Central Ohio Transportation History Through Historical Markers – July 2020

As you travel around Ohio you will often see historical markers – there are 1700 of them scattered throughout the state. Using sound caution during these challenging times I spent a couple of hours running around the area finding markers that highlight the history of transportation in Central Ohio. This allowed me to start again the photo efforts, as well as history research, while avoiding people.

 

The National Road

Ohio was still wilderness in the late 1700s, inhabited by only Native Americans. When the Europeans arrived and started to push west from the eastern seaboard the state was one of the first destinations. The primary route for many of these settlers was the National Road.

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In Ohio the National Road started on the western end of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River. (this historic marker is from West Virginia)

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Initially it was just a trail through the countryside. This non paved alley in a small Ohio town is the exact location of the trail.

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The National Road had mile markers indicating how far you were from Cumberland, Maryland, the eastern terminus.

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A number of the famed ‘S’ bridges were along the route. This one dates from the early days of the automobile.

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This S Bridge dates from the pre-automotive days.

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Of course as soon as you have people and transportation someone is going to go off course.

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Canals

Not long after the National Road was first completed the canals started to be built. This transportation mode was the primary driver that lead Ohio to become the the 3rd most populated state by 1840, a position it would hold until Illinois passed it in 1900.

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The canals opened up the interior of the state with connections to the Great Lakes and the Ohio River.

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In addition to the main canals, there were ‘feeder canals’ branching off to spur industrial development.

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The little village of Lockville has 3 locks in a short distance, as well as a vintage covered bridge that would’ve once crossed it.

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The city of Groveport has restored their lock.

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The town of Lockbourne is proud of their canal and lock heritage, although their one lock could us a bit of attention.

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Trains

The canals had their heyday until the trains became prevalent in the 1850s.

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While the mainline trains carried commerce and passengers across the state and beyond, Ohio became a center for the ‘Interurban’.

The Interurban served as a local transportation option between cities closely aligned, essentially the same as today’s commuter rail systems.

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The map below shows how extensive the interurban network was in the state.

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As one of the larger cities in the state, Columbus was a hub for the interurban transportation.

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The line going south out of the city was known as the Scioto Valley Interurban.

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Amazingly it had a third rail in the countryside (providing the power from a rail in the ground, not overhead wires).  You would think that a number of cows became instant steaks by stepping on these…

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The rails are still part of a street in the town of Groveport.

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Canal Winchester has restored their Interurban station as a community center.

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While nearby the town had a mainline train station.

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Airports

While the Wright Brothers were the first developers of the airplane in nearby Dayton in the first decade of the 1900s, it took until 1923 for Columbus to have it’s first permanent air field.

It was named Norton Field, and as the historical marker indicates, was named after a Columbus native and World War I casualty John Norton. The opening was attended by Eddie Rickenbacker (more below on Eddie).

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The field was located east of the city, just south of the current airport.

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It was used primarily by the military, and was shut down as suburbia reached the area in the 1950s. Today the only reminder of it’s history (other than the marker) is the park in the neighborhood.

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Just north of Norton Field is John Glenn Columbus International Airport, whose airport code is CMH – Columbus Metropolitan Hangar – the original name for the field.

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The airport location was selected by Charles Lindbergh as the eastern terminus of the Transcontinental Air Transport. This unique design had passengers travel to Columbus from New York on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

From Columbus the passengers could fly to a town called Waynoka, Oklhoma, where they would again get on a train – this time to Clovis, New Mexico.

In Clovis they would again get on an airplane and fly on to Los Angeles.

The photo below clearly shows how close the train was to the airport. Note the T-A-T airplanes in the foreground – they later merged with Western Air Express to become TWA.

The entire concept was a disaster. In 18 months they lost $2.7m, was involved in the first plane crash on a regular commercial route, and eventually became involved in a scandal known as the Air Mail scandal.

03 TAT - Transcontinental Air Transport Ford Tri-Motors at Port Columbus, Ohio Airport, 8 July 1929, Opening of Eastern Air Link of TAT's First Rail-Air, NY to CA

 

 

But the airport survived. This photo looking southwest shows the field.

