orest Rail History.
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 tracks 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.
Railroads were barely making expenses in the early months of 1878. The rates on freight were down to their lowest figures. February accounted for over 700 thousand pounds of C.S. & C. railroad freight in Forest. That tonnage only generated approximately $1,700. An accident in March on the P.F. railroad near Mansfield throwing a freight engine and several cars into a ditch killed the engineer and fireman, and severly wounded the brakeman. It interrupted all freight trains moving through Forest to the west that day. In April the P.F. Railway Co. built 2,000 freight cars all of which would pass through Forest eventually.
Frank B. Reese was an agent for the C.S.&C. rail road in the 1870s. In July, 1878 he tried to extract a cartridge from his revolver. It fired causing the bullet to pass through the brim of his hat, the powder to burning his face severely. Frank helped Charlie F. Colley to learn the rail roading business and telegraphy. Charlie later became assistant trainmaster at Galion for the New York, Lake Erie & Western railroad in 1884.
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 shanties 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.
Tramps "riding the rails" through Forest were ever present. In 1879 an editorial was written about how they "huddled in groups on the break-beam" which ran under the freight cars within 18 inches of the ground. Rail road personnel did their best to "keep their trains free of the nuisance but beat them they did."
Telegraphers working for the railroad were well respected in the community as their job depended upon accuracy. One old telegrapher was quoted, "The letter "t" in the word "there" cost our telegraph company several thousand dollars a few years ago. Schamacher, the oatmeal king, sent a heavy order for oats to Chicago, and the price agreed upon was "35¢ delivered in cars here," which was metamorphosed into "35¢ delivered in cars there." The letter "t" in this case represented freight charges on several hundred thousand bushels of oats from Chicago to Akron, O., and as the settlement was made on the basis of the telegraphic order, the company was held responsible for this account." Telegraphers also worked 12-hour days, 365 days a year, including all holidays. Some of them were Allen West (days), Bob Wiley, Charlie Bell, and Frank Stansell (nights).
In May, 1879 the south bound mail train was delayed at Forest due to a hot box." Hot box refers to an overheated journal box on a railroad car.
Isaac Elder, of Mt. Blanchard was seriously injured August 20th when at train on the C.S.&C. railroad had struck his wagon containing a load of wheat, himself, and two of his children. Just south of Mt. Blanchard the horses became unmanageable and they bolted, ran into the train killing them. His eldest child was 8 years of age. Both children were considered in good condition with Elder having a 5-inch gash on his head. His recovery was doubtful but by the next day he was recovering rapidly.
... the Kansas railway lines requested their eastern connections to place on sale in their various ticket offices round-trip land explorers' tickets to points in Kansas, at reduced rates. These tickets were called land explorers' tickets. Each one of the Kansas lines selected one point on their line to which these land explorers' tickets should be placed on sale. The point designated on our Kansas division was Abilene. The principal lines west of Buffalo and Pittsburg have these tickets on sale at reduced rates. The majority of the poeple who purchased these tickets wish to go farther west on our line to purchase or take up land. ...
An agreement of the railroad board later concluded that persons desiring to go west to look for land could get reduced rates and it seems that Forest was one of the points for a "land explorers' ticket".
In 1886, "... the rail roads have reduced the rates to land explorers." There was an inquiry by the Union Pacific Railway Company relative to the sale of tickets to "land explorers." Judge James Humphrey at Topeka, Kansas received a letter from D.E. Cornell (a general station agent) citing
At Forest, O. on 19 Sep 1887 two freight trains on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago rail road, collided, setting five oil cars on fire. A car loaded with dynamite cartridges exploded, killing Fireman Fred Brough and fatally infuring Engineer Lyons. It also was the cause of death for, George Smith, of Cleveland, O., who was stealing a ride at the time.
The C.S.&C. north bound passenger knocked a man off a bridge at Forest, Thursday afternoon, of last week and killed him instantly.—Tiffin News.
A mistake. There are no railroad bridges at or near Forest, and no man was killed here. It must have been at Kenton.
