The Richland County – Shelby Chapter
Of The Ohio Genealogical Society

- - - Shelby Interurban - - -

 
In 1901, the street car line of the Citizen's Electric Light & Power Co. of
Mansfield, Ohio started the construction of an interurban rail line to Shelby.
It was located along the west side of the existing Baltimore & Ohio railroad.
It passed through Spring Mill and continued northwest on to Shelby.
Entering the south edge of Shelby, the line continued along the west side
of the B & O railroad until reaching Tucker Ave. where it turned to follow
High School Ave. and then on along the Blackfork to 14 Mohican Ave
where the station was located.
 
By 1907, after financial difficulties and several owners, this line was
eventually purchased by the Cleveland Southwestern Co.
 

 
A rail route between Norwalk and Plymouth was established in 1903/04.
A branch was completed from New Haven to Willard and one was planned to
continue from Plymouth to Shelby. Before this branch was finished, the
company ran out of money and it wasn't until 1904/5 that the line
was completed to Shelby.
 
 
Post Card courtesy of the Shelby Museum
 
Interurban Post Card - Norwalk & Shelby Car # 1
 

 
By 1907, there were cars running the route extending from Norwalk through
Shelby to Mansfield. The schedules and fares of the runs were published in the
Shelby Globe. After another change of ownership the line was succeeded
by the Sandusky, Norwalk, and Mansfield Railway. Efforts were made
to allow cars of one line to run directly on both rail lines, thereby
eliminating wait overs to change from one line to another.
 
 
 
photo ca. 1911 - courtesy of Phyllis Frazee
Sandusky, Norwalk, and Mansfield, Station in New Haven, Ohio
(The building in the photo is on the east side of Rt. 61, a few blocks north of Rt. 224)
 
 
In 1909, a Mansfield passenger could ride the interurban car to Shelby on the
Mansfield to Shelby branch of the Cleveland, Columbus, & Southwestern
and then wait about 1/2 hour until a car from the S, N, & M line would arrive.
Upon reaching Norwalk, the passenger could continue on to Sandusky
only by using a connection with the LakeShore main line running
between Toledo and Cleveland.
 

 
To this date, the cars used by the rail lines were all electric powered and took
the power off of an overhead line in the manner of a trolley car. The line north
of Shelby was powered by a electric generating station in North Fairfield, which
is located due south of Norwalk at the point where the rail line turned and ran
due west for a short distance before continuing south to New Haven.
 
As the rail lines expanded and the number of cars increased, the power
requirements grew and these smaller generating stations could not supply
sufficient power for the lines. The Southwestern Co. generators supplied
power to many smaller rail lines until they ran up bills so large they could
not pay. At this point the smaller company must sell or acquire financing
from another source. Many of the changes of ownership were due to
factors such as these.
 
The peak years for the interurban service were those just prior to and including
the WW I years. After WW I, the interurban railways began to get increasing
competition from automobiles, buses, and trucks. The profitability of the
rail lines began to drop and services were reduced. The lines servicing
Shelby went into receivership several times during the years from 1912 to
the beginning of WW I. The power bills were the cause of major concern.
Finally in 1921 the Southwestern Co. turned off the power to the
S N & M railway. The service was shut down for about 6 months until two
gasoline powered cars were purchased from the American Railway Motor Co.
in Elyria for use on the line.
 
On December 22, 1922 the first gasoline car left Norwalk for the trip over
the line through Shelby to Mansfield. The cars were 35 feet long and could
carry 40 people at a top speed of 40 mph. The engine generated electricity
for lighting purposes, interior and exterior, had airbrakes, air whistle,
sanders and all the modern improvements.1
 
These cars were readily accepted by passengers, but more people were using
other means of transportation and ridership continued to decrease as the years
passed. The year 1934 was the end of the interurban era for the Shelby area....
 
 

1 This paragraph abstracted from a Daily Globe article dated Dec. 22, 1922

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Copyright © 2000, 2001 Richland County - Shelby Chapter of The Ohio Genealogy Society