Kevin’s Komments 03/11/2022

Ohio City & Van Wert

I had mentioned a couple projects ago that the club has been considering towns to include in the next version of the Cincinnati Northern Model RR club’s layout. Ohio City is one of those towns. Ohio City is a small village roughly 7.5 miles south of Van Wert. Since Van Wert is the county seat (of Van Wert County, OH), and quite a bit larger than Ohio City, it gets all the attention. Most of the historical sites take you to Van Wert (city or county) and then make mention of Ohio City. So…I ended up with just a few pics of Ohio City, but found a lot to add to our Van Wert collection.

Our main interest in Ohio City is the interchange between three RR lines: the Cincinnati Northern (NYC), the Nickel Plate (former Lake Erie & Western line), and the Erie. The three lines crossed each other at almost the same point – the three sets of diamonds being just several yards from each other. The union station served all three railroads. This is a pic of the station probably in the ‘70s. The double track is the Erie. The single line in the foreground is the Nickel Plate. And, the CNor is the single line that crosses the other two a little closer to the station.

This is a similar pic of the station in 1975. The Erie double line runs by the station with the CNor crossing. The Nickel Plate is not shown in this pic.

This shot is from the other side of the station along the Erie. It shows one of the interchange tracks veering off to the right of the Erie tracks, past the station, and to the Nickel Plate. This pic was also taken in 1975

…And another pic from 1975 centered on the Erie and Union Station.  These pics came from the John F. Bjorklund collection at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art: .

Here’s a pic of NKP #587, a 2-8-2 H-60, crossing the diamond with the CNor on the northwest corner of Union Station, 1952. The northern most Erie track just comes into view in the foreground. This pic shows how close the diamonds are.

This is a 1953 shot of the station from the other side (southeast corner) of the station. Crossing the CNor is a pair of Erie F-units pulling what appears to be a passenger train up to the station. During this era, the crossing tower is integrated into the end of the station. Later, the tower was removed from the station (see previous pics). And I believe earlier than this era, the tower was a separate structure beyond the station. Check out the concrete booth at the corner next to the tower – this likely houses a phone tied directly to the dispatchers office for crew communication.

The three sets of diamonds were just east of Main street – again several yards away. All three lines crossed Main St within a couple town blocks. I can’t tell for sure which crossing this was, but best guess (from the angle) this was the Erie. This pic goes back a ways – Main street appears to be a dirt road. There are no utility poles down Main St, only the one pole along the tracks – possibly a single pole down the road a couple blocks down from the crossing. The street lights appear to be gas lamps. There is a fire hydrant. And, there appears to be a buggy or wagon – and possibly a horse – down the road. Most of the entrances and windows at street level appear to have canvas awnings in a retracted position. There is a windmill (possibly a sign) showing above one of the structures – the windmill is a style generally used to pump water. I’m thinking this is around the turn of the century.

If you mention Ohio City, as small as it is, you have to mention that the first successful automobile was built there.

wait for it…

…And of course, where the first automobile travels, you have the first automobile wreck!

Unfortunately, that’s all I could find on Ohio City. The club has the same or similar pics of the station and crossings – so not much new material. But, I found a few new pics of Van Wert which was the center of the line.

Here’s a modern pic of CF&E (Chicago Ft Wayne & Eastern RR) #3898 crossing the Cincinnati Northern in Van Wert. This would have been the old PRR crossing at the Van Wert station south of the engine facilities and yard. The CNor tracks in this area are still used via the CF&E to service Greif (Continental Can) and a few other industries.

If we go to the same crossing, but look south from the CNor tracks, we see the old PRR line crossing just past Estry Tower.

And just south and on the opposite side from Estry Tower was the Cincinnati Northern station and company headquarters. Unfortunately, this pic was taken after it had shut down and just before it was demolished.

These two photos of the station show it during it’s busy years. In the first pic, you can see Estry Tower beyond the PRR crossing. The second pic gives us an idea of what a fine structure the station was.

In the early days of the railroad, the back section of the station, shown partly in the previous pic, was used as the freight house.  Later, a separate freight house structure was built north of the PRR corssing.

Further north was the engine facilities including the roundhouse, circa 1910.

Here’s CNor – in this era CN – #111, a classic American, on the turntable.

Here’s a pic of the car shop crew in 1896. Note that they refer to them as “Car Whacker’s”. Currently, Dave is acting as the club’s car whacker!

I have used this photo of the Van Wert roundhouse in the past, but I couldn’t find my notes on it. As I remember, all of the roundhouse crew went home for lunch only to return to this scene. Apparently one of the loco boilers blew totally demolishing the roundhouse. Since everyone had left for lunch, no one was injured. Note that CNor # 108 still sits in it’s stall.

This is a famous colorized photo of the roundhouse and shops in Van Wert. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe these are the facilities after the roundhouse was rebuilt.

Moving on to what I think are photos we don’t have in the club collection – I found a great website: .  Most of the next photos come from this website.

This is the Van Wert Auditorium and Opera House. Note the interurban tracks going by in the street. I believe this is Main St. just west of Washington St, or two blocks east of the CNor tracks, about a block south of the station.

Check out the People’s Mill along side the tracks. Looks like a grain mill, but I haven’t been able to place its location – I don’t even know if the tracks are CNor or PRR

This is probably a bit early for our era, but a fun picture – cattle farmers are driving their herd through the streets of Van Wert on the way to the stockyards. I think that’s the interurban tracks down the middle of the road.

Moving around a decade or so later, downtown Van Wert is lit up during twilight. Again, the interurban tracks run down the middle.

This is the interurban station in downtown Van Wert, Main St. The interurban ran from Lima, OH, through Van Wert, to Fort Wayne, IN. I’m not sure how close this was to the CNor tracks, but Main St. crossed the CNor just south of the station, about a block from the PRR crossing. So the interurban probably crossed the CNor just south of the station. I’m not sure when the Interurban was shut down, but it allows for some creative thinking!

…Another great look of Main St. and the interurban & station. Looks roughly 2 maybe close to 3 decades prior to our era.

I wanted to show this gas station as a model for a station on the layout. The station is on Main St.

Going back to the roundhouse, late ‘40s to late ‘50s, here’s some of the roundhouse crew (NYC employees): L-R, George J Gunn, Roundhouse foreman, John Roby, Orley W. Putnam, and Robert A. Thomas.

NYC (CNor) #6390, probably a class H-6a Mikado, runs past Estry tower in 1954. #6930 is another of those NYC numbering conundrums I’ve run in to. It fits the numbering scheme, but #6390 is not listed on the CNor roster. I’ll have to check to see if it was a borrowed NYC loco.

NYC (CNor) #6390, probably a class H-6a Mikado, runs past Estry tower in 1954. #6930 is another of those NYC numbering conundrums I’ve run in to. It fits the numbering scheme, but #6390 is not listed on the CNor roster. I’ll have to check to see if it was a borrowed NYC loco.

This PRR Consolidation is near the station and freight house – couldn’t find much more info on it.

The aerial view gives us a better idea of the locations. I think the view is east. The PRR station is on the right. The PRR freight house is on the left of the tracks. The curved track with a number of boxcars is next to the Railway Express depot. Town creek would be a block closer than the foreground, and the CNor would be about 3 blocks closer than the foreground.

I threw this pic in because it’s another interesting pic for our club – It’s labeled as the CNor Depot (CN in this era) and tower at Cecil, OH. The double track going by the station is the Wabash. The American loco is pulling a passenger train south on the CNor. Check out the grain elevator in the background.

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