Norton Field is in the upper left grassy area, and on the center right is the construction of Curtiss-Wright Airplane factory. This factory built military aircraft until the 1988.

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The original terminal sits unused in a distant corner of the airport.

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A sign of the times are a number of currently mothballed aircraft – waiting for travel to return after COVID.

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Eddie Rickenbacker grew up in this modest house on the east side of Columbus. From this start Eddie lead a most eventful life. He was a World War I fighter pilot – race car driver – automobile designer – and pioneer in air transportation, leading Pan Am Airlines.

2018 06 10 86 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour

 

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Eddie’s name graces the former air force base turned freight airport – Rickenbacker International Airport.

 

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Central Ohio has had a long history of transportation – perhaps a Hyperloop is next…

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Chicago – History Through Maps and Photographs – Part 1 The World Fairs

As we continue to be restricted to any travel the ‘virtual travel’ series is continuing with some history. This posting will detail the history of Chicago through maps and photographs, and take a look at what it looks like now.

 

In 1840 when New York City already had over 300,000 people, Chicago was just starting as a town with just a few thousand. By 1860 is was in the top 10 with over 100,000, and just 30 years later there was 1.1 million people and Chicago was ‘The Second City’, doubling in population from 1880 to 1890.

 

Celebrating Chicago through World’s Fairs

It was around this time that Chicago decided to make it’s presence known on the world stage by hosting a World’s Fair. Local leaders lobbied hard to land the right to host this fair with the federal government, winning out over New York, Washington and St Louis.

The site chosen, Jackson Park, provided the 600 acres required. The lead architect was the famed Daniel Burnham, who was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement.

While most of the buildings were designed and built to be temporary, there are a few that remain to this day.

With all of the buildings built in a neo-classical design and painted the same color, it became known as The White City.

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Getting to the Fair

With the incredible growth of the city from the end of the Civil War to 1890, Chicago’s transit struggled to keep up. Initially private companies had built horse drawn trolleys downtown. In 1892 the first of the famed El’s was completed from 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the Loop. The next year the Chicago and South Side Elevated Railway extended this to the fair site at Jackson Park.

The map below dates from the 1930s but clearly shows the line going south before turning left towards the lake, ending at Jackson Park. (Red Lines denote the El). This company failed not long after the fair ended because there was not enough ridership to maintain financial stability, being sold under foreclosure.

Of note this line was originally not electrified, the coaches were pulled by an engine.

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The Chicago History Center has one of the original cars on display.

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Green Line Train today

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Also note the Midway Plaisance connecting Washington Park and Jackson Park (Green strip on map between the parks). This area was the Entertainment section of the park (more on this below).

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Today the Green Line takes a very similar route, although the spur towards the lake only goes to Cottage Grove Avenue, and the southernmost branch is gone.

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As noted in the photo description this is the entrance at the Midway Plaisance.

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The map detail shows some of the highlights of this area, including the famed Ferris Wheel. While there had been a wooden wheel built in Atlantic City in 1891, but it burned down the next year.

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Ferris’s wheel was to be Chicago’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It was massive – 264 feet high, with a capacity of 2,160 passengers. So renown was this feature that for many years Ferris Wheel’s were known as ‘Chicago Wheels’

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Today Chicago’s Navy Pier has one that, while impressive, is shorter than the original.

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The Midway Plaisance today serves as a park area next to the University of Chicago. There are a few reminders of the fair.

 

 

The grounds and buildings were magnificent.

 

 

The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the few buildings built to remain after the fair.

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It serves today as the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

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The Statue of the Republic Was the Centerpiece of the Basin.

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While no longer surrounded by water it is one of the few remaining structures from the fair.

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But Chicago had a second chance at a World’s Fair just 40 years later, when they hosted the Century of Progress, which ran from May 1933 until October 1934, taking the winter off.

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But the city, and world, has had significant change since 1893.

