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Picture this: 1,200 residents take a train excursion to Detroit from Bluffton in 1899

Passenger train passing through Bluffton from Findlay around 1920

Vacation plans in order?

That question asked by two earlier generations of Bluffton residents quite possibly meant a railroad trip, beginning and ending in Bluffton.

An earlier story posted on Bluffton Forever tells of residents taking the train to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Click here for that story.

Sometimes the entire community took the train. Here are two examples of summer excursions involving community members riding the Lake Erie and Western Railroad (today Norfolk Southern) from Bluffton. The first is from early 1920. The second from 1899.

These stories contain several "wows."

Wows include the number of persons who purchase tickets and the number of passenger cars required for these trips. Another “wow” reveals each of these excursion trains boarded passengers and brought them home to Bluffton on the same day. The depot was on Railroad Street. It is now located at the Buckeye quarry park.

Concerning the 1920s excursion, imagine for a moment if in 2022 Bluffton could schedule a passenger trip directly from Bluffton to Cedar Point – leaving in the morning and returning in the evening. It will never happen today, but 100 years ago, it was the way to travel.

The 1920 story from the Bluffton News follows:

Off in Morning

On Lake Outing

Town to declare holiday for

Excursion to Cedar Point

This Thursday

Crowd of more than 600 is

Anticipated; train leaves

At 7 O’clock

When liberal portions of fried chicken and other accessories of a picnic dinner carefully stowed away in lunch boxes, municipal Bluffton will enjoy a day’s outing at Cedar Point this Thursday.

The excursion train will leave Bluffton at 7 o’clock in the morning. With the advance tickets sales making a favorable showing, arrangements have been made to accommodate a crowd of more than 600 people. Ample train accommodations have been assured members of the local committee by representatives of the railroad.

The excursion will require eight passenger cars.

The clipping below tells about an additional

excursion planned in 1899 from Bluffton

And this story from 1899

Note: This story has unanswered questions from persons reading it 123 years after the fact.

First, it appears that the train left Bluffton, went to Lima, where it picked up two more cars, and then returned to Bluffton and on to Detroit. That doesn’t really make sense.

Second, the story includes a reference that some passengers continued on to Canada, although it doesn’t provide details. What was involved with persons going to Canada on this excursion?

The August, 1899, story from the Bluffton News follows:

The annual union Sunday School excursion to Detroit last Thursday was the largest ever taken out of Bluffton.

The crowd being nearly double that of last year. Eleven hundred and fifty tickets were sold and there were more than enough children who went free to swell the number to 1,200. This made too large a crowd for the seating capacity, 13 coaches, but two extra coaches were added at Lima and the rest of the trip was made with more comfort.


Pandora and Col. Grove each furnished large contingents to the crowd.

Prof. Biery ran a race of 100 yards in the morning to catch the train which he succeeded in doing.

Several who visited Canada had experiences of varying degrees of interest with the custom officers on account of sundry purchases they made.

Miss Blanche Greding had her hand caught in a car door coming home and a couple of fingers were badly mashed. Dr. Sutter bandaged the injured member and after arriving home he r-dressed it and removed two finger nails.

The graphic above shows that the railroad through Bluffton goes directly to Cedar Point in Sandusky.

Bluffton's Lake Erie and Western passenger depot. This building is now located at Buckeye park.This is where all excursion trains stopped for Bluffton travelers. Imagine 1,200 people waiting to board a 13-car train in 1899.


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