HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY
CINCINNATI, WILMINGTON AND ZANESVILLE RAILROAD.---The General Assembly of 1850-51, enacted a law chartering the Cincinnati, Wilmington and Zanesville Railroad Co., which proposed to construct a road from Morrow, in Warren county, on the Little Miami Railroad, through the counties of Clinton, Fayette, Pickaway, Fairfield, Perry and Muskingum to Zanesville. The counties through which the road was to be made, were authorized to take a certain amount of stock in the enterprise, provided a majority of the people favored the measure and would so vote at a specified general election. All of them except Perry did, in fact, vote and subscribe stock; and it would doubtless have done likewise, had there been anything like agreement as to the route through the county. There was great diversity of opinion, and a majority of the people voted in opposition to the measure of subscribing stock as a county. A large minority voted in favor of stock, leaving the directors to select the route afterward; but a majority could not be obtained under these circumstances. The friends of the two principal routes, which were the New Lexington or Rush Creek Valley, and the Somerset route, each raised about one hundred thousand dollars, conditioned that the road be made on a specified line. The Board of Directors had various meetings to consider the matter, but they appeared to hesitate, or were reluctant to decide; and it was not until September, 1852, that they, at a regular meeting at Zanesville, Ohio, formally decided to locate on the New Lexington or Rush Creek Valley route. Thus was at last settled a question upon which no little time, labor and money had been expended by a large number of persons in Perry county. Work was commenced on the road in the spring of 1853, and was prosecuted throughout that season with considerable vigor and energy, after the manner of railroad building in those days; but it was not until the summer of 1854, that the cars first reached New Lexington from the west. There was for several months a transfer of passengers and mail at this place, from car to stages, which run temporarily between here and Zanesville. But it was not long until the tunnel, three miles east of New Lexington, was done and the east end of the road completed, since which time the cars have run regularly between Zanesville and Morrow, the entire length of the line. The road passed out of the hands of the original stockholders long ago, and has been under various management; but it was never so well equipped, as well managed, nor did so much business as since it became a part of the Pan Handle system.
The completion and opening of a railroad was quite an event in those days, and thousands of persons, men, women and children, gathered to see the first train come in. Excursions for several years along the line were very frequent; the people of the flat counties along the western part of the line, would come up into the rolling hills of Perry, and the people of Perry and eastern Muskingum would go down to the plains of Pickaway and Fayette. The novelty of this in time passed away, and the people learned to look upon the railroad and all its advantages, as one of the common, every-day things of life.
A MUSKINGUM VALLEY DEPOTSCIOTO AND HOCKING VALLEY RAILROAD.---The old Scioto and Hocking Valley was chartered by an enactment which became a law in the winter of 1849, Newark and Portsmouth being given as the terminal points, and certain counties named, through which the road was to pass. Perry county was not named, or included in this original charter; but at the legislative session of 1850-51, the law was so amended as to authorize the location of the road through Perry, Hocking and certain other counties named, provided the directors of the company thought it best to do so. In December, 1852, a certificate was filed with the Auditor of State, increasing the capital stock of the company already organized, one million dollars, making the capital three millions. The final location of the road was determined by a meeting of the directors held at Portsmouth in the winter or spring of 1853, and the route through Perry, instead of Fairfield or Pickaway, was adopted. The Fairfield county interests were very strongly pressed; but the Perry county men, backed
by the great coal deposits, carried the day and went home triumphant. Eli A. Spencer, then a citizen of Somerset, being present at Portsmouth, telegraphed the news of the location to Somerset in this characteristic and pithy manner: “T.B.Cox, Jr.: “Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad located on the Perry county route. God and Liberty. E. A. SPENCER.” The people of Somerset and vicinity were much elated at securing the location of the Scioto and Hocking Valley. There was an impromptu but great celebration in honor of the event, which lasted nearly all night. Immense bonfires were made, tar barrels burned, speeches delivered, songs sung, and every demonstration of joy was made. The result was scarcely expected, and when assured was almost overwhelming. The people of the northern and western parts of the county went to work, without delay, to obtain stock subscriptions: and there was subscribed along the line in Perry county, the sum of about one hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars; of this sum about one hundred and seventy-two thousand was expended upon the road before the work ceased. That part of the line between Portsmouth and Jackson C. H., was completed in 1852, or early in 1853, and the part of the line between Jackson C. H. and Newark, the northern terminus of the road, a distance of ninety miles, and which had been surveyed and located by J. W. Webb, chief engineer, was now let to Seymour, Moore & Company. This firm consisted of Thomas Seymour, late Chief Engineer of the State of New York, a practical railroader, engineer and builder; James Moore of Pennsylvania, who was also an experienced railroad man, and George A. French of Dunkirk, New York. This firm sublet the entire line. Ward and Taylor of New York State, took the tunnel contract near Middletown, and began work upon the same about the first of April. 