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The Auto Club sponsored ‘Routes’ with fair themed names for automobile travelers to come to the city. In addition they sponsored ‘Motor Villages’, campgrounds and motels on the outskirts of town,.

 

 

Despite the introduction of the automobile, train travel was still the primary way to get to Chicago.

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This Conoco map shows an Illinois Central Railway Station at the entrance to the fair.

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In addition to the station at the fairgrounds entrance, there were another 6 train stations downtown, including the commuter rail stations.

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Today there are 3, two for the commuter rail and Union Station, and even that station is just a portion of what it was.

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Union Station is still very nice, but this grand space above was torn down in 1969.

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Once you were in town the El or streetcar network would take you to where you needed to go.

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El to Fair

 

Including directly to the Fair.

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Welcome to the Century of Progress World’s Fair entrance.

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The skyride took passengers from the main entrance on Columbus Drive to the lake shore. In this photo the Field Museum and the skyline of downtown is clearly visible.

One of the features of the 1933 fair compared to 1893’s is that it was essentially downtown, whereas the Columbian Exposition was a couple of miles south of downtown.

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The 1930s was the height of the Art Deco movement (a favorite of mine), and the advertising for the fair highlighted this.

 

 

The industrialists of the day had major exhibits. GM even built an assembly line.

 

You could see the homes of tomorrow.

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After the fair an investor purchased the homes and moved them by barge to nearby Indiana, and placed them along the lake shore as an attraction to the community he was building.

Time was tough on the homes, but over the last 20 years or so the state of Indiana has sponsored a program where you can lease them for $1 with the stipulation you fix them up (which costs $1m +). The results are fantastic.

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Many Chicago landmarks were part of the fair including Adler Planetarium

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as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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Chicago has always used their lake shore for the public’s enjoyment, never more so than during the two World’s Fairs. Part 2 of this series in a few days will focus more on the development of the transportation in the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – British Columbia

Our last province, British Columbia. As the saying goes, we saved the best for last!

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We start out in far southeastern BC at the town of Sparwood. Named for the lumber that went into making spars (poles) for ships, Sparwood is a mining town. As you enter town you can’t miss Terex Titan, one of the largest trucks in the world, now retired in front of the visitor center.

 

 

Eastern BC has a number of great waterfalls including those below: Helmcken, Dawson and Rearguard Falls.

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The town of Lake Country BC is home to a Kangaroo Farm! It was very cool, especially holding a baby kangaroo.

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High above the town of Kamloops is the Myrna Canyon Trestle Trail. Once a railway, now one of the best bike paths anywhere.

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In Hope BC there is another path, much lower that goes through the Othello Tunnels. Nearby is the Bridal Veil Falls.

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The Vancouver suburb of Burnaby has a great park with these native statues. The persistent rain and fog added to the atmosphere.

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Capilano Park in North Vancouver has an amazing bridge (that bounces!) and a forest canopy walk, along with more totem poles.

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Vancouver is one of the world’s great cities. Situated on a bay, with islands and the mountains, the views are fantastic. They have height limits on the buildings so that they don’t block the views.

 

 

The Museum of Anthropology has the largest native sculpture collection anywhere.

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Vancouver is even better from the ‘Lookout’, especially after a nice walk along the harbour.

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Vancouver has character!

 

 

 

Our final stop is Victoria, on Vancouver Island (which Vancouver is not). BC Ferries will get you there.

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The city is the capital of the province, and has a great history.

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It is also home to numerous gardens, including Hartley Castle and Gardens.

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Our virtual trips across North America has come to an end, but there is more coming – up next Chicago – History through Maps and Photos…. stay tuned.

 

 

Virtual Travel – Alberta

 

Welcome to Alberta

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Where the prairies meet the mountains.

 

 

Calgary is the largest city in the province.

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Edmonton is nearly as large as Calgary. They have a strong hockey rivalry.

Oil is the business of Edmonton, and is reflected in the hockey team’s name.  (photos of Edmonton from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Banff was Canada’s first national park, and remains a beautiful area.