A freight wreck east of Nevada on the P.F.W. & C. Ry occurred in November, 1890, and caused the delay to the west bound passenger trains in Forest. The freight was pulling over a heavy grade when the train broke, the rear part running down the grade and creshing into the forward part of the train demolishing a number of cars. It scattered merchandise in every direction though no one was hurt by the accident. Nearly all the great railroad system had hospitals for the benefit of their employees. The hospitals were partly supported by monthly deductions from the pay of employees. At the time the Big Four Ry was making an average $1.01 per mile run for passenger services while they averaged $1.87 per mile for freight. American freight cars at the time carried about thirty tons of of weight, the cars themselves weighing about nine tons.
An Arm Crushed.
A terrible accident befell one of Forest citizens yesterday on his first trip on the local train of Sandusky branch of the Big Four from here yesterday morning. He had not been on the train one half hour before he fell from the top of a car which was being switched, till he was thrown from it to the track beneath and received injuries from which may never recover. His left arm was crushed and splintered between the shoulder and elbow. His chin was also badly cut together with many other bruises about the body. The timely presence of Johnny Dargon who pulled his body from the track prevented his being ground to pieces by a car that was fast approaching.
That any one in particular was to blame we can not learn at this writing. There was a slight drizzle falling and was freezing at the time making it very dangerous to be on the top of a car for the most experienced had. And as this was his first attempt to brake, he was easily thrown off. He was carried immediately to the office of Drs. Gemmill & Mundy where he received prompt medical attention. Drs. Gemmill, Mundy, and Cook administered chloroform and toke the shattered bones from his arm and every effort will be made to prevent amputating it.
Mr. Hagerman has a wife and three children whom he has to support by day works and is without other means. He being without work made him undertake htis dangerous task, and shows his willingness to gain an honor livelihood, and as he belongs to no secret organization or had no insurance, favors shown him will be charity thrown in the right direction.
On the Wabash Ry system, in a 24 hour period, 4,991 carloads of paying freight were handled. The November 1890 wreck near Nevada was estimated to cost that railroad 30 to 40 thousand dollars.
The telegraph and business office occupied by agent Moler in the freight house was undergoing a complete renovation; ceiled and repaired, and a new floor laid in May, 1891. Residents indicated that if railroads built a decent passenger depot for their patrons they would be getting things in a fair shape and do a commendable act for the traveling public.
D.L. Harmon kept a restaurant by the Big Four railroad in July, 1891. He had been missing $2 to $6 each morning when he opened his place of business. One Friday evening he communicated that loss to B.F. McGinnis, Forest's city marshal and the two set a trap to catch the night visitor. Friday night, Mr. Harmon locked his doors securely, went home and retired, leaving the marshal on the inside of his restaurant to stay the night if necessary. The stay was not long though as shortly after twelve a key was inserted into the door and turned. A young man somehwat disguised, softly tripped behind the counter, pulled the till, and deftly slipped change from each of the dividison of the money drawer, not taking all but as on previous visits taking only a part, and then as quickly tried to make his exit. The marshal during this time had been standing behind the door as thrown open when entered, peering at the burgler, and just as he was about to escape closed the door in from of him and closed his arms around the man whom he recognized as Elmer Thrush. At the time of entry Thrush had taken advantage of a passing Big Four freight's noise. Thrush was presented before Mayor Paul where he was given a $200 bond. He didn't explain where he got the key. He was transfered to the Kenton jail. He was later released on a writ of Habeus corpus by Probate Judge Wood. Considerable excitement about the arrest and jailing of Thrush occurred in Forest. Mayor Paul was found to have made several errors in his warrant which jailed Thrush, one being that he hadn't included the name of the village on the warrent.
There was a flag drill held in the depot in September, 1891 when all the boys in Forest could get a smile from the young ladies conducting the drill.
On 23 Oct 1891 a large crowd was at the depot to witness Nebraska on Wheels," a train which consisted of four cars, two of which were filled with the products of Nebraska farms, orchards and gardens. A stream of visitors flowed through the cars during the hour of exhibition. Fifteen counties of Nebraska were represented and prominent men from each were present to describe the west. Agent E.N. Howe took pictures of the train the crowd.