1853; Fink and Dittoe of Somerset, took three miles of the line to build, including the deep cut at Somerset. This firm consisted of Adam Fink and Henry Dittoe. They broke ground on their contract in February, 1853, and worked a large force of men and horses for six or eight months, when they were compelled to cease by reason of financial embarrassments. Fink and Dittoe sublet their northern section to John Sheridan, father of Gen. P. H. Sheridan. This section was finished by Mr. Sheridan. The next eight miles north were taken by W. S. French & Co. This firm consisted of Walter S. French of Dunkirk, New York, and T. Spencer Stillman of Wethersfield, Conn. They commenced work in April. 1853, and employed on an average about one hundred and sixty men and horses, and completed and turned over their part of the line in May. 1854. A. H. Mills of the State of New York, and Samuel Aiken of Pennsylvania, had about three sections of this light work in the county, which they completed. James McArdle, late of New Lexington, had a section or two in the neighborhood of Thornville. The names of a few other sub-contractors are not remembered. In the fall of 1853, and before the work on the cut at Somerset and the tunnel at Middletown was anything like completed, Seymour, Moore & Co. became greatly embarrassed. They were unable to
sell their bonds, and failed to pay their sub-contractors on their estimates of work. Some of the sub-contractors suspended work in 1853, others having more faith worked on until 1854; but one by one they succumbed, until W. S. French & Co., who had taken a new contract in Vinton county, were the only ones at work along the line, and they were dependent upon local subscriptions, where they were at work. Seymour, Moore & Co. did everything in their power to retrieve their fortunes and pay their sub-contractors; they negotiated a purchase of iron sufficient to lay the track of twelve miles between Jackson C. H. and Hamden, the latter being on the Cincinnati and Marietta railroad. It was confidently hoped, that by building this extension of twelve miles, and forming a junction with the Cincinnati and Marietta railroad, that new credit would be secured, and that the bonds of the company would sell at a fair price; but these hopes were not realized. With the failure of Seymour, Moore & Co., the Scioto and Hocking Valley Company broke down and were unable to pay the interest on bonds outstanding, and other liabilities. In 1857 the mortgagees filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Perry county, praying for a foreclosure, which was finally accomplished in 1864., J. W. Webb being special Master Commissioner in the sale of the road, and the trustees of Arcade Bank at Providence, Rhode Island, became the purchasers at the sum of four hundred and eleven thousand dollars. The purchasers at this judicial sale, subsequently sold all of the line between Portsmouth and the track of the Cincinnati and Zanesville road in Perry county, to the Cincinnati and Marietta Railroad Company. It is believed that the Arcade Bank would have sold the whole line to the Cincinnati and Marietta Company, had it not been for the special efforts and influence of J. W. Webb, who hoped to secure some future benefit to the original stock subscribers on the northern end of the line. That part of the line reserved by the trustees of the Arcade Bank, was held by them until December, 1869, when it was sold to the Newark, Somerset and Straitsville Railroad Company. It must not be supposed that the Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad Company did not, between the years 1854 and 1861, make strenuous efforts to revive their credit and push on the road to completion. They made many efforts, both in this country and Europe, and were on the very point of succeeding through London, England, capitalists, when the country became involved in the great civil war, which suddenly closed all negotiations. An agent of London capitalists had been sent over here to investigate the road property and general conditions, and he made a highly favorable report; but it all went for nought when Fort Sumter was fired upon, large contending armies raised, and Great Britain acknowledged the Confederate States as a belligerent power. NEWARK, SOMERSET AND STRAITSVILLE RAILROAD.---This company was incorporated in 1869, and having purchased so much of the road-bed of the old Scioto and Hocking Valley as lay between Newark and the line of the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad, proceeded to business in a short time for the construction of the new road. Work was begun in a small way, upon the northern end of the line in
