LIMA — Allen County wouldn’t be what it is today without the advent of rail traffic.
The Allen County Museum held a lecture Sunday about the railroad’s impact on the county with historian Scott Trostel.
Trostel, who lives in Miami County, is the author of 55 books and is currently working on six books. One of them is “The Age of Railroad in Lima.”
Trostel talked about the hardships that went with building the railroad and the advantages of having a railroad on hand for year-round transportation.
“It goes back to 1854 with the construction of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad, which eventually became the Pennsylvania Railroad,” Trostel said. “Then the second (railroad) that was an east-west line to connect Fort Wayne, Indiana, with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, because Chicago was a nothing town. It was Fort Wayne; they were on the canal, and they had other railroads in town, and Lima was just a weigh stop for them.”
The construction of the railroad was a significant development in Allen County’s development.
“Oh, it was tremendously important. You take the name rail-road, it’s a hyphenated word, and it gave them the advantage of not having the canal to freeze and having to go over to Delphos all the time or to Spencerville. They could go north and south from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, east and west from Pittsburgh to Fort Wayne and eventually into Chicago,” Trostel said.
During his research, Trostel found some interesting historical tidbits.
“The fact is that at one time 60% of the employment in Lima was on the railroads or in an allied industry. Probably most of that was driven by Lima’s son, Calvin S. Brice, a U.S. senator,” Trostel said. “Every time they needed a railroad, he would put his money where his mouth was, and he was responsible for bringing the Lake Erie and Louisville (railroad) in and the Chicago and Erie Railroad.”
The advent of the interurban railroad also helped passenger service in the region.
“They built interurban cars here in Lima out on Grand Avenue, North Main Street. You had the Fort Wayne, Van Wert and Lima Railroad, which ran through Delphos and is pretty much parallel to the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Western Ohio (Railroad), which was started by some people up in Cleveland and then went broke,” Trostel said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.