History of Transportation in Columbiana County, OH

From: History of Columbiana County, Ohio
By: Harold B. Barth
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1926


Transportation facilities in Columbiana County has run the gamut from stage coach, flatboat and horse packet to automobiles, railroads, trolley cars and huge motor trucks. Ever has the evolution in traveling and freighting necessities kept pace with modern developments in all other lines within its confines.

Until 1809 following a decade of settlement, mails reached its residents at irregular intervals Then was installed a weekly horseback service to New Lisbon, the county seat, from Pittsburg, Pa., John Depue, at the outset and afterwards Horace Daniels were the pioneer carriers. They utilized two horses, riding the one and driving the other in advance with the mail bags strapped upon it. Entrance into the town was spectacular as, nearing it, he would sound his horn which was a signal for right of way from all vehicles and travelers for the government business which thus was represented.

In New Lisbon the first postoffice was established in 1809, that at Salem in 1807, East Liverpool in 1810, but only to temporarily discontinued two years later and at Wellsville in 1816. For a long period Pottery City residents had to go to Wellsville, Little Beaver Bridge and Calcutta for their mails.

Through Georgetown and Smith's Ferry, Pa., the great throughfare from Western Pennsylvania passed in those early days. In 1821 it was proposed to build a free pike highway from Cleveland to the Ohio River. This was completed two years later and Wellsville won the Columbiana County objective over East Liverpool. On it thereafter was operated the initial stage coach line. Some startling equipages were noted on occasions in these new lines, four and even six horses being utilized. By 1829 regular lines passing through New Lisbon from Pittsburg to Wooster, Ohio, were being operated, the start being made at the Smoky City at 3 o'clock A. M., on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and reaching the county seat four hours later from where on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 3 o'clock the journey was resumed for the Wayne County hamlet which was reached at 7 o'clock on the same evenings.

Then followed carriage use from New Lisbon to Wellsville with hacks for Wheeling, W. Va., and Steubenville, O., for those who did not want to go by steamboat which soon came into much favor. The early great stage lines, touching points in or near Columbiana County were those from Ashtabula to Wheeling, W. Va.; Beaver, Pa., to Lower Sandusky, O., and Beaver, Pa., to Cleveland.

In 1830 another great highway was partially projected. The road was built from New Lisbon to the river and by Samuel E. Marks, a Virginia citizen, from the Ohio to the Pennsylvania state line. But the remaining distance through Washington, Pa., to Pittsburg was never completed.

In 1830 mail was carried from Wellsville to East Liverpool at the expense of certain citizens in the latter place where John Collins became postmaster. He was followed by William G. Smith who had "East" prefixed to the city's name.

Barges, propelled by poles, were first used as freight carriers on the Ohio River. They were 75 to 100 feet in length usually and with a sail attached had a 60 to 100 tons capacity.

The Orleans, 400 tons, built by Robert Fulton, was the first steamboat to ply the upper Ohio in 1811. Its cost exceeded $50,000. However, it did not have sufficient power to return up stream from New Orleans and was destroyed in 1814 at Baton Rouge when it struck a snag.

The "Enterprise" in 1814, reached New Orleans in time to engage in the famous battle of Jan. 8, 1815, which Gen. Andrew Jackson won and returned the same year to Pittsburg. Its arrival in Wellsville caused a great demonstration since it was not believed the feat could be accomplished.

Then followed a period in which nearly every town on the river had boats built by some of its residents. By 1832 a total of 198 steamers were in operation, 348 having been constructed. Much trading with great resultant hardship during cold weather then followed. Despite all this prosperity came to the river towns in these halcyon days. Wellsville became the chief port between Pittsburg, Pa., and Steubenville. As many as 150 teams frequently arrived daily in it to discharge freight for water points.