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Lake Louise is renown for the turquoise water, and tourists.

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The Icefields Parkway is a 140 mile long road from Banff to Jasper, passing numerous glaciers and waterfalls. It is one of the best drives in the world.

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Jasper is home to Athabasca Falls. Tomorrow is our final stop in Canada – British Columbia.

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Virtual Travel – Prairie Provinces

I have been fortunate enough to have been in all 50 states, and all but 2 provinces of Canada – Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Today’s visit takes us there (obviously all photos will be from the Internet).

 

Manitoba

 

Manitoba is home to 1.4 million people, most of which live near Winnipeg. The city has long, cold winters with November through March all having average HIGHS below freezing (32 f/0 c). It is listed as the second sunniest city in Canada, so you have that going for you.

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But eventually it does thaw out!

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2019 Winnipeg Food Truck Guide | Peg City Grub | Tourism Winnipeg

 

It has a very diverse economy, with no one industry being dominate.

Packers to play in Canada: How much it will cost and places to go ...

What does the future hold for development in Winnipeg? - Winnipeg ...

 

It is the capital of the province, so government is big business.

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Winnipeg has the highest population of aboriginal people in all of Canada. The city is 12% Native Canadian

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The small, far northern town of Churchill each fall has a migration of polar bears pass through town as they migrate from their summer home to their winter home.

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Tours are apparently very popular

Northern winter safari to see polar bears, northern lights in ...

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Riding Mountain National Park is also in Northern Manitoba, just not nearly as far north.

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It is known for it’s bison

File:Bison herd - Lake Audy - Riding Mountain National Park.JPG ...

 

 

As well as the moose

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Our final stop – an Indiana Jones nightmare – is the Narcisse Snake Dens. Tens of thousands of red sided garter snakes reside here during the winter before migrating to a nearby swamp.

Narcisse Snake Dens – Gimli, Manitoba - Atlas Obscura

 

Narcisse Snake Dens Update Page!

 

 

Let’s move westward to Saskatchewan.

 

Mining is the largest industry in the province, whereas the finance and insurance industry makes up the largest white collar sector.

As the Guess Who sang, it is time for ‘Running Back to Saskatoon’.

 

Saskatoon is the largest city with a population of nearly 300,000. The population is fairly diverse.

Much like Winnipeg it is bitterly cold in the winter.

 

But it too eventually thaws out.

Welcome to Saskatoon | Hotels, Restaurants, & Things To Do

 

 

For a city of it’s size it has an excellent collection of architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

Regina is the 2nd largest city in the province. It is the provincial capital.

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The Prince Edward Theater is a classic old hall.

 

 

The First Nations University has incorporated a tepee into the building design.

 

 

But our prairie time has come to an end, time to move further west to Alberta tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Ontario

Welcome to Ontario – Canada’s largest province by population, and the center of the country’s media.

It is also home to more NHL hockey players than any other place in the world.

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Government/History

1931     1946     1948     1952     1955 – Parliment Buildings     1968     1970     1973    1996 – Yonge Street

 

 

 

 

Ottawa

The Canadian National Capital is in Ottawa. The collection of buildings are on what is known as Parliament Hill. They were built between 1859 and 1927.

The metro area is the 5th largest in the country with 1.3 million people.

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Many of the buildings are open for tours. The main assembly hall has started a 10 year reconstruction effort, so a new hall was built in what was previously an open space between buildings.

 

 

The city is located at the confluence of the Rideau Canal and the Rideau River.

 

 

During the summer the buildings are lit up in the evenings with an impressive light show.

 

 

 

 

Roads and Bridges

1957     1958     1959     1960     1962     1964     1965     1967    1986 – Ivy Lea Bridge    2010 – Highway 406 St Catharines

 

 

Toronto is by far the largest city in Canada, and one of the major cities in North America. It is also one of my favorite cities in the world.

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The CN Tower was completed in 1973 as the worldest tallest freestanding structure, a record it held until 2007.