elmer Nye helped at the depot in the absence of R.R. Edwards in June, 1909.
At the depot in Forest a huge playcard was pasted the week of 27 Jun 1909 by the Pan Handle railroad authorities offering a reward of $5,000 for the arrest and conviction of the dynamiters of bridge material intended for the reconstruction of the Steubenville bridge which was in cars on a siding at Whelling, WV which was destroyed on the morning of 26 Jun 1909.
Harold Young and Louis Stondt missed arriving at the depot in Forest on 11 Jul 1909. They were returning from a long excursion train and assumed the train would be stopping in Forest. The train did not stop and they had to spend the night in Kenton.
Quite a bit of excitement occurred at the depot on the night of 27 Sep 1909 by Edw. Simpson landing a good stiff crack on the jaw of a man who showed symptoms of wanting to beat the livery firm of Simpson & Zimmerman out of the cost of a rig which he had hired the previous Saturday. The fellow who stopped the good fist, which knocked him sprawling, had been about Forest for some weeks selling a household urenail. When he got the rig he stated that he wanted to go to Kirby, but instead drove to Adrian. He left early on Saturday and returned in the afternoon on Sunday. The events arrived just before the train went east.
The connecting wire between the power station and the installed lights at the Union depot was strung 7 Jan 1910. Also the following week carpenters did some repairing at the depot.
For some time before January, 1910 an effort had been made by Atty. C.M. Reigle and others having the union depot opened at night for the early morning trains on the Big Four. Two of them usually arrived about 2 a.m. The matter was finally taken up with the state railroad commissioner. A letter was received by Atty. Reigle from the State Railroad Commissioner saying that he was in receipt of a letter from Supt. Bayley, of the Big Four, who stated that arrangements had been made with Night Officer Liles to open the depot for the trains mentioned for the accomodation of passangers.
On account of the recent heavy rains about two feed of water stood in the basement of the Big Four and Pennsylvania depot, no fire could be built in the furnace Monday and Tursday. Wednesday morning men were employed to pump the water out.
In December, 1924 telephone was installed in the ticket office at the union depot so residents could check the time of trains and information concerning express.
On July 17, 1926 Lawrence H. Hefferman, local Freight Agent, met with his doctor, Joseph H. Wynn, M.D. about his declining health. Dr. Wynn had known him since 1894, the last two being his physician.
When the July 20, 1927 fire caused by a tank car explosion occurred, Fred Wright took it upon himself to help divert the tragedy "... and to him goes much of the credit for saving the business section of the town from possible destructuion by fire." A Pennsylvania freight train had set fire and destroyed the depot, railroad offices and adjacent structures causing approximately $200,000 in damages before being brought under control.
Agent E.J. Bogan informed residents that Forest would have a depot to replace the one which had burned down. In the mean time there were two chairs in the freght office for the use of lady passengers awaiting trains and a fence had been build around the ruins of the old depot.
Dr. Wynn wrote to the Pennsylvania R.R. officials indicating that Mr. Hefferman's "health has been on the decline for the past two years and I believe it would be advisable for him to discontinue from active service" and be placed on the retirement list. Later that week Mr. Hefferman sent a letter to Mr. W.E. Leonard, Acting Supervisor, Ft. Wayne, IN requesting that he be placed on the retirement list after 52 years of service. At the time Mr. Hefferman was 68 years old. In his letter he recommended Mr. E.J. Bogan, Express Agent, to be the new Station Agent.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Co. retired Mr. Hefferman on November 1, 1926 after 52-3/12 years of service. Later, on July 28, 1928, the Western Region of the Pennsylvania Railroad wrote to Mr. Hefferman about his receiving one of the "thirty-two" buttons issued in "recognition of appreciation of valued service" to active and retired employees of the Division.
Along with his father, John Hefferman, they had 99 years of service to the Pennsylvania Railroad with John working 47 years and Lawrence working 52 years.
Forest and the surrounding area did well in collecting help materials for the Dayton, Ohio flood victims of 1929. The individuals standing around the station in the photograph below are awaiting the train to load freight cars with the materials they have collected locally to help in the relief. There are three full readily seen freight wagons with possibly more in the background.
More on the Dayton flood relief.
"For many years when trains used to stop in Forest, the citizens clamored for a depot. Now when the trains (with the exception of a few) fail to stop here, we have a nice little depot. Ain't that just the way things go in this life. Forest is also a busless town."