Pay for conductors in 1891 was $2.50 per day. They were asking the railroad to raise pay to $3.25 per day. Freight brakemen were paid $1.75 per day and they were asking the railroad to increase that to $2.10 per day. Beside these two jobs the railroads had ticket agents, telegraph operators, freight agents, express agents, and baggage masters. Sometimes one individual being all of these people. The Pittsburg Post was cited in the Forest Review the same year indicating engineers were making enough to be "comparatively wealthy" in the $20-25,000 range.
E.E. Kenon, who was attending the P.F. water tank west of Forest at the Blanchard river on 7 Dec 1891, while attempting to board a freight train with a dog and a gun in his arms, was thrown off and broke his leg. Had it not been for the timely discovery of an open switch by Josh Silverthorn the night of 10 Dec 1891, just after a heavy freight had gone north, the Big Four might have sustained a heavy loss during the night by a wreck. Josh immediately notified agent Gardner, who went to Forest at once and notified the section boss," while Josh stood guard at the switch with a latern ready to flag down any trains that may have come along. The switch was repaired as soon as the section men could get to it and a wreck was avoided.
Charley Swartz, son of David Swartz, met with a serious accident 2 Mar 1892 while playing near the depot. He was thrown off a tie pile and broke his arm. Dr. Mundy set the broken bones.
Homer Guyer was a telegraph operator at the Big Four office. In April, 1892, C.W. Shireman replaced him due to his promotion to the St. Louis office. John Griffin, a big and likeable person by Big Four employes and officials, was Roadmaster of the Sandusky Division & resided in Forest.
June being a hot month, Ray Cesna, dispensed lemonade, peanuts and candies from a stand near the freight house in 1892. Later in October, the freight end ticket office received a much needed improvement by way of a new coat of paint.
On 5 Jun 1892 a morning train from the south was about three hours late on account of a slight wreck a short distance below Kenton. On the morning of 15 Nov 1892, Emanuel Drummond, left his home located three miles east of town to go to Forest. Thinking he could jump on a passing freight train he made the attempt and met with the result that often met with such reckless exploits. he was thrown under the train receiving injuries of a fracture to his collar bone and a crushed leg above the ankle. Dr. Swimley of Forest and Dr. Burns of Kirby amputated his leg below the knee and dress his wounds.
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.
In June, 1894 a Ft. Wayne wreck-train went through Forest to clear up a wreck caused by two freight trains colliding. In the wreck about twenty-four cars were ditched, and a couple of the trainmen badley injured. All east bound trains were compelled to go around the wreck over the C.& E., No. 39, due at 9:45 in Forest, did not arrive until 1:00 o'clock.
Faithfully attending to his duties as trackwalker traveling east from Kirby, Nicholas Sebenoler, was struck by an east bound freight train the snowy evening of 11 Feb 1910 and instantly killed. He was 65 years old. He had been carrying his lantern in front of him, but due to the snow the engineer did not see him in time to prevent his death. Sebenoler was the father-in-law of operator Cornelea, of Kirby.
As conductor Dugan on a southbound Big Four feight was preparing to pull onto the main track from the siding north of the Pennsylvania tracks around midnight on 2 Aug 1916 he found the dead body of fireman Barber who had been firing on one of the engines of a double header that was pulling his train. It was assumed that he had been sitting or sleeping along the tracks after climbing out of the cab while waiting for a late train and was hit by a passenger train. His body was not mangled. There had been much confusion on the Big Four that night due to a wreck near Herzog lime kiln. Barber had only been married two weeks.
David G. Mayhorn, a retired crossing watchman for the Pennsylvania Ry., was killed in a crossing accident at the street crossing near his home on the north side of Forest. Mayhorn had been enroute to Henry Durenberger's to get milk for supper. As he approached the Big Four railroad, he evidently did not see or hear a train and drove onto the railroad in front of a northbound freight train. He was employed by the Pennsylvania Ry. for 10 years, 1927-1937.
A Big Four wreck in the early 20th century occurred near Forest when a load of ore cars upset. The cars were probably from the Herzog quarry which was located at the McVitty stop south of Patterson.
CARS STACKED BY BROKEN TRUCK
Freight Wreck Occurs on the Pennsy Near Forest. Wreck Crews were Called from Crestline and Ft. Wayne.