The Sandy and Beaver Canal was the next ambitious project of Columbiana transportation history. The company of that name was incorporated on March 9, 1830, but work on it was not begun until Nov. 24, 1834. The canal extended from the mouth of Little Beaver Creek, on the Ohio River, to Bolivar on the Ohio Canal. Thus connections with Portsmouth, O., on the south and Cleveland on the north were to be obtained. It was 60 miles long. It was not completed until 1846, the panic of 1837 delaying the project.

The first boat under Captain Dunn reached New Lisbon on October 26 of that year. The east end of the canal, from New Lisbon to the Ohio River, was used until 1852; that, the middle division, from New Lisbon to Minerva, was utilized but a brief period. Work on its construction furnished much labor, enhanced connecting property and was a marked factor in the county development but the installation of railroads proved its final undoing and it finally went into disuse and decay.

The Erie and Ohio with a capital stock of $1,000,000 to connect "a point on the west side of Geagua County through Trumbell County to a place on the Ohio River in Columbiana County" was given a charter by the state legislature on Jan. 26, 1832. Two surveys were made, from Fairport, Lake County, through Painsville and Salem to Wellsville, which followed the then stage line in use between the points and from Ashtabula, Ashtabula County through Warren to East Liverpool. Both routes were approved by the legislature and charters given. New Lisbon, canal mad, favored the latter though touched by the former. The controversy was warm. Finally from all sources about $700,000 was raised and grading began at Ashtabula and East Liverpool, the terminal points, the latter including the grading of a roadbed a mile through a part of California Hallow. The panic of 1837 stopped the project and East Liverpool and Warren were years in recovering from the blow.

The Cleveland and Pittsburg, one of the earliest railways built west of the Alleghenies, was completed to Wellsville in 1852. The first train reached the Columbiana County town on March 4 of that year though trains over it had been operated as far as Alliance for two years previously. The engines on this new road were among the first in the country to use coal instead of wood for fuel, the supply being procured from the mines in Salineville. In 1854 the river division was completed south along the river to Steubenville and Bellaire. The Steubenville and Indiana Railroad Company which later became the "Panhandle" route of the Pennsylvania had been incorporated in 1848 and the sale of its bonds negotiated in Europe by Col. George W. Cook, a former Columbiana County resident. Its first train reached Steubenville on Oct. 8, 1853.

The Cleveland and Pittsburg railroad was incorporated in 1836. But the panic of the following year intervened and it was almost a decade before it or the Pennsylvania and Ohio railroad, incorporated on February 3, 1832 to extend from Pittsburg to Massillon, Ohio by way of Little Beaver Creek, New Lisbon and Canton with an authorized capital of $2,000,000, showed signs of life. After a long period of planning and agitation the preliminary work was completed and Wellsville citizens, having vision of a city on the Ohio that would rival Cleveland, contributed $50,000 for the project. Accordingly the initial charter ranted was revived on March 11, 1845 by the state legislature. The initial directors selected were: John M. Wolsey, Reuben Sheldon, Henry Cope, James Steward, A. G. Catlett, Zadock Street, Thomas Bolton, Daniel T. Lawson, John S. McIntosh, Alexander Wells, James Aten and Cyrus Prentiss. The first president was James Stewart of Wellsville; A. G. Catlett was selected as secretary and Cyrus Prentiss, treasurer. The election of officials occured on Oct. 20, 1845. On March 10, 1847, James Farmer succeeded to the presidency.

The building of the road from Wellsville to Rochester, Pa., was completed in 1856. On September 16, of that year the first train over the extension from Pittsburg, Pa., to a barbecue in Fremont, Ohio. There being no depot in East Liverpool tickets were procured at the doorstep of Andrew Blythe's home on Broadway, he being the company's agent. At Rochester, Pa., connection was made with the Pittsburg and Ohio railway which later became the "Ft. Wayne." The charter for this project was revived in 1847. The first train was run on the newly built roadway in May, 1851. The division from Pittsburg to Enon, Pa., was completed Nov. 24, 1851. Then freight was hauled across the river from Allegheny to Pittsburg.

