By Colin Foster
March 8, 2014
By Scott D. Trostel
No single event more positively impacted the early growth of Troy than did the coming of the railroad.
The Dayton and Michigan Railroad, chartered in 1851, was largely funded by residents in Troy and southern Miami County. The line was projected, between Dayton and Troy, with a long-range target of Toledo. Unlike today’s railroad, the technology of 1852 was rather crude in comparison. The rails were wooden stringers, with iron strips nailed on top forming rails. Cross-ties were largely hewn logs cut from local forests. The locomotives were steam, burning wood for fuel. Passenger coaches were simple affairs of wooden construction with wooden bench seats. Top speed was about 20 mph.
The work to build the D&M started in January 1852 with tracks being laid north from Dayton at the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad station, generally following the Miami and Erie Canal. Throughout that year work slowly progressed north, with excavation being carried out by hand and with horse drawn scoops. Along the Great Miami River the grades were easy, the only major obstacle being construction of the river bridge on the east side of Dayton.
At long last the track reached Troy, entering the village down the middle of Clay Street. A brick station house was built in the southwest corner of Main and Clay Streets on Troy’s east side. The first train reportedly arrived on March 28, 1853. It was a grand day of celebration as businesses closed and everyone came to see the arrival of the first train. A locomotive with five burden (flat) cars arrived with supplies to further construction of the railroad. Construction workers, reported as rowdies, apparently had been drinking and the celebration quickly turned into a stone throwing event, as spectators were pelted by stones, and thus returning the unwelcome volleys. A turntable was installed on the northeast side of Main Street and the locomotives were turned, and resupplied with wood and water for the return trip to Dayton. For undisclosed reason the station house was relocated on the northeast side of Main Street west of the turntable. For the citizens of Troy it mean year round transportation, which the canal was not able to offer. For the first time a person could board a train arriving in Dayton in just an hour in any kind of weather. Farmers could send livestock to Dayton and Cincinnati market and have them delivered in the same day. A person could leave Troy on the morning train, travel all the way to Cincinnati, conduct business there, have lunch in Porkopolis and return to Troy in time for the evening meal. This was an amazing accomplishment. To make the trip to Dayton on the canal was a full day travel one way and was subject to having enough water in the canal to support a canal boat, if the canal wasn’t frozen in the winter.
The D & M reached Toledo in 1859, and on June 1, 1863, was consolidated into the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, a name it held through 1914 and its sale to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company. The line exists today as CSX.
The Piqua and Troy Branch Line Railroad, a subsidiary of the C H & D was built around the west side of Troy in 1887. Its purpose was to bring passenger trains of the C H & D into the Wayne Street passenger station in Piqua on the west side of the Miami River. Troy fought construction of the line for nearly seven years when the C H & D finally decided to build the line around Troy. The line was incorporated on October 1, 1881, and construction commenced in early 1887. The first train rolled into Troy on October 4, 1887, pulled by locomotive Number 73, with Frank Thompson, Engineer and Seymour Evans, Conductor. The train consisted of two coaches, and 168 passengers, arriving in Troy at near 9 a.m. Few people knew in advance of its coming. It took about a year to make successful arrangements at Piqua to use about a mile of the Pennsylvania Railroad and their bridge to get across to home tracks on the east side of Piqua at Huntersville.
Almost immediately the C H & D announced that passenger station arrangements in Troy would be shifted from the station on East Main to a beautiful new sandstone station on West Street at the P & T Switch. The station was built to face the P & T (west). All C H & D passenger trains used the P & T around the west side of Troy until October 1913, when the Pennsylvania Railroad elevated its tracks through Piqua and shut out the C H & D from use of its tracks to cross the river in Piqua. In Troy this meant building a platform on the east side of the station and reverting all passenger trains back to the older D & M main line. Passenger service was constant until regular passenger service ended on May 1, 1971, thus ending 118 years of passenger train service for Troy. The use of steam locomotives on passenger trains ended October 16, 1956 and the last steam locomotive in regular freight service ended unceremoniously ended during the summer of 1958 with a north bound work train.