Two West Bound and Three East Bound Passenger Trains Detoured Around the Scene of the Accident. The first wreck of any consequence that has occurred of the Ft. Wayne Crestline division of the P. Ft. W. & C. railroad for several months befell an east bound freight train on that road early this morning at a point between the stations of Dunkirk and Forest. The train was running at a rapid rate of speed when a truck under one end of a box car broke and in an instant several cars were piled up in a confused mass of debries. The cars were badly wrecked and the track was so badly torn up and blocked that both the wreck crew from Ft. Wayne and the one from Crestline were hurried to the scene. Fortunately no one was injured in the wreck but the track was so badly blocked that traffic was considerably delated before the debris was cleared away by the wreck crews. East bound passenger trains Nos. 6, 18, & 36 were sent around the scene of the wreck via. Dunkirk, the T. & O. C., Kenton and the Big Four to Forest. West bound passenger trains Nos. 21 and 39 were transferred around the wreck over the same lines. The track was cleared by the wreck crews this afternoon.
Engineer George Horn, formely of the C. & E., who recently applied for a position on the C.H. & D., has been tendered a position on the Hamilton and Indianapolis division of the road. As the L.E. & W. R.R. has been notified by the steel companies that they cannot furnish any more rails this fall, the imporvements intended will be delayed until next spring. The last Cedar Point excrusion of the season has been run over the L.E. & W. R.R.
The framed photograph
A band festival was held in the freight house on Tuesday evening, 29 Jul 1902. Net proceeds amounted to over $22 which was attributed to the residents of Patterson street. On 5 Feb 1903 both of Forest's railroad freight departments received an Elliott & Hatch book typewriter. Will Heffernan and others then engaged in mastering its secrets. The machine was one of the latest and largest sizes at the time and cost $180. In March, 1903 the freight departments of the Big Four and Pennsylvania lines were consolidated in commodions quarters in the west end of the freight house, and when painted up were most pleasant quarters, as they were light and airy. The freight warehouse also was undergoing some needed repairs at the time. A new crossing took the place of an old one near the freight depot on 9 May 1903 and in June the slate roof of the freight house was repaired. Damage had been done to the building some weeks prior due to a tremendous wind squall that wrought havoc in a around Forest. By 1903 the average journey of a ton of freight was 128 miles.
On 29 Oct 1902, Hoadly Johnson stepped in front of a Pennsylvania Fast Train at Ada and was instantly killed. He had gone to Ada to visit friends and was walking down the Pennsylvania railroad tracks when he stepped from the south track to escape an east bound freight train and in so doing placed himself in from of the freight. His brother went to Ada to identify his body.
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.
On 7 Feb 1903 Jno. Naus had a narrow escape of being caught and killed by the east bound local backing on him. He was crossing the tracks south of the freight house with his hay bailer. William Pickett, one of the loacl draymen, while handling freight at the Big Four freight house on the 19th of October (same year) had the misfortune to severely injure his left hand. He had loaded a large roll of linoleum when a horse backed up causing the wagon he was loading to mash his hand between the linoleum and the brick wall of the freight house. He went immediately to a physician where it was found that a bone in his hand was broken.
Some Damage Done by Derailed
Cars on Lindsay Spur.
It was a swift interruption to the car loading operation at Lindsay's elevator last Friday when a Pennsylvania engine backed down with so much vim as to push a car off the end of the spur.
A car of corn was being loaded when the event occurred, and one of those that was standing on the short piece of track left the rails, it plowed through a small structure used by the Lehman Brothers as a receptable for hides, demoshing it, and brought up with considerable force against the rear end of the Big Four hotel, doing a little damage there also. The derailed car was soon placed on the track again.
The editor of the Forest Review wrote thanking the Big Four for increasing the wages of workers and wished that they would spring for a light at the station. In total darkness unless a passenger train stopped he wished the railway would install a light.
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.
A small wreck of a freight just west of Washington on 6 Jan 1904 stopped all traffic for awhile on the Pennsylvania. Two box cars were on the rails across both tracks. A wrecker went through Forest at 8:44, presumably to help with the wreck.
