Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County


From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County

THE FIRST RAILROAD

During the session of the Ohio Legislature of 1849-50, the member from this senatorial district, Mr. Linton, introduced a bill which authorized the granting of a charter for a railroad, to be constructed from Zanesville to Cincinnati, via Wilmington. The member of the house from Fayette requested that the name of Washington Court House be included in the charter, but this the gentleman from Wilmington refused to do. The Washingtonians became indignant, and employed Judge Daniel McLean to go to Columbus to work up their interest, who eventually succeeded in effecting the desired change. The company was organized, and Judge McLean elected one of the directors. The county commissioners were importuned to issue one hundred thousand dollars in bonds, and took action on the matter, as follows

"Washington, Saturday, July 12, 1851.

"On this day the commissioners met. Present—Isaac L. Cook, Jacob A. Kaukin, and Robert Eyre.

"And upon examining the act of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, passed March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act to authorize the commissioners of Fayette County to subscribe to the capital stock of the Cincinnati, Wilmington and Zanesville Railroad Company,' and being fully satisfied that the preliminaries required by said law, in order to the taking of said stock by said commissioners had all been fully complied with, they thereupon did proceed, for and in behalf of said county, to subscribe to said capital stock of said railroad company the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, in all respects as by said act they are authorized and required to do, as by their subscription upon the books of said company, this day made, will fully and at large appear."

A question arose as to whether bonds could be issued on a railroad before it was constructed, and the commissioners of Clinton County refused to sign the bonds. Meanwhile the contractor, Mr, DeGraff, demanded some assurance that the money would be forthcoming at the proper time, before he would begin operations. He was fully assured on that point, and in the fall of 1852 the road was completed from Zanesville to Morrowtown. Judge McLean took a number of trips to the East and purchased iron, which had been manufactured at Sweden. The terminus of the road being Morrow instead of Cincinnati, the earnings were insufficient to meet the expense. The road went through various hands, and is at present operated and controlled by the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad Company.

Several railroads have been projected through the county, and at this writing three are in running order. A number of years ago the construction of a road from Dayton to Belpre was agitated, and the line surveyed through this county. Bonds for money to assist in the work were issued by the commissioners, and a number of people subscribed- liberally to the general fund. The grading was nearing completion, when, for reasons known best by those interested, the project was abandoned.

In 1874, Dayton capitalists conceived the idea of building a road from that enterprising city to the coal fields of southern Ohio. Great interest was taken in the matter, work was begun and hurried to completion, and, in spite of financial embarrassments, the desired end was reached in the year 1879. The road was constructed as a narrow-gauge, and did an immense business on and after its completion to the coal fields. In the spring of 1881, it was purchased by the Toledo, Delphos and Burlington Railroad Company, who have connected the same with their extensive narrow-gauge system through Ohio and Indiana, and will extend the Southeastern Division (lately Dayton and Southeastern Railroad) to the Ohio River.

In the meantime, Springfield capitalists determined to construct a narrow-gauge to Pomeroy, Ohio. Work was commenced, and in 1875 the road was finished to Jackson. It was originally named the Springfield, Jackson and Pomeroy Railroad, but was sold on a foreclosure of mortgages, in 1879, to a Springfield syndicate, who re-christened it the "Springfield Southern." This management changed the track to a standard gauge, and operated it till the spring of 1881, when the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railroad Company purchased the franchise, and changed the name to Ohio Southern Railroad.