On Nov. 27, 1851 the road was opened between Salem and Alliance. By Jan. 3, 1852 the initial passenger train from Columbiana to Pittsburg, Pa., was in operation.

The Ohio and Pennsylvania rapidly pushed the new road westward from Alliance to Crestline and in a few years consolidated with the Ohio & Indiana, which had been built from Crestline to Fort Wayne, Ind. Here the Fort Wayne and Chicago was added, the three roads making the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne and Chicago. Thus the initial departure for the later

great Fort Wayne system was made by Columbiana County people. The initial idea of all early railway promotion was for a connection with the various canals in the state. Not until 1899 was a regular Sunday train operated over the C. & B. railway. For the long tenure of Supt. John Thomas no Sunday trains were permitted to run. Those in opposition to them averred the lack of fatalities on the road was due to this habit of Sunday observance.

In 1866 the Niles and Lisbon railroad was opened to the county seat. It was first leased to the Atlantic and Great Western Railway and as such was leased to the Erie and became a part of the Erie system.

In 1886-'87 a second road entered Columbiana County it connecting New Galilee, Pa., on the Fort Wayne road. It was originally introduced by New York capitalists as the New York, Pittsburg and Chicago, it being intended to connect the Eastern states with the Chicago & Atlantic railroad at Marion, Ohio. The surveys were extended west of New Lisbon but the road was not built farther than the county seat. Under the name of the Pittsburg, Marion & Chicago it did much to develop the coal trade of that county. It was reorganized in 1896 as the Pittsburg, Lisbon & Western, and shortly afterwards passed under the control of the Wabash system.

Connecting Salem with the Erie system at Washingtonville the Salem railroad, seven miles long, was completed in September, 1892. The city, receiving permission from the legislature, bonded itself in the sum of $125,000 for the project. Following a legal controversy with the Pennsylvania railway the act of the legislature was declared unconstitutional and the road went into the hands of a receiver and after being purchased by the bondholders it was sold in November, 1902, by the Pittsburg, Lisbon and Western railroad and thus became a part of the Wabash system.

In 1903 the Youngstown & Southern Railroad surveyed a line from Youngstown via. Columbiana to Lisbon and East Liverpool. It was opened to Columbiana from Youngstown in 1904. Steam trains were first operated over it. Later trolleys were utilized with electric power.

A narrow guage railway to be known as the Ohio & Toledo was projected in 1872 but though grading was begun following its incorporation it failed and was never completed. It was planned to connect Leetonia via Hanoverton and Bolivar to Toledo.

In 1878 the Baltimore & Ohio surveyed a route along the old Sandy and Beaver Canal, entering the county at Kensigton on the west and continuing along the canal route to a point near Smith's Ferry, Pa., on the Ohio River. Grading even was begun at this latter point but was discontinued by the absorption of the Baltimore & Ohio system by the Pennsylvania. These surveys caused extensive negotiations for the Wabash system also.

In 1894 The Canton, East Liverpool and Southern Railroad was planned by residents in the Stark and Columbiana cities and though the rights of way were procured by the early nineties the project was not begun.

In 1886 Dr. George P. Ikert, of East Liverpool projected a route along the one for the proposed Ashtabula, Warren & East Liverpool road in 1836. The proposed road was incorporated as the New Lisbon, East Liverpool and Southern and was revived at intervals during the next decade without success.

Not until the Youngstown and Ohio railroad which connected East Liverpool and Salem and connected with Youngstown over the Youngstown and Southern was built and completed in 1908 was the rich coal fields in and about West Point opened up.

A freight depot was later established beyond West Ninth Street on the outskirts of East Liverpool. The road at times has also been used as a steam one.

The pioneer electric street railway in the county was built in Salem in 1890. It was almost three miles long and was operated by the Salem Electric Company.

