RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Crestline to Rochester  

CRESTLINE is an important railway station, at the intersection of two great lines of railway, viz : the Cincinnati and Cleveland line, and the continuation of the Pennsylvania Central, through Ohio and Indiana. From Crestline to Pittsburgh, by the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad, is 187 miles; and from Crestline to Fort Wayne, Indiana, 120 miles. From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, is 353 miles. Thus, there is a continuous line of Railway, from Philadelphia,-- via Pittsburgh, Crestline, Bucyrus, Crawford county, Lima, Allen county, -- to Fort Wayne; thence, a system of railways -- now constructing will take the traveler to any point on the Ohio, the Wabash, or Lake Michigan. At Crestline, therefore, he can, if he please, depart to any point in the United States. Large and handsome depots and shops are erected here for the accommodation of the extensive business which must necessarily be conducted at this point.

Shelby Junction

SHELBY (of which we have given a view), is also an important station. Here the track of the Mansfield and Lake Erie Railroad, crosses that of the Cleveland and Cincinnati line. Here the traveler may have a choice of routes. He may go to Sandusky City, by the Mansfield Railroad, or he may go south to Mansfield, Mount Vernon, Newark, and Zanesville. At Newark, the Mansfield Railroad connects with the Scioto and Hocking Railroad, which will continue it to Portsmouth, on the Ohio. When completed, this will make one of the through lines of the State, -- passing from Sandusky City, through Shelby, Mansfield, Mount Vernon, Newark, Lancaster, Logan, Jackson, to Portsmouth-and penetrating the western edge of the mineral regions of Ohio.

MANSFIELD, -- for which Shelby is the station -- is a large town of about 4,000 inhabitants --county seat of Richland county. It was named from General Jared Mansfield, Surveyor General of the Northwestern Territory, from 1803 to 1812. Richland is one of the great wheat counties, which extend in a sort of belt through this part of Ohio. It is quite singular, that although we are now in the most productive grain region of the United States, we see scarcely any indications of it! Everything is new, and the fields are not remarkably well cultivated. The reason, however, is obvious. The railway, to obtain proper grades, has gone on a new path, avoiding all the old highways, and therefore leaving out of sight, the best houses and farms. That we may have some idea, however, of what this wheat belt really does produce, I take the following facts from the Auditor of State's Report. Including the county we are in, there are just thirteen counties, viz: Morrow, Richland, Knox, Ashland, Wayne, Holmes, Coshocton, Stark, Tuscarawas, Columbiana, Carroll, Harrison, and Jefferson, between the west line of Richland and the Ohio River. These counties cover a surface of 6,.000 square miles, and produced in the year 1850, nine million of bushels of wheat, and six million five hundred thousand bushels of corn! These counties contained 350,000 inhabitants; so that they raised a surplus of at least six million of bushels of wheat! No part of the United States of equal extent, raises the same amount; indeed no single State produces a surplus equal to that of these counties, in 1850. If the traveler could leave the railway at the Shelby station, and take a buggy, traveling on the common roads of the country, -- he would then see something of these waving fields of wheat and corn, which make this the granary of the West.

SALEM is only a station, 193 miles from Cincinnati, and 60 miles from Cleveland. It is on the northern edge of Richland county.

GREENWICH, 199 miles from Cincinnati, and 54 miles from Cleveland, is in Huron, the western county of the Western Reserve.

The WESTERN RESERVE, as it is commonly called, is every where known as a particular section of Ohio-almost amounting to a separate State. It is also called "Now Connecticut," from the fact that it was originally owned and chiefly settled by Connecticut. The manner in which it came to belong to Connecticut is very curious When the first charters were granted to the American Colonies, there was great ignorance in regard to the geography of this continent. Indeed, it was an unexplored region-a complete terra incognita. The charters. therefore, frequently conflicted with one another. This was the case with the charter of Connecticut. by which King Charles the II. conveyed to the Connecticut Colony, all the lands between the 41st and 42d degrees of latitude, from the Providence plantation to the Pacific Ocean! This, of course, conflicted with New York and Pennsylvania, with whom there immediately arose an altercation. In 1786, Connecticut, in common with the other States, granted to the General Government, all her western lands; but kept up her claims on Pennsylvania and New York. At length, the United States Government compromised the matter, by reserving to the State of Connecticut this district, containing 3,800,000 acres which the State has since sold, and the proceeds of which constitutes the basis of the Connecticut School Funds. The RESERVE contains twelve counties, viz: Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Cuyahoga, Summit, Medina, Lorain, Erie, and Huron. We are now traversing Huron. This is a productive county--being level and generally rich. The arable ground, (about 50,000 acres in cultivation), is about equally divided, between the culture of corn and wheat. Large parts of the lands of this county, however, are used as pastures and meadows -which feed great numbers of cattle and sheep.

Huron was originally constituted entirely out of the "Fire Lands,"--a body of land given by the State of Connecticut,, to those of its citizens who suffered by fire in the revolutionary war. These were principally in the towns of Norwalk, Danbury, and New Haven. As usual, however, most of them fell into the hands of speculators, and some of them have been held by the original purchasers to this day.

We cross, near Greenwich, the head waters of Vermillion River, which empties into Lake Erie, at the port of Vermillion, a place which has considerable commerce.

NEW LONDON is the next station, 47 miles from Cleveland. After leaving this station, we soon pass out of Huron county, and come to

ROCHESTER, 41 miles from Cleveland. This station is in Lorain county. This county has no great commercial town, but is nevertheless, a fast growing and flourishing district. It is much less productive in grain, than the counties we have just passed through, but has large numbers of cattle and sheep, and fine pasturage. Its principal towns are Elyria, the county seat, and the celebrated Oberlin. It is watered by Black River,--at whose mouth there centres considerable commerce. The rivers of the Reserve are all quite short-only about 40 or 50 miles in length and not navigable--yet as their mouths constitute almost the only harbors on the Lakes, they have created points of concentration for navigation and commerce. This is the case with the Maumee, Sandusky, Huron, Vermillion, Black River, Cuyahoga, and Grand River; from all of which--even the smallest-there is a large export trade.

In traveling through Lorain and Cuyahoga, the traveler will note that he is not only in the "Reserve," but he is in a very different country, as to soil and geological appearances. In the Miami country, we found valleys of rich black soil, of exceeding fertility--surrounded by rolling hills, round and graceful. As we came through the wheat belt, we found the land rolling-but scarcely any hills--with a loamy soil,-neither the black alluvian, nor the clay; but well adapted to the small grain; but now, as we approach the Lake, the ground is flat and clayey--producing fine grass, but not very productive in grain. The original opinion held of these soils, may be known, by the early classification of soils. That of the Miami valleys, was set down as first rate; that of the middle counties, as second rate; and that of the Reserve, as third rate. Judged by the standard of Indian corn, this was a correct classification. But Nature has a way peculiar to every kind of soil, as well as plant. These lands of the Reserve, produce excellent grass; and its inhabitants make up in cheese, and butter, and wool, what they lack in corn.