1870, but it was not until the spring of 1871 that work was commenced on the deep cut in Somerset, the most difficult part along the route. Meanwhile the road had been leased to the Baltimore and Ohio for a period of twenty years, and the task of its completion was henceforth pushed with all the energy that capital and skill could command. Work upon the deep cut at Somerset and the tunnel near Bristol went on uninterruptedly during the fall of 1871, and the winter of 1871-72, and in the latter year the whole line was completed to the town of Shawnee, the southern terminus of the road. In making the new road, the old road-bed of the Scioto and Hocking Valley was used from Newark to a point a mile or two north of the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad, whence the new road turned abruptly to the east, running almost parallel with the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley track, crossing the same at Wolf Station, (now the town of Junction City,) then running up a water-course to the tunnel, near Bristol, and through it over on to the head-waters of Monday Creek, and up Shawnee Run to Shawnee, where the road terminates. The building of this road was instrumental, either wholly or in great part in the making of the new towns of Glenford, Junction City, Dicksonton, McCuneville and Shawnee. The road has had a large coal carrying trade ever since its construction, and its passenger business has not been inconsiderable. The sequel proved that J. W. Webb, Esq., was right in his prognostications. Though the stock subscriptions paid to the old Scioto and Hocking Valley company were irrevocably lost, the road-bed resulted in serving as a basis for the Newark, Somerset and Straitsville, and brought a railroad to the people of Thorn, Hopewell and Reading townships, which they might not otherwise have secured, and certainly not on such favorable terms. STRAITSVILLE BRANCH OF THE HOCKING VALLEY.---This is a railway about twelve miles in length, reaching from Old Straitsville and New Straitsville in Perry county to Logan in Hocking county, where it intersects the main line of the Hocking Valley. This branch road was the result of large investments in mineral lands, by several companies, in the neighborhood of Old Straitsville---New Straitsville not being in existense at that time. The Railroad Company was incorporated in 1869, and the road constructed and cars running in 1870. It is one of the most important twelve miles of coal road in the whole country. The output of coal from New Straitsville has been the largest from any one point tributary to the Hocking Valley Railroad, and the passenger and other freight traffic of the road has been very considerable. One effect of this road has been to build up the new and large town of New Straitsville, and to more than quadruple the population of Old Straitsville. ATLANTIC AND LAKE ERIE.---When capitalists began to invest their money in the coal regions of Straitsville and Shawnee, a number of enterprising and public spirited citizens of New Lexington, who knew something of the geology of the coal measures, and also enlightened by several openings in the “great vein” on the waters of Sunday Creek,
came to the conclusion that the great seam reached its greatest maximum in the Sunday Creek Valley, and lay in a solid block under the valleys as well as the hills, and must, therefore, be equal to, if not superior, to any other coal section of the country. These wonderful coal deposits could be of no great use or value without a railroad to reach them, and how to accomplish this indispensable object was the next question. Both a northern and southern outlet was highly desirable, it not absolutely essential. Hence a railroad map of the State was examined, and it was discovered that there was a section of country from Toledo to Pomeroy, not already supplied with railroads, to any great extent, through which a through line might be built, taking in New Lexington and the great Sunday Creek Valley coal region on its way. Hence the origin of the Atlantic and Lake Erie Company. The company was duly organized and incorporated in 1869, and the towns and country all along the line of the proposed road thoroughly stirred up upon the subject. Stock books were opened everywhere, and two or three corps of surveyors set to work to explore and locate the line. Stock was subscribed liberally, almost all along the line. The installments necessary to complete the surveys and for other preliminary purposes, were collected and disbursed, and everything appeared to go on swimmingly. The first line surveyed from New Lexington north, was through the townships of Clayton and Madison, of Perry county, and by way of Brownsville, Licking county, to Newark; but there were some heavy grades on this route, stock subscriptions did not come in very satisfactorily, and the city of Newark, especially appeared very lukewarm as to the success of the great enterprise. Consequently, the surveyors were put upon the line by the way of Bremen, Rushville, Pleasantville, Millersport and Hebron, which left Newark off the line of the road. It has been stated, and probably with a good foundation, that this demonstration was at first intended as a feint; but the people of the eastern part of Fairfield county received the explorers and surveyors so cordially, and went to work so promptly and raised such liberal amounts of stock that, together