On March 13, 1904 an accident occurred at the dangerous Gormly street crossing of the Pennsylvania line. Benjamin Burnett unfortunately having suffered two fractures of his arm in February which had not healed was crossing the Pennsylvania tracks. Seeing only one train and while upon the south track was hit squarely by an east-bound freight thundering along at high speed. In an instant the horse was pushed along at high speed striking the rig squarely. The horse was pushed and dragged a distance of nearly 100 feet. A section hand quickly put it out of its misery. On the north side of the track about 50 feet from the impact lay Mr. Burdett amid the wreckage of his buggy which was wrapped around him. The editor of the Forest Review was among those who helped in carrying Mr. Burdett to his home. Mr. Burdett suffered fractures to both bones of the right leg among other injuries. Benjaman lived with his wife, Margret E. Burnett, in Mt. Blanchard village, Hancock county. They were born in Ohio in March, 1859 and February, 1864 respectively. They had a daughter, Lizzie M. Burnett, who was born in May, 1885. Burnett was a farmer.
Charles Fultz was a baggage man for the Big Four railroad when the company unloaded a quantity of gravel near the depot in March, 1904. It was to be scattered filling the "watery" places and mud holes.
On June 24, 1904 Misses Mallie Holmes and __ Williams had a narrow escape from the flyer. A long freight train had been going west with so much smoke that it hid entirely from view the flyer going east and not until they were on the track could they see it. They scarcely off the track when it passed.
On the nights of August 17-18, 1904 the Ladies of the M.E. church served supper at the freight house. A 15 year-old boy, Joseph Mullen, who had stolen a watch in Monroeville was captured on a freight by Conductor H.J. Greenlun (12 Aug 1904) and turned over to Chief Handchy for safe keeping until he could be returned to Monroeville. After stealing the watch the boy boarded an east bound freight and the chief of police wired the conductor.
In November, 1904 a wagon got out of control and was narrowly saved by the quick actions of Allen Liles when he sprang into action and with a tremendous jump landing on the runaway rig and grabbed up the lines stopping the animal pulling the rig. Both were within 100 feed of the railroad tracks where a freight was crossing at the time. No damage was done and Mr. Liles was commended for his activity.
C.S. Wilson and his daughter, Electra Wilson, were on their way home from a funeral at McGuffy December 2, 1904 and nearing the McVitty switch when a passenger, and shortly afterward a freight train passed. The weather was sleety and the glass in the storm curtain was hardly transparent. Mr. Wilson asked his daughter to open the curtain at one side that they may know exactly where they were. When she did so, they found that they were on the track and the a box car was backing swiftly toward them. Mr. Wilson gave the lines a violent pull and the horse backing suddenly barely missed being hit by the car. The horse at that moment became frightened and continued to back until the buggy reached the rickety fence separating the road from the limekiln quarry which was about thirty feet deep. Had the horse made one leap, all would have landed in a heap on the rocks below and instant death would have been certain.
Algernon Jack" Tarlton, a barber, fell under a Big Four train February 14, 1905 a short distance north and suffered amputation of his left leg above the knee. Drs. Cook, Mundy, and Wolf and John Crum, M.S., did the amputation. Tarlton was going to Tiffin and was on the back platform, but changed his mind and attempted to get off between a passenger and a moving freight train. Shortly after the accident Tarlton made a statement alleging a Brakeman pushed him off the train because he would not go inside the coach. It was not know wether the freight or the passenger train ran over him. Harry McKean, conductor of the freight, and Jacob Hafer, got a buggy from town and took Tarlton to the doctor's office. He was later removed to the Kenton hospital with Dr. Wolf accompanying him.
Karl McCleary, the night operator at "B" tower was off from work with blood poisoning in his right hand in September, 1905. The blister was caused from his handling the heavy lever in the tower. When he tried to open the blister with a pin he contaninated it and the blood poisoning set in.
