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Wooster Digital History Project

The Origins of OARDC

Charles E. Thorne, OARDC's First Director 1887-1921

Charles E. Thorne started working at the OAES as a foreman right after graduating college. When he noticed the station was not near as large or successful as it could have been (mostly due to its location in Columbus), the young man started sharing his opinions with the administrative board. They approved of Thorne's grand visions and passion for the OAES and hired him as that station's first full-time director in 1887. 


Then the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act in 1862. This provided each state with 630,000 acres of land to establish an agricultural or mechanical college.3 The revenue from the sale of those acres funded the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College founded in Columbus in 1870. However, this college soon declared its educational focus to be on the liberal arts over agriculture and was renamed the Ohio State University (OSU).4 To maintain an agricultural connection, OSU established the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station in 1882 as a part of campus. By 1892, the financial and spatial resources offered to the station in Columbus were wearing thin.In response, the current Director, Charles Thorne, consider moving the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station to a town with more land and a rich history with agriculture- Wooster, OH.5


1  Christopher Cumo and R.E. Whitmoyer. Seeds of Change: A History of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Wooster Book, 2000), 2.
Douglas R. Hurt, Indiana Magazine of History 82, no. 3 (1986), 292-93.
3 R.E. Whitmoyer, “A Brief History of OARDC,” Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, accessed 2013.
4 Cumo, 4.
5 Sue Gorisek, "The Wizards of Wooster: Bill Krauss is recording 102 years of agricultural miracles on The Farm in Wooster", Ohio Magazine, January 1985, 71.