RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1916 Pennsylvania Railroad Guide
Columbus to Chicago
PASSENGERS to Chicago and to St. Louis via Piqua traverse the same line between Columbus and Bradford. Leaving the Union Station trains follow the valley of the Scioto River for a mile or more outside the city limits; then cut across country to Big Darby Creek, which waters a charming farming section for over sixteen miles.
Urbana is the largest town in this agricultural section, with a population of 8,100, chiefly engaged in the large rolling stock works located here, and in the manufacture of wagons, stoves, agricultural implements, shoes and furniture. Urbana University, an educational institution under the direction of the Swedenborgians, is located here.
Piqua, with a population of over 14,000, is a thriving town whose development has been largely due to the extensive use of the water power of the Miami River, which flows directly through the city. Its factories are busy in the production of woolen goods, furniture, and iron and steel products. One crosses here the Miami and Erie Canal, one of the main stems of the Ohio Canal System.
In 1749, the first English-speaking settlement in Ohio was made a few miles north of Piqua and was called Pickawillany, which was undoubtedly corrupted to the present name of Piqua. In 1752, all the inhabitants of this settlement were massacred by Indians.
Covington. Near this town the railroad crosses the Stillwater River, one of the tributaries of the Miami.
Bradford is given up almost entirely to the business of the Pennsylvania System. To the south extends the line leading to Richmond and Indianapolis. The fine building erected by the Young Men's Christian Association for the benefit of railroad men is a complete home; for it contains dormitories and restaurants for the use of the railroad men, and was erected some years ago on the triangle formed by the various lines centering at Bradford.
Woodington station, just before the State line between Ohio and Indiana is passed, is a few miles south of the site of old Fort Recovery, built in 1794, and of the terrible battle between St. Clair and the Wyandotte Indians on November 4, 1791, when St. Clair's force of 1,400 men were utterly routed.
Beyond the State line, which is crossed a short distance east of Union City, the railroad traverses the hills dividing the valleys of the Miami and the Wabash, which, like Darke County, Ohio, were once the habitat of hostile Indian tribes, who followed the French invasion of the northern end of the State. Through these bills flows the Mississinewa River, one of the tributaries of the Wabash, which the railroad first strikes at
Ridgeville, the junction point with the main line of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway, running north to Fort Wayne and into Michigan. Marion, with a population approximately 25,000, is in the natural gas and petroleum belt, as well as the center of an extensive agricultural section. Here is located one of the National Soldiers' Homes, the buildings of which can be seen on the hills about three miles south of the city. This home is one of the most extensive in the country, the plant having cost the government a million and a half of dollars in its erection.
For twenty miles beyond Miers station the little valley of Pipe Creek is followed all the way to its mouth in the Wabash River, where the main line from Cincinnati to Chicago joins the line from Columbus.
Logansport, with a population of 22,000, is one of the chief railroad cities in central Indiana. Its name was originally Logan's Port, from the fact that Captain Logan, a Shawnee chieftain, was killed in 1812, near the Maumee River, to the north of the city.
The city is most picturesquely located. The Wabash River, which at this point is in a wide valley between high hills, passes through the center of the city. The Eel River, which rises to the north, empties into the Wabash just west of the Pennsylvania Station, over a high ridge of rock, down which the water tumbles in wild confusion. Logansport's manufactures are varied and extensive, although the great shops of the Pennsylvania System, located here, give employment to many hundreds of its residents. Automobiles, and iron, steel and aluminum castings, also furnish a large part of its trade.
From Logansport branch lines extend to Toledo, South Bend, Effner, the eastern terminus of the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway (a subsidiary line of the Pennsylvania System), Terre Haute and Cincinnati.
Leaving Logansport, Pennsylvania System trains wind up and over the hill to the north of the city, passing over the Eel River falls on a high bridge. A remarkably beautiful view of the Wabash Valley, extending in either direction, may be had as the train reaches the summit of the hill. For over eighty miles beyond the railroad traverses the great Indiana prairie, which covers almost the entire northern part of the State. This wonderful section, almost as level as a billiard table for miles, was, according to historians, practically uninhabited until the advent of the French explorers in 1669 and 1670. Dotted with hundreds of small lakes, it was entirely treeless. What timber is here to-day, is said to have been planted by the settlers who came hither about 1815.
Winamac is interesting as marking the crossing of the Tippecanoe River, famed from its connection with General William Henry Harrison's big fight with Tecumseh and The Prophet November 7, 1811, some miles south, where the Tippecanoe empties into the Wabash.
General Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, who was then Governor of the Northwest Territory, found it impossible to get Tecumseh to leave the war path. So, with 900 men, he set out to rout the forces under Tecumseh's brother, known as "The Prophet." During a parley the wily Shawnees suddenly attacked the white men, but, after a bitter fight, were overthrown.
Passing English Lake, with its many bungalows and club houses, where hunters and fishermen come every season in great numbers, the railroad, just beyond Schererville station, curves down from the high prairie land over the escarpment, which, perhaps, at one period of the world's history was the southern shore line of Lake Michigan. Beyond this cleft one may see the smoke from Chicago's thousands of chimneys.
Just before reaching Lansing station the State line between Indiana and Illinois is passed. The railroad skirts the western shore of Lake Wolf and joins the Fort Wayne Division in South Chicago.