After the earthquake which struck San Francisco, CA trains passed through Forest carring substance to the thousands who were suffering for the plain necessaries of life there. One train, of thirteen freight cars, at appalling speed, the first one carrying relief, passed through Forest on April 20, 1906 at about 11:00 o'clock in the morning, and the 21st at 11:26 a.m., another of the cars was whirled westward. At 1:52 p.m. the 21st, a train of five cars, running at a speed which gave the hearts of the populace who knew of the circumstance a most warm and generouss glow that the dire wants of the unfortunate would be supplied, passed west. That night three trains wen through bearing substance, and at 4:15 p.m. on the 22nd a train of about eleven cars went west at a high rate of speed; each car bearing a large sign that it was the Evening Telegram Relief Train for Frisco. A communication to Agent Smith from Division freight Agent Diefen??? of the Big Four road, and also from James C. Fargo, president of the American Express Company in New York stated that all clothing, sustenance and relief supplies for the San Francisco sufferers would be carried there free of charge if properly addressed to one of the relief organizations. Supplies of food which came rapidly from outside points were centralized in the freight sheds and warehouses still standing. San Francisco laid off districts covering areas of four blocks. Sub-committees in those districts regulated the supply of food furnished families living withing their boundaries.
In the spring of 1906 a number of earnest gentlemen, all strangers then to Forest, arrived and stated in the presence of it best business men and city officials their desire to construct an electric railway between Findlay and Marion, placing Forest on the line. It was considered to be a genuine and solid boom, stimulating growth and progress. No brass band accompanyied the railway party. They simply stated what they hoped to do and set to their work methodically and with a business air. The franchise was to place the rails along Forest's main streeet. The late Mayor Waltermire, then in office, became very enthusiastic and practically guaranteed a resonable and fair legal permission. Businessmen and citizens were not slow in saying a good word in the right place for the new company. Farmers north and south of Forest exhibited a cordiality toward the new line and freely granted rights-of-way over and past their properties. Rights-of-way were also discussed in Mt. Blanchard, Marseilles, Findlay, and Marion. Work was to begin in the spring of 1907. Forest and vicinity was exceedingly favored with the enterprise of the Findlay-Marion Railway and Light Company. On 4 Feb 1909 and article appeared in The Forest Review indicating that ... Railroads make a town, not towns alone [sic] the railroads. All electric roads, bear in mind, will not only carry you cheaper, and oftener, but will do your freight and express business cheaper and a whole lot quicker. You MUST wake up, and soon, or the Findlay-Marion traction will leave Forest miles off it line. The line is sure to be build, but whether or not through Forest is yours to say.
Backed down upon by a freight train on the afternoon of April 27, 1906, with a speeder smashed and ground into bits, John Dickson, a local lampman, had a narrow escape from death. Dickson had been in the discharge of his duties and was moving west on his machine on the north track near the Forest City House. The butter and egg train was on the south track, also moving westerly, backing at a good rate of speed and was making a crossover, moving in behind Dickson. When the latter discovered the approaching caboose, it was too close to avoid, or to save the speeder. Dickson was sumarily summoned to Ft. Wayne 11 May 1906 by the mighty powers that doth hedge the railroad department bosses, and receive his conge. Mr. Dixon's successor, J.M. Young, of Ft. Wayne, arrived on the 17th with indications that Young would remain awhile. A new speeder had been furnished. Previously two lampmen's resignations were accepted on account of damages to their speeders. Some narrow escapes had been made by others riding speeders and it was looked upon as a red winged hoodoo to damage one.
In May, 1906 a young man living near Forest, jumped on a moving freight train at Heller's Crossing. As that was contrary to the state law, and the detectives of the Pennsylvania road being on the train at the time, he was arrested and when the train arrived in Forest he was brought before Mayor Schott, plead guilty and was giving the minimum of the law, which was $1 and cost amounting to $2.20 which he paid and was discharged from custody. The name of the individual involved at the time was known but withheld by request.
Freight Agent W.R. Smith, at the local office tendered his resignation to the companies which took effect on July 1, 1906. It was not known who would be appointed in his stead. he was been in the position for only a few months and had not stated his intentions as to his future. He was well liked and visited Forest in September, 1908. He had opened a clothing business in Delaware. He may have visited R.R. Edwards, the Big Four freight agent at the time.
