The Mansfield Savings Bank

The Mansfield Savings Bank & Trust Co. Almanac, 1923


Brief History of Mansfield ... Early Railroads


Source:  Mansfield Savings Bank & Trust Co. Almanac, 1923, pp. 42-43


The first railroad in Ohio, according to the historian ATWATER, was finished in 1836, and extended from Toledo westward into Michigan a distance of thirty miles. The late Hon. E.D. MANSFIELD, whose historical statements have been accepted as correct, claimed that the first actual piece of railroad laid in Ohio was on the Cincinnati & Sandusky, better known in history as the Mad River railroad. But, as the charter of the Mad River road was not granted until March 11, 1836, and its history shows that its work was not commenced on its roadbed until 1827, and it is a fact that the Toledo road was in operation in 1836, we must accept ATWATER's statement in the matter, as his history was published in 1838, and the railroads were few and far between, he no doubt knew whereof he wrote. Mansfield's first railroad was the Mansfield & Sandusky City railroad, and extended from this city to Sandusky, a distance of 54 miles. This road was a consolidation of several roads as follows: the Mansfield & New Haven, chartered March 12, 1836; Monroeville & Sandusky, chartered March 9, 1835; the Huron & Oxford, chartered February 27, 1846. 

The Monroeville & Sandusky City road at first had wood rails and the cars were drawn by horses. The first train on the Mansfield & Sandusky City road, carrying passengers, was run on the 16th. day of May, 1846 and brought a party of excursionists from Plymouth and Shelby to attend a war meeting in Mansfield, when General McLAUGHLIN was recruiting a company of volunteers to serve in the war with Mexico, in which the United States was then engaged. The track, made of strap iron laid upon wooden rails, was barely passable, the strap iron rails had the habit of curling up at the ends and poking through the floor of the cars, producing what was known at the time as "snake heads". 

A speed of ten miles an hour was excessive and fraught with great danger. The rails at this time were laid only to the north end of town, not far from the present waterworks pumping station. The late J. Harvey COOK, was the conductor of this first train, and among other incidents of the occasion, often related how the crowd which had gathered to see the "cars come in", scattered and ran when the engineer blew the engine whistle. The first regular passenger train ran into Mansfield on the 19th. of June, 1846. The Newark extension was completed in 1850. The late John HOOVER, for many years a conductor on the Mansfield & Sandusky road, stated an incident that occurred in the long ago. "Something had gone wrong with the engine, north of Shelby, and when they got it in running order again night was upon them and they sought lodgings for the night at a farm house nearby. A passenger, who was in a hurry, suggested that as they had a big lantern, a man might carry it ahead and the train follow into Shelby. The idea was looked upon as absurd and the man who suggested it viewed with pity, if not with contempt, for whoever heard of a train of cars running after night."