The east-west line, commonly referred to as the New York Central Railroad through Troy was built as the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad by New York financier Austin Corbin. It was surveyed to connect Springfield, Ohio with Indianapolis, Indiana and to provide a means to transport coal from the mines of southern Ohio to the factories in Indiana and Illinois. The line was incorporated as the Ohio and Indiana State Line Railroad on Nov. 13, 1880, but only conducted surveys for the proposed line. Through a series of legal events, it became the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railway Company, announcing construction of the railroad through Troy on May 10, 1883, during the last railroad construction boom. The first train entered Troy on Feb. 22, 1882 while the line was still under construction. Grounds for a station were secured just east of Crawford Street near the site where the C H & D would erect its sandstone station in 1890. That same station stood until demolished in the late 1980s, well after the line had been abandoned.
On the first Sunday of May, 1882 a golden spike ceremony was held just west of Ludlow Falls where over 2,500 people were present to witness the completion of the line. It should be noted here that a number of fills and permanent bridges were not yet in place. Temporary trestles were used to get the line open.
It was July of 1882 before full service could be offered all the way from Springfield to Indianapolis. The line entered receivership by July 1, 1886. It was a fairly active line, but the cost of operation exceeded revenues and it was foreclosed on Jan. 9, 1890.
The line emerged from receivership as an arm of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (Big Four Route), which in turn was a holding of the New York Central Railroad. The line ended passenger service in the early 1950s with a self-propelled passenger car know as the doodle bug. The last of the steam locomotives passed through Troy in the mid-1950s. By the late 1960s the line had been downgraded to local service and only one through freight train operated over the line after 1970, otherwise it was served by a local train who switched all the industry daily between Springfield and Lynn, Indiana.
Operation of the line in was abandoned on March 31, 1976 by the Penn Central. Three miles of track was sold to the Chessie System in Troy, Ohio, which was operated until about 1987. The rest of the line was dismantled in the spring and summer of 1978 and sold for scrap. The Troy depot agent was Shorty Furlong of Laura. The last train departed Troy about 8:30 p.m. with one engine, 13 cars and a caboose, east bound.
THE INTERURBAN RAILWAYS
Troy was served by two lines of electric interurban railways. The first to enter Troy was the Miami Valley Railway on its eight mile line connecting the cities of Piqua and Troy. It was incorporated October 21, 1892. The corporate name was altered slightly to reveal the Miami Valley Electric Railway Company in a Feb. 25, 1893, release. A franchise was obtained from Miami County Commissioners on Nov. 7, 1892. First opposition to the line came from the owners of the Troy Electric Light & Power Company when they asked for and were granted the rights to operate cars within the City of Troy proper.
The formal petition to operate cars within Troy was dated Jan. 30, 1893, and included two routes from the fairgrounds to the public square. When the final franchise was granted, it excluded any intercity service and granted exclusive rights for service within the City of Troy to T E L & P Co. Strangely enough, the car that was to operate local service in Troy would operate over the tracks of the MV under a contract with the owners of the T E L & P Co. who also supplied power on the South end of the MV line. Construction started in Piqua on March 14, 1893, with the first rails being placed on April, 24. The route generally followed the Miami - Erie Canal to Farrington, Eldean and the fairgrounds where it entered Troy on Elm Street.
The route in Troy was Elm to Main Street, On Main it crossed over the Dye Mill Race then the Miami & Erie Canal on draw bridges. Between Plum and Cherry Streets a passing siding was installed. The tracks continued on to the public square, then south on Market Street to Raper Street where it turned east to Clay Street, then south to West Street, east to Crawford Street where it went south one block to the depots of the Big Four and C H & D Railroads. From the public square to the railroad stations the right-of-way was negotiated under deed from the T E L & P Co.