with a favorable report of the surveyors as to this route, converted the feint into a reality, and secured the great thoroughfare on this line. Had the road been located and made on the first route surveyed, it would have accommodated a greater portion of the people of Perry county, and the change of line, which circumstances seemed to render imperative, was regretted at the time by the projectors of the road and nearly all of its friends in this county; but the directory builded wiser than they knew, for the new line made a good outlet for coal to Columbus, which the first proposed line did not, and it was the easy and desirable Columbus outlet that first resurrected the road after its unfortunate collapse in 1877-78. Had the road-bed of the Atlantic and Lake Erie been made on the first surveyed route from New Lexington north, it is possible that the subsequent history and condition of the road might have been very different from what it now is. The line was more costly through Perry county than any where else, and the private subscriptions were altogether inadequate to the expense that must necessarily be incurred. To meet this difficulty a number of Coal or Mining companies, so called, had been organized and their
stock placed upon the market. Among them were “The Great Vein Company,” “The Sunday Creek Valley Company, “The Hurd Company,” and various other ones. These companies subscribed heavily to the stock of the Railroad Company, and as fast as stock was sold, a large proportion of the money thus obtained was paid to the Railroad Company, and expended upon the tunnels that had to be made in order to reach the great vein region. Ground was “broke” upon the Atlantic and Lake Erie line at New Lexington, June 22d, 1870. The day was one of great pomp and magnificence. A large meeting was held in Kelley's Grove, at a point now within the corporate limits. Speeches were made by Charles Follett, of Newark, Ohio; D. B. Swigart, of Bucyrus; Darius Talmadge, of Lancaster, and by various other gentlemen. Thomas Ewing, Sr., who had ‘intended to be present and speak, but was unable to attend, sent a carefully written address; which was read at the meeting. The meeting was extraordinarily large, and its proceedings were telegraphed to leading newspapers in all parts of the country. The ceremony of “breaking, ground” took place precisely where the track is now laid, a few rods north of Water street. A few weeks later, work was commenced upon the tunnel, one and a half miles southeast of New Lexington; and a little later upon the one at Carter's Summit, near Oakfield; but money was not very abundant, and the work proceeded slowly. Work progressed all along the line from Perry county to Toledo, during the years of , 1871-72 and 1873, and when the great financial panic struck the country, the road-bed was nearly completed from the tunnel near New Lexington to the northern terminus of the road. Had not the financial revulsion come just when it did, the bonds of the road could doubtless have been sold at a fair price, and it could have been finished and equipped by its original owners. As it was, strong efforts were made, and iron bought and laid on a portion of the road, but all of no avail. The name of the road had meanwhile been changed to The Ohio Central, but neither this nor the new management to which the stockholders entrusted its fortunes, made any perceptible change for the better. The company had one old wheezy engine and one car, which plied between New Lexington and Moxahala, to which latter place the road had been finished in 1874---irregularly in the years 1875-76 and 77, but at last gave it up altogether, and the old engine was thrown off the track near the tunnel, where it lay for a long time, a monument of the former impecuniosity and bad fortunes of the now famous and rich thoroughfare, which will soon reach from the Ohio river to the Lakes, pasting nearly through the center of this great State. The track had been laid by the old Ohio Central Company, from the crossing of the Baltimore and Ohio, west of Newark, to Moxahala, but only that part between the latter place and New Lexington, had been put to use, and that, with very insufficient equipments, as stated above. The company could not go on with the work, could not dispose of its bonds, could not meet its outstanding liabilities, and, in March, 1878, the entire property, franchises and privileges of the road, from Toledo to Pomeroy, were sold at Judicial sale, and thus passed out of
the hands of the original stockholders forever, property upon which over two millions of dollars had been expended. Parties from the East became the purchasers, who sold so much of the road as lies between Granville, Licking county, and Chauncey, in Athens county, to a syndicate, who organized a company for the construction of a road from Columbus to the Sunday Creek Valley, intersecting the Ohio Central Line, at Bush's Station, Fairfield county. COLUMBUS AND SUNDAY CREEK VALLEY.---This company, in the course of a few months, put the line under contract, and, in the latter part of 1878, or January ‘79, the contractors got to work. The principal job was the tunnel, at Carter's Summit, near Oakfield. This tunnel is almost sixteen hundred feet long. Early in 1880, the tunnel and whole line was finished, and the cars running from Columbus to Corning. The company or syndicate, about this time decided to complete the entire line from Bush's station north to Toledo, and changed the name of the road and cars to The Ohio Central. OHIO CENTRAL.