The first traction line in the county was built in 1891 which connected the East End of East Liverpool with the West End of Wellsville. The projectors were Albert L. Johnson, of Cleveland, the brother of former Mayor Tom L. Johnson of that city; Sidney H. Short, wealthy inventor and C. E. Grover, both of Cleveland. It was originally seven miles in length and cost $200,000. In 1900-'03 it was extended two miles east of East Liverpool to the Pennsylvania state line and two branch extensions via East and West Market streets to the northern sections of East Liverpool. Following the erection of the East Liverpool-Chester, W. Va., bridge across the Ohio River in 1897 the Chester & East Liverpool Street Railway promoted by Charles A. Smith, built a line to Chester which greatly stimulated the attendance in Rock Springs Park in the latter place.

In 1905 a second bridge connecting East Liverpool with Newell, W. Va., when another trolley line was built to connect the two places, it being known as The Newell Street Railway Company. It was owned and operated by the North American Manufacturing Company, the holding company of which the Homer Laughlin China Company is the moving concern.

In 1904 the Stark Electric Railway, extending east through Alliance, reached Salem.

On Feb. 11, 1908, the lines had been extended so as to connect Steubenville and Midland, Pa., and intervening points. The railway became known as the Steubenville, East Liverpool and Beaver Valley Traction Company. Van Horn Ely and others of Rochester, N. Y. and other Empire state capitalists were connected with the early activities and developments of the roadway. By March 1 of the same year the extension was continued to Beaver, Pa., where train connection is made for Pittsburg, Pa.

For more than a decade Charles A. Smith, of Chester, W. Va., who was one of the pioneer backers of the traction projects in the Ohio Valley, has been in direct charge of the management of the railways as at present conducted. Power is obtained from the Ohio Power Company and the car barns and offices occupy a large tract of land in the East End of East Liverpool.

Five years after its inventor, Samuel Morse had built the experimental Baltimore-Washington line the telegraph reached Wellsville and East Liverpool from Pittsburg, it following the completion of the railway lines between these points. It also was extended to the northern end of the county about the same time.

About a quarter of a century later the telephone, "the plaything of the Philadelphia Centennial" was introduced into the county, the first Bell exchange being opened in East Liverpool about 1881. This departure gave the world its first "hello girl" in the person of Miss Ursilla Kinsey, a graduate of the East Liverpool High School, who was the first person in the Pottery City's central office to become a lady operator. She passed away in 1925 at Kittanning, Pa., after she had several years previously become the wife of John Wick, of that city.

In 1883 an exchange was installed in Wellsville. It was at the same time extended to Lisbon. Salem opened its exchange on July 1, 1884; Lisbon, June 1, 1890; Leetonia, Feb. 1, 1890; Columbiana, July 1, 1896 and East Palestine on Nov. 1, 1896.

In 1884 The Buckeye Clay Telephone Company, organized by the Hon. P. M. Smith, I. B. Clark and William Wooster, of Wellsville, opened an exchange in East Liverpool. It was installed in the old Stone residence of Washington Street, the present site of the Review-Tribune Building. Miss Jessie Stone (later Mrs. Billiard Morris) became the initial lady operator attached to it. With exchanges in Wellsville and Lisbon the company operated for about a year.

During the famous Van Fossan murder trial in 1885 The Evening Review received its details over the telephone from the Lisbon courthouse by telephone which was then considered a decided contribution to newspaper enterprise. The first regular daily telegraphic news service in the county was received twelve years later in 1897 by the East Liverpool Daily Crisis while James C. Deiclrick was its publisher.

East Liverpool was connected with long distance in 1894 two years after New York and Chicago had been similarly connected. The event in the Pottery City was celebrated with a public reception during which those attending were permitted to hear an orchestra playing in New York city. The Daily Crisis established a long distance circuit with Cleveland in 1898 and received a daily news report from the Forest City.

The Columbiana County Telephone Company, built to compete with the Bell interests, was established in 1898-'99. It was rapidly extended throughout the county and continued until activity it was sold in 1922 to the Bell Telephone Company of Ohio.


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