A double headed freight train, going north, killed a two year old short horn bull belonging to W.L. Baker the week of November 11, 1906. Mr. Baker lived two and a half miles northeast of Forest and the animal would have been sold to the butcher soon after the incident. The entire Baker family had been absent from home and by some means the animal got out of its enclosure, went to the public road, crossed a cattle guard and onto the track of the railroad. After it was killed it became fastened in some way and was dragged 80 rods. It was necessary at the time to stop the train and haul the carcase from under the cars. When Mr. Baker heard of the incident he got appraisors and had the bull valued. He then sent the bill to the company for $40.
In November, 1906 Ralph Cline and Wm. Hafer accepted positions with the Big Four railroad in the freight house at Middletown, OH.
In December, 1906 relatives in Forest of L.A. Klingler, a brakeman on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh railroad had fallen from his train whie it was traveling at a 40 mile per hour rate. He had suffered terrible wounds to his head, being almost scalped.
Prior to 1907, E.J. Bogan was an express agent for Forest and attended Senate Lodge F. & A.M., of which he was a member.
After about six years with the Big Four line, and eight years with the Pennsylvania company, as freight clerk, W.P. Heffernan resigned that position April 24, 1907 and accepted on with the Dickelman company as shipping clerk. Mr. Heffernan knew all the ins and outs of the freight business. The new freight clerk at the freight house was W.B. Birley.
The bob-tailed caboose of the Big Four switcher derailed at Lima street on the morning of June 24, 1907. It was blocked to make clear track for No. 39 on the Pennsylvania, and the caboose and three cars broke away. A freight train had been switching. A derail did the rest and after about half an hour everything was back to normal.
The Roosevelt Special Train slowed down while traveling thru Forest on October 7, 1907. A big crowd saw President Roosevelt that evening as his special train slowed down for orders. Some greeted him and exchanged a word with him before the train got away, the President waving his handkerchief in adieu. There was a message to deliver the President and also a report from a freight train that had reached Dunkirk that a flock of sheep were on the track near the Blanchard river bridge. The caution signal was displayed and the train officials notified.
About 1:30 a.m. on October 13, 1907 conductor, G.W. Thompson's, Big Four train was attempting to push three cars near the oil tanks from an adjoining track with a pole. A switch was open and the three cars derailed. The crew succeeded replacing one car loaded with stock, but the other cars were loaded with 150 barrels of cement and too heavy for the crane, one so badly broken up that it was afterwards burned.
An experimental engine known as Fat Anna was being tested and used in October. It gained favor with the men in the transportation department with a regular run between Ft. Wayne and Chicago. On October 16, 1907 the train, composed of ten heavy laden cars, made up fifty seven minutes of lost time. Dr. Cook was called about noon on October 16, 1907 to set the fibula of the leg of G.L. Geinbur, a brakeman from Ft. Wayne. He had been standing on the ground and was caught on a bold of one of the cars which hurled him ten feet in the air breaking his leg.
On October 18, 1907 a freight wreck on the T. & O.C. road at Blanchard caused thru passenger trains of that line to go from Kenton to Forest over the Big Four, and then to Dunkirk over the Pennsylvania. The wreck wa caused by a freight train breaking in two and then crashing togethere. No one was hurt.
When the telegraph offices of Kenton, Wharton, and Carey adapted a three trick arrangement all other Big Four offices were to be manned as soon as competent operators could be secured. This would apply to Forest. A three trick arrangement was possibly a third shift. In Febuary, 1908 three trick men were again placed in position at telegraph offices. They had been removed for some time previously. The Big Four had asked U.S. authorities to "extend the time given to make eight hour days in all towers and telegraph offices of the line," but failed. Resumption was to occur on March 1, 1908.
November 5, 1907 saw the first lights powered by electricity installed at the Big Four and Pennsylvania freight office. Lights and wiring would be thoroughly tested by an expert employed by both roads.
A case of fancy cookie snaps in transit was found badly burst open when it came to transfer them at the freight depot one day the week of December 8, 1907, if the hustlers there didn't eat them.
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.
In February, 1908 the Big Four obtained several powerful puller battleship style engines from the P. & E. branch which allowed them to pull much longer freights. Also, during that month, Cova Garver, Ralph Cline, and Robert Karrick went to Springfield to take the examination for operator on the Big Four. Ralph Cline successfully passed the telegrapher's test and was appointed to the West Chester station office between Middletown and Cincinnati.