---It is understood that the organization of this new company included new men, and heavy capitalists of the East, in addition to those who had been interested in the Columbus and Sunday Creek Valley. Work was pushed vigorously along the northern end of the line, and early in 1881 the cars were running between Corning and Toledo, as well as between Corning and Columbus, intersecting at Bush's Station, now Hadley Junction, in Fairfield county. In the fall of 1880, an extension of the Ohio Central, from Corning, in Perry, to near Oxford, in Athens county, was begun, and also a switch, diverging from the main line, six or eight miles in length, up the west branch of Sunday Creek, to Buckingham and Hemlock, which extension and switch are both finished, and the cars are running over them. The company has also commenced work upon the southern end of the road, between Oxford, in Athens county, and Pomeroy, in Meigs county, on the Ohio River, and this extension will be finished during the year 1882, and the cars running regularly between Toledo and Pomeroy. The Ohio Central Railroad and its predecessors, have made the towns of Corning, Moxahala, Rendville, Hemlock and Buckingham, and developed an immense coal trade, in the “Great Vein” Region. The road now ships about three hundred cars daily, and it expects to ship six hundred or more per day, when more shafts are sunk, and more mines opened, and a greater number of coal cars, and the requisite additional rolling stock added. The passenger traffic is good now, and will be greatly augmented, when the road is completed through to the Ohio River, and connection made with the southern system of roads, to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, which will surely be done. The Atlantic and Lake Erie, the forerunner of the Ohio Central, was organized and set on foot by men residing at New Lexington, Perry county, Ohio. They, of course, sought the counsel and aid of men all along the line of the proposed road, and in the organization and management of the several mining companies, without the aid of which the road could have made no progress, they solicited and secured the
cooperation of men residing in various parts of the country. Whatever may be the future success and gigantic operations of this great railroad, it is but simple justice to state in this volume, and let the fact pass down to future generations, that the road had its origin in the minds of New Lexington men, and was pushed by them with unusual energy, in the direction of final and. complete success, until crushed by the great financial revulsion of 1873, which ruined so many enterprises, and crushed so many people. The Ohio Central now proposes an extension of a branch line from Rendville or Corning, through Bearfield township, to McConnellsville, Morgan county. There is also a projected line of railroad from Bremen, Fairfield county, by the way of Maxville, Perry County, to Chauncey, Athens county, to be called the Monday Creek Valley. The Cleveland, Connotton Valley and Straitsville Railway Company, also proposes a line from McLuney, or Crooksville, Perry county, on the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley, by way of Moxahala, crossing the Ohio Central here, to Straitsville, or elsewhere in the “Great Vein’’ region. A road is also talked of to come by way of Uniontown, Muskingum county, and Saltillo Rehoboth and New Lexington, in Perry County, to intersect the “Great Vein” Coal region, at some point between the Ohio Central and the Newark, Somerset and Shawnee roads. It is also thought that a road will be made from Thornport or Glenford in Perry county, by way of Mount Perry and Uniontown, to intersect the Cincinnati, and Muskingum Valley, at or near Roseville. There is also the proposed Bellaire, Shawnee and Cincinnati Railway, which is designed to pass through the “Great Vein” coal section of Perry county. New Straitsville, Shawnee and Corning, are all sure to be in some way united by rail, and other roads, now unthought and undreamed of, will doubtless make their appearance sometime in the swiftly coming years. The very desirable and highly valuable coal deposits in Clayton township, are sure to eventually bring a new road, and the limestone of Hopewell, Madison, Reading and Clayton, will be in good demand in the not distant future. Short lines and switches too numerous to be conjectured, must inevitably be made, as they are gradually demanded, to reach after the iron ores and coal, situated more or less remote from the main lines. This state of things will ultimately make the county, and especially the principal mineral sections thereof, a network of railroads, the like of which exists in but few parts of the world. Since the foregoing was written, the Columbus and Eastern Railway Company, has surveyed a line and placed fifty miles under contract. The surveyed line is by the way of Millersport, Thornport, Glenford, Chalfant, Mount Perry, Uniontown and Saltillo, to Selby’s Pass, a short distance east of New Lexington. Further than that the road has not yet been located. It is also announced on what appears to be good authority, that the Hurd Iron and Coal Company have decided to build, in the next eight months, a railroad from McLuney to Buckingham, passing through the possessions of the Hurd Company.