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Bluffton railroad history timeline



Milestones in the life of Bluffton, Ohio, railroads

1833

Joseph DeFord builds cabin on banks of the Riley

Michael Neuenschwander and Charles Dally arrive in the area

1838

DeFord creates plat of Shannon with Main Street following native American trail

1849

Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad connects Carey and Findlay

1853

Beaverdam laid out by Frederick Shull (Shulltown)

1853

Fremont and Indiana Rail Road incorporated to build 120 mile railroad from Fremont to Union City through Bluffton

1854

Ohio and Indiana Railroad (Pennsylvania, Conrail, now Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern RR) comes to Ada and Lima

1855

Platting of Rawson – named after Dr. La Quinio Rawson

1856-57

All construction suspended – Panic of 1857

Jan. 22, 1859

Fremont and Indiana reaches Foster’s store in Rome (Fostoria)

Dec. 26, 1859

Railroad reaches Findlay

Stage coach met train at Findlay and ran to Lima through Bluffton

1861-65 American Civil War

Aug. 17, 1861

Incorporation of Shannon and renaming of town as Bluffton

Oct. 14, 1861 Fremont and Indiana Railroad went bankrupt

Jan. 21, 1862 Rawson, Cory, Carlin and Foster organized the Fremont, Lima and Union RR

1862 Grade completed and crossties laid through Bluffton

$6,107 paid for 24 ton locomotive; L.Q. Rawson ran out of money

Feb. 4, 1865 Lake Erie and Louisville Railroad absorbed Fremont, Lima and Union Railroad

April 4, 1871 Lake Erie and Louisville Railroad declared bankrupt

April 12, 1872 Brice, Foster and Rawson organize new company: Lake Erie & Louisville Ry.

Nov. 22, 1872 Mt. Cory plotted (named after Judge Cory of Findlay)

Dec. 5, 1872 First regular trains run through Bluffton between Findlay and Lima

April 25, 1874 Railroad declared bankrupt in wake of Panic of 1873

Feb. 17, 1877 Reorganized as Lake Erie and Louisville Railroad with Brice and Foster in control, Rawson out

Summer 1878 Lake Erie and Louisville changed to standard gauge: 4 feet, 8 ½ inches

Aug. 4, 1878

Seney Syndicate with Calvin Brice form Lake Erie and Western Railway

Feb. 3, 1881

New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (Nickel Plate Road) born – Cleveland to Chicago

May 22, 1882

Cleveland, Delphos and St. Louis Railroad, narrow gauge from

Delphos to Carey, crosses LE&W at Bluffton Other names:

1885 – Eastern and Western Air Line Railway

1886 – Cleveland and Western Railroad

1890 – Pittsburgh, Akron and Western (converted to standard gauge that year)

1895 – Northern Ohio Railway (Brice’s company)

1920 – Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad

1885 Ben Faurot, railroad promoter: Marietta to Western Michigan; brings in first oil well at Lima

1885 LE&W instituted bankruptcy proceedings

Jan. 20, 1886 Targ well at Findlay vents 20 million cubic feet of natural gas. The oil-gas boom is on

Feb. 9, 1887 With lift from oil and gas boom, Brice and Thomas gain control, reorganized line as Lake Erie and Western Railroad. Next decade most prosperous for LE&W

1887 Findlay, Ft. Wayne, Western (tangent line) built from Findlay through Gilboa. Line ends in 1918

1890 Calvin Brice elected to U.S. Senate

Dec. 15, 1898 Brice dies and with him the dream of a big trunk line

1899 Vanderbilt buy LE&W and operate it as an integral part of the NY Central System

1905 World rail speed record set of over 126 miles per hour east of Ada on Pennsylvania RR

Jan. 10, 1906 Western Ohio Railway, interurban line opens an electric line through Bluffton (Piqua to Findlay)

July 5, 1916 T he Van Sweringen brothers acquire Nickel Plate from NY Central

April 26, 1922 Van Sweringens at financial wall, rescued by J.P. Morgan and Co.

Jan. 16, 1932 Last interurban car passes through Bluffton

1932 Reconstruction Finance Corp. advanced $18 million to NKP in its worst year

Sept. 30, 1935 Mid-America Corp., George Ball of Muncie, Indiana, principal investor,

buys $3 million of Van Sweringen securities

1933-1947 C&O, Pere Marquette and Nickel Plate under joint management

1950 First diesel locomotive appears on the Nickel Plate

July 20, 1951 Last mixed passenger-freight train on AC&Y from Akron through Bluffton to Delphos

1956 Last of the steam locomotives in regular duty to go through Bluffton

Oct. 17, 1959 Last passenger train on the Nickel Plate goes through Bluffton

Oct. 16, 1964 Norfolk and Western and Nickel Plate and Wabash merged

May 1969 NKP 759 pulling Golden Spike Limited passes through Bluffton

1979 AC&Y in pre-abandonment stage

1982 NKP passenger depot moved to Buckeye park and renovated

Dec. 16,1982 Final freight through Bluffton on AC&Y

2014 Bluffton pathway board creates pathway on abandoned AC&Y from County Line toI-75

2021 One local daily freight each way through Bluffton on former NKP


Reprinted from Dec. 28, 1972, Bluffton News commemorating 100 years of railroading in Bluffton

Originally created by Robert Kreider • updated by Fred Steiner in 2021


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