John Speidel, a freight conductor on the Pennsylvania road, was relegated to the position of flagman in a ertrenchment shuffle of the road's management in April, 1908. Dozens were laid off. His brother, Frank Speidel, an engineer, was moved to fireman. They were promised their old jobs back once business got better.
Forest had an excursion to Cedar Point the week of the April 16, 1908. Return was delayed to Forest due to a wreck of three freight cars at the crossing at Clyde.
The Lima street crossing of the Big Four was repaired the week of May 24, 1908. It is unknown if this was general maintenance or due to some damage. The same crossing was repared again in August. The same item indicated that "using a portion of the high places to fill up the low made an improvement in the Big Four premises Friday." Could this have been filling puddles and holes?
An east bound Pennsylvania freight ran thru a flock of sheep belonging to W.B. Higgins on 2 July 2, 1908 killing six of ten sheep. Higgins' farm was located a few miles west of Forest. Albert __ and his men went to the spot and cleaned up. The M.E. ladies had a supper in the freight house the week of July 5th. They had receipts in excess of $55.
The Pennsylvania flyer was delayed about ten minutes on August 26, 1908 due to a freight train that had broken down between Dunkirk and Forest on track No. 2. They were obliged to change tracks to No. 1 in order to run around the freight. The eccentric strap on the engine gave way in the afternoon and the freight had to sit until 7 p.m. when an engine from Crestline could give it a lift.
A freight car with one set of tracks on one track and the other on another track came to grief the morning of December 10, 1908 near the Fox Elevator. The car, a loaded box car, was somewhat mashed up and had been booked for the repair shop. A Pennsylvania engine was pulling cars east on the house track and had coupled to one standing about 200 feet south of the elevator on the switch. No one saw the car making the staddle until it was dragged 75 or 80 yards off the rails, smashing the interlocking and switch apparatus and almost breaking off the steel semaphone pole. A wrecker from Crestline arrived around noon. Operator Barteldt directed the wrecked removal.
In January, 1909 agent Edwards wanted to know what North American Indian got away with one of the two new trucks used at the warehouse. Somebody probably ripped it by accidently locking it in a car and carrying it off. Accidents of that kind were frequent in the case of new trucks.
The Big Four was speeding along about a mile and a half south of Grant early on May 1, 1908 when they hit an obstruction, thought to be a freight car door. Spikes and a few damaged ties were damaged, the ties causing damage to a brake connection on the baggage car and an air pipe on one of the coaches. The next day, Wm. Ropp fell from a moving freight.
The Pennsylvania limited train instantly killed Claud Swanson at Kirby the evening of August 13, 1908 by striking him in the back. He was from North Baltimore and was working about two miles north of Kirby with John Corneally. He and two companions were walking to Kirby and did not see the flyer coming because of a freight train which was moving west.
About three o'clock in the morning on November 20, 1908, L.A. Conklin, of Forest, was awakened by the ringing of a telephone bell. Frank Lee, of Patterson, told him that a car of hay which Lafayette Woodard was loading for him was afire and burning up. Conklin immediately drove to Patterson and found the car and hay to be a complete loss. It made a very hot fire and warmed up the freight house which was not over twenty-five fee away. Dozens of people were compelled to throw water on it to keep it from burning. There was no wind and nothing else burned. It was supposed that a spark fron the engine of a fast southbound Big Four freight set the hay on fire. Conklin assessed the loss at $75.
The No. 2 train on the Toledo & Pittsburg division of the Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad east bound was derailed at the Burbank switch near Lodi causing six cars to go into a ditch with one passenger injured.
One problem with traveling on the railroads, either Big Four or Pennsylvania were the Time Card Boards. Mentioning trains going "east" and "west" got transients to ask about the direction the trains they desired to take. The Big Four board seemed to be the one most to blame. Its train did not go directly "north" or "south." They in fact went nearer in direction to "east" and "west." By March, 1909 something needed to be done about it. The editor of the paper was calling for the fix to be made soon.
J.W. Caskey was a well liked and popular passenger conductor on the Big Four railroad. He didn't live in Forest, but went to consult with a physician about problems which he'