The residents of the South Market Street area of Troy, south of the canal had successfully gained a court injunction in April to prevent the removal of trees and destruction of a boulevard for the construction of the tracks. Then at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, May 13, the injunction expired and no judges could be convinced to come in at that late hour and extend the order. Contractor Alley and his crews went to work at 12:01 a.m. They sawed the trees down close to the ground, laid ties and rail and when the residents awoke the next morning, they found 2,300 feet of new track in the middle of their former shade tree lined street. The friction from this event did not cool, instead the war intensified with legal suits filed for damages.
Single truck cars for the MV were ordered March tenth from the St. Louis Car Company in St. Louis, Missouri, and were to be built after the style of passenger coaches.
The cars were delivered during August but did not see use on the line for about a week after track was completed. Two cars were initially ordered, named: City of Piqua and City of Troy. The cars were single truck two axle style with open platforms and coal-oil head lamps. Electric arc head lights were not installed until October 12, 1900. The cars were numbered in sequence starting with Number 1. During 1894 the M V took delivery of some open air cars in time for use in opening Midway Park. The first trip on the newly completed Miami Valley Railway was late during the evening of Aug. 26, when car Number 1 of the Piqua Electric Railway with Motoreer Henry Bertling at the controller rolled into Troy around 10 p.m.
Residents rushed out of their homes and with shouts and cheers followed the car to the Public Square and the Morris House where the car stopped and the passengers were greeted by proprietor John Berry. People crowded around to see the car and when it started toward Piqua, the crowd followed, running along side, shouting and cheering. Sparks flew from the wheels but no one seemed to mind and at that the line was declared complete and ready for service.
Formal operation of the line commenced on Aug. 30, however daily operations had taken place every day previous with two motor cars and two trailers from the Piqua line. That time was mainly used to train the motoreers and conductors in the operation of the equipment, however passengers were carried.
The ceremony to dedicate the new line was described in an article in the Buckeye, a Troy newspaper:
“The cars on this end of the line were loaded with city and county officials, prominent citizens and newspaper reporters and a start was made for Piqua at 5:30 o’clock. Arriving in that city a generous reception was given our people, who in turn invited the leading men and officials of the new road to accompany then back to the Diamond City to witness the demonstration that was in readiness.
“The air was filled with a deafening noise when shortly after eight o’clock all factory whistles let loose, announcing the start on the return trip. The Public Square was one great sea of people who had gathered for the auspicious event—in fact, it was the largest crowd that has assembled in the heart of our city for twenty years. As the magnificent new cars gracefully glided into the City well loaded with ‘big men’ of both places, the valves of the piercing whistles were again pulled wide open, while brilliant fireworks shot across the heavens, making it an altogether scene as will never be forgotten by those who witnessed the event.
“A stop was made at the Morris House where the officials were entertained and congratulated on the enterprise which has given our people rapid transportation and which promises to be a splendid success. They announced themselves highly pleased with the reception given them, and when they returned home carried with them pleasant recollections of the evening’s entertainment.
“The city was thoroughly decorated in honor of the event and the people generally are well satisfied over the royal welcome given to our neighbors on the north.
“This morning the two through cars began making regular trips between the two cities while the local car is running between the depots and Court House, though it may be some days before the workings of the system will be on prompt schedule time. We expect to describe in next week’s issue the elegant cars built especially for travel on the MIAMI VALLEY ELECTRIC RAILWAY.
“All hail to the street car line!”
The next day the “dinky,” the city car used within Troy started service and it appears to have been one of the Piqua City cars. The Troy city car continued to operate until about 1905 when the D & T discontinued it and abandoned its trackage in the Raper Street and railroad depot area.
The Miami Valley Railway was sold to the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad (steam) in 1902. It was leased to the Dayton & Troy Electric Railway locked itself into the most populated corridor north of Dayton along the Miami River up to Piqua.
