As history recorded it
So far I haven't unearthed too much in the way of written narrative.
Anyhow, the first column below recounts a published history of the line, written by Beulah Jones.
She also authored the article in the second column dealing with railroads in Meigs County. I'm guessing these were written in the 1980s.
|The clang, clang of the trolley wasn't confined to St Louis
back in an era when everyone wasn't in such a hurry to get places. It
might seem incredible to present residents of Pomeroy, Middleport and
up-river communities Syracuse, Minersville and Racine, but these villages
were served by a street car line. The cars were a common site from around
1900 until 1929 when they were shoved aside by the advent of the
automobile and the building of the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge.
Mrs. Gertrude Mitchell of Pomeroy has much of the street car line era in her past as her father, Ray C. Smith, was a conductor and two uncles, Cal Stowe and Hayes Roush worked on the cars.
The open-type car was used in summer and was not just a mode of travel but provided many a Sunday outing and ride along the Ohio River. As with trains and boats, the cars were referred to as "she" and as a common refrain one heard "She'll be along any minute" or "we'll catch her at the corner." Sunday afternoons were for a boy and girl, the street car, a bag of popcorn, a chance to ride from Middleport and Pomeroy all the way to Racine, lunch as the Cooper House, a hotel there, and the ride back.
Among the motormen were Wilbur Logan, Eddie Hoeflich, Herman Warner, Roy Kasper, Ernest Lallance and many others. The car line had its beginning as the P&M Railway & Power Co. around 1900 since the survey of the county in 1899 for the power company was made according to a map owned by Kasper. The cars were dark yellow and numbered 20 to 27. [Most likely the Cincinnati curved siders.]
The line ran from Hobson train depot to Gravel Hill area, Up Second Street in Middleport, through Pomeroy and up to Racine where it stopped at the Drake Hotel. There were few automobiles, and roads were not the best, so coal miners and railroad employees rode the cars to and from work.
Conductors sometimes had to wear dusters over uniforms because of the crowd of miners riding home covered with coal dust. Many persons up river rode the cars down to Roedel corner where they caught a band or hay wagon for a ride to the county fairgrounds. The cars were run on a one hour and 20 minute schedule and Critt Bradford, Meigs County auctioneer, tells of riding cars from Racine to Middleport where he was attending Normal School. There were baggage cars with freight being hauled only at night with an electric motor called a dummy used to carry the car.
The car line had troubles as some jumped the track, and some schedules got mixed up and caused smashups. College boys crowding into a phone booth wouldn't have bothered Kasper and the others who remembered when his car once held 152 persons with some handing on the sides while he walked on the seat backs to collect tickets. Since it cost almost $2.00 for a taxi ride to Pomeroy from Middleport, the street car ticket of five cents or 14 cents to Hobson would appear a bargain.
The cars had advertising on the sides inside. In order to catch a train for Columbus one had to talk to the corner stop by 2 a.m. and wait for the car. The car barn still stand today on West Main Street back of Midwest Steel Corporation. [Although the 1908 maps show the barn a block further down river and adjacent to the street.] But street cars left with the great depression and were put out to pasture, some going to Louisville, Kentucky, and others to cities where they went on with their work. It was the end of an era and a way of life and the beginning of out desperate struggle with the automobile.
|Changes in transportation in Ohio since the 1900's are
readily seen on a map of railroads and electric railways crisscrossing Ohio
in 1908. Southern Ohio, especially Meigs County, has had its past shaped
by the railroads which provide lucrative jobs for men in families, and,
during the war years, for some women. Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia communities were served with ample passenger service by the Baltimore and
Ohio traveling from Parkersburg, Athens, and Coolville, and the Chesapeake
and Ohio and New York Central traveling between Columbus and Charleston,
Hobson Yards was the terminal for the merged railroads that eventually became the New York Central, later becoming Penn Central and now Conrail. Hobson fed trains from Virginia and Columbus and to the Great Lakes where ore and coal were products to be delivered. The lines from Lake Michigan and Lake Erie down through Virginia were the shortest routes. The Penn Central Railroad evolved from several business transactions. The Hobson area was first served by the K&M (Kanawha and Michigan) which evolved when the River Division of Ohio Central Railroad was old under foreclosure in 1885 and operated as the Ohio and Kanawha. It was reorganized as the Kanawha and Ohio, later to become the Toledo and Ohio Central Railway in 1890.
The Hobson terminal employed about 800 at one time in the roundhouse and shops and with trainmen on the lines totaled more than 1600 persons. Passenger and freight service was provided. Freight trains carried coal, perishables, chemicals and feed. A large part of the revenue from the railroads was the mail which was taken by street car from Pomeroy and vicinity to Hobson and was unloaded at every stop, along with coffins and anything else delivered by mail.
Hobson yards today is a deserted place with only one building for trainmen making the trips today on Conrail. The car shops are gone, the roundhouse, the ice house where ice was put aboard cabooses, the home away from home for the conductor and crew.
In 1953 the end of an era for the steam engine ushered in the bright, new diesel and the two giants were placed side by side as the engineers exchanged places. On Jan. 14, 1953 Lawrence Milhoan brought steamer 6351 into the yards as the sleek diesel triple unit 1693 was preparing for its first run with engineer Elmer Esterling.
But even new equipment has note made the future rosy for railroads. They have to compete not only with trucks and cars but now with jet planes.