An effortwas made in September, 1944 by Mayor King to have the Pennsylvania Ry. Co. return to the Village the lot previously given the railroad to build a passenger depot. The depot was not built. The Village considered only leasing the lot if it could not be returned. The lots location was just west of the Burk & Fox factory and was needed for a public parking lot for the Village.
R.M. Moeper, Supt. of the Ft. Wayne division of the Pennsylvania Ry., gave the R. Burt Jaquith a pleasant call on Thursday afternoon, 5 Sep 1947. In that conversation Jaquith asked Roeper why that railroad had discontinued the last train that stopped in the Village. Roeper replied that the people did not seem to want the train as only five tickets had been sold in Forest for the train and that the railroad company could not afford to stop a train for that amount of patronage. When informed that the Review was unable to get office space due to an earlier fire Roeper indicated that the newspaper could use the depot.
Girls in the gay nineties went to the depot at train time to flirt with traveling men and to see who got on and off the trains. Burt Jaquith wondered if that were the reason for the trains finally to quit stopping at Forest. At one time tickets were sold to Pennsylvania riders at the Forest City House office and tickets for the Big Four at the Scott House because there wasn't a depot. Now Forest has a depot but no trains stop here, and there are no hotels.
In January of 1950 Burt Jaquith wrote an editorial about the depot. "Years ago Forest had no depot building. The Pennsylvania Railway had it ticket office and waiting room in the Forest City House and the Big Four Railway rented space in the Scott House for its ticket office and waiting room. For many years the citizens of Forest clamored for a depot, but to no avail. When clamoring failed, ridicule was tried. One Halloween a double toilet was moved to a spot near the railroad crossing. One door to the building waa labeled Pennsylvania Raiway ticket office and the other door Big Four Railway ticket office. However no tickets were sold in this building, for early the next morning the building was removedd away by the section men. In those days, before the automobile age, many passengers changed cars in Forest, and there was no depot building. Now Forest has a fine depot building, and no passengers to use same, so the depot building is being advertised for sale. How time have changed."
By 19 May 1950 no trains stopped in Forest on the Pennsylvania Railroad and had not for several months prior. Even if one did obtain a ticket, they could not get or or off a Pennsylvania train in Forest as the platforms on both sides of the tracks had been removed and the depot sold. Too many automobiles had kill railroad service by the Pennsylvania into and out of Forest.
In October, 1950 a depot still stood at the crossing of the Pennsylvania and the N.Y.C. railroads in Forest. It served as a monument to the memory of people who reside in Forest when tains once stopped.
After purchase of the depot by Dow Harman, Jr. of Forest, it was torn down and the lumber salvaged. The depot, located near the crossing of the Pennsylvania and the New York Central railways, and used as a union station since 1928, disappeared.
The railroads passing through Forest after March, 1951 were running some beautiful streamlined trains, but one would have to look quickly to see the trains because they didn't even hesitate on their way past Forest.
In February, 1956 village council was approached by Howard A. Walton, owner of several properties in Forest, who appeared with a problem involving a property located across the street from the offices of the Burk & Fox plant and back of the home formerly owned by Herbert Hawthorne on East Lima street. It seemed that many years before, circa 1896, the Pennsylvania Railroad acuired title to the property bounded on the north by Sandusky avenue, on the east by N. Warner street, and on the west by an alley which extended from Lima street to Sandusky avenue. In the transactionss involved between the railroad and the village officials, a portion of Sandusky avenue was given to the railroad in exchange for a forty foot strip of land on the south end of the lot. Then another twenty foot strip of land was given by the railroad to the village off the west part of the lot which wa added to the existing alley, increasing the alley width from twenty feet to forty feet, thus providing a forty foot street around the railroad property which was to be the site of a new depot. A union station was erected near the crossing of the Pennsylvania and New York Central tracks and the depot proposal on Sandusky avenue abandoned. Since then, the deeds have indicated the property adjoined the railroad on the north and an undeveloped street which crossed the south end of the lot owned by Walton having been acquired by J.E. Simpson who purchased it from the railroad years earlier. Confusion occurred. Walton suggested the village join with him to get the property redeeded so the property and streets could remain. If not, the village stood to lose use of a portion of Sandusky avenue and Walton would lose the use of the forty foot southern strip of property. A water main ran east and west through the strip which was considered a street but which would become private property in the exchange and correction of deeds. Councilmen agreed that a mutual benefit would had to revert the property back to current state, but the question was, "what to do about the water line?" Clearing the title to the property would involve considerable expense from funds not available. Solicitor Alfred Brindley was requested by council to investigage the title and make a report.