The Dayton & Troy Electric Railway built a line from Dayton to Troy. In January 1901, as the D & T started major construction, City Solicitor Shipman of Troy brought an injunction against the D & T to prevent it from removing the isolated trackage on Union Street, even though the D & T was planning to enter Troy along the McKaig ditch and South Market Street. The town council, even though having granted an operating franchise to the D & T, was still unsettled over the final terms for entry into the town and continued along in a quandary after the D & T had started running cars up to Troy in October 1901.
A number of other events also contributed to the deteriorating relationship between the D & T and the Troy officials. The D & T was unable to complete a physical connection to the Miami Valley Electric Railway because of the so called Troy city line and the South Market Street bridge crossing the Miami-Erie Canal plus the required destruction of several blocks of shade trees which lined South Market Street south of the business district in order to make a physical connection with the M V. The 1893 construction of the M V saw several trees removed along the streets of Troy to the chagrin of the residents, an incident not soon forgotten.
As the situation stood at the start up of the D & T operations in August 1901, the electric cars moved between Tippecanoe and Dye Mill Road on the southern edge of Troy while construction continued from that point along the McKaig ditch up to the Big Four Railroad. The first Troy station for the D & T was opened in a house at 731 S. Market Street, at the corner of West Market and West Streets and it was opened in November, 1901. In order to compensate for this loss of physical connection, a free hack service was offered from the public square to the south end of town in order to make the connection.
By early December in 1901, cars were running through from the south corporation of Troy to Vandalia every hour while finishing touches were put on the line south of Vandalia and at the Miami River bridge on the north side of Dayton, which opened on Dec. 19, 1901.
The lack of resolution over the entry into Troy and connection with the M V came to a head in 1902 with the D & T planning a surprise entry into Troy and up Market street. Quietly the line built several pre-fabricated panels of track at the Tippecanoe shops and loaded then onto flat cars along with power poles, overhead wire, piles of rock and barrels. At the planned time, late in the night. The work train and gangs of men arrived at the south edge of Troy and set straight to the task of completing the gap in tracks between the D & T and M V, a distance of a few hundred feet. All that night the work gangs laid the track panels on the street, put the poles into the barrels filled with rocks and strung the overhead power wire. The residents were unable to secure a court injunction and when the residents awoke the next morning they found D & T cars sitting on the public square. Several trees fell victim to the construction, pouring salt into the open wounds of local residents and again the line faced several damage suits from the residents along South Market Street. The tracks eventually became permanent and the suits were settled.
As the year 1904 opened, the D & T announced it would build a new passenger and express station on South Market Street in Troy near the Canal. The office on West Main Street being sold. On May 19, the new union depot was opened in Troy, ending a few years of depot hopping for Troy citizens. In 1905 the Springfield Troy & Piqua Railway also moved into the facility. Power generating facilities were based in Tippecanoe until 1920 when Dayton Power and Light began providing electric for the cars.
The D& T operated reliable passenger and freight service through Troy until Aug. 10, 1932, when all service was abandoned during the collapse of the interurban railway systems across Ohio.
The last electric railway to build into Troy was the Springfield, Troy and Piqua Railway. It was built from Springfield to Troy, entering the town on North Market Street. The first car arrived in Troy July 14, 1904. They did not initially have a bridge to achieve downtown Troy directly, and operated with a hack service across the river until their bridge could be completed.
The 150 foot bridge was constructed, starting June 5, 1905 and handled the first car into downtown Troy on August 11. Passenger were then handled out of the joint station built on South Market Street by the Dayton & Tory Electric Railway. With the arrival of their tracks, the entire face of the Troy Public Square was changed. They installed a double track in the middle of North Market Street from the river bridge to the Square. The D & T then extended its second track west on Main Street, breaking the area into a series of small islands.
Their power station was located at Maitland, on the northwest side of Springfield. A substation was located at Casstown to provide current to the west end of the line. The line was marginal, it did not pass through any major towns and struggled until service was abandoned on October 23, 1920.
It was a very early line to abandon interurban service in Ohio.