At the March meeting of the Village Council Mr. Brindley made a report on the problem presented at the February meeting in regard to the property located near the Pennsylvania Railroad between Warner and Gormley streets, opposite the Burk & Fox Company. It appeared that on 7 sep 1896 the Village of Forest vacated a portion of East Sandusky avenue to permit the railroad company to build a depot adjacent to their right-of-way. The tract of land in consideration was deeded to the railroad by a William Jackson in February, 1896. He also deeded a portion of the area to the village for street purposes. In the intervening years, the several deeds which had been conveyed, had confused the property lines to the extent that it was believed three owners were involved in the matter; the railroad, the village, and Howard Walton. Walton had recently purchased the main portion of Lots 7 and 8 of Block 8, the property questioned. Walton was seeking to have the lots restored to their original position which would assure the village of the use of Sandusky avenue and would give him use of a forty foot section on the south end of the lot which had been plotted for a street encircling the depot property. Further negotiation between Walton and the Village Solicitor would be required before legal action could be taken by the officials who desired to cooperate with Walton in restoring the property to its original staus without involving the expense of moving or the liability for a water line located on the portion thought to belong to the village, but never used a a throughfare.
Village Council voted in July, 1957 to abandon a small parcel of land once given for street purposes when the village was negotiating with the Pennsylvania Railway Company for a new depot to be located near the Burk & Fox Company plant on Sandusky avenue. In a published copy of the resolution of the Council, a description of the parcel was given. It was somewhat hard to decipher, but refered to a ten foot wide strip of land along a lot paralleling an alley near property acquired by Howard A. Walton in rear of the Shell station.
After nearly seven months of study, discussion, and investigation the retiring members of the Village Council dumped the matter of vacating a portion of a downtown alley and the "swap" of an unimporved street for part of Sandusky avenue into the laps of the newly-elected councilmen who were to take over in January, 1958. At a meeting on 8 Dec 1957 the final meeting for four of the six Councilmen, Howard Walton appeared again before the group in his effors to clear title to land acquired from the railroad which was involved in a deal with the village years before for the purpose of erecting a depot. Sitting with the Councilmen were members of the Water Board, D. Ray Baum, Ralph MCElroy, and Clyde Seebach. The Board of Public Affairs were involved since a main water line laid in the land discussed and would have to be relocated if the change of land and vacation of a portion of the alley were allowed. The Village Council had had the matter under consideration for more than six months. In order to permit the construction of a depot along Pennsylvania Railroad, the village in 1896 authorized a portion of Sandusky avenue to be closed in exchange for a ten foot parcel of land on the south end of the quarter block bounded by Sandusky avenue on the north, Warner street on the east, private property to the south, and an alley on the west, and acquired an additional twenty feet of the quarter block parcel along the west alley to provide for a full forty foot street around the proposed depot. According to the deed held by Walton, he owned that part of Sandusky avenue from Warner street to the first alley west and all of the quarter block parcel except a ten foot strip along the east line of the alley. Walton was seeking to have Sandusky street revert back to the Village in exchange for the forty foot strip on the south and the vacating of the ten foot strip along the alley which would put the property back into it original state and as it then existed. None of the changes made by the Village in 1896 had ever been put into use. Village Councilmen had agreed previously to proceed with all necessary legislation to fulfill the request by Walton, however, since the main water line serving the northt side of the business block was in the center of the forty foot strip it was deemed necessary to ask the Board of Public Affairs if avenue line could be moved and costs the Board assume costs. In November Walton estimated the cost of relocating about three hundred feed of line would cost the Council $3 per foot. He offered to assume the cost of the work. Member of the Board of Public Affairs advised Council that the line was satisfactory and should any expense should occur it should be born by those to be benefitted. Some council members believed that Walton should pay for any movement of the line. Others believed that the village should pay. In the end, Brindley, village solicitor, advised Council and Walton that formal petition for vacancy would be required. Retiring councilmen were unwilling to commit. It was left with blowing corn cobs and smelly sewers.