Celebration of 1852
On August 10th of 1852, the final piece of Wooster’s Railroad was pegged into place. Now a part of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago line of the Pennsylvania & Ohio railroad, citizens of Wooster took a day off from their normal duties to celebrate the momentous occasion. A crowd of thousands surrounded the depot that day. A train from Pittsburgh would, in mere hours, soon reach Wooster’s depot, cementing it as the depot for its agrarian neighbors. Town councilors, local farmers, housewives and teachers, carpenters and children, common man and businessman alike all stood at attention, eyes directed at the tracks. From a distance, the whistle of the train bellowed, startling the thousands. Hushed and in silence, they looked on as a towering, mechanical engine drove down the track. Another whistle. The train arrived, and settled in. A great cry of joy erupted from the crowd, and as if on cue, droves of well-dressed travellers poured from the doors of the train. Four hundred travellers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had stepped off of the tracks that day to a crowd of fifteen thousand from Wooster, Ohio.1
The celebrations consumed the rest of the day. A wonderful feast was thrown for the guests of honor. At the toast, General Robinson (the President of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad) thanked the people of Wooster for the hard work and dedication, marking the day as the turning point in Wooster’s history.2
With Wooster’s new railroad came a series of telegraph wires, permitting the townsfolk communication as far east as Pittsburgh, in a matter of minutes. When the Chicago half of the line would be built, livestock would be loaded up on a boxcar and sent directly to the city. Produce from farms would no longer rot in a stagecoach on its way to market. Keeping track of departure and arrival times meant that Wooster now ran on the same time as each and every other town connected through the railroad.3 Newspapers printed departure times, ensuring that all of the townsfolk were up to date about what would come in and out of town. Connected to a larger world than ever before, Wooster had found its niche as a small-town supplier for a big-city America.
1 Rodgers, Thomas L. “Recollections of Early Times on the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad.” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 3 (1920): 3-8.
2 Picturesque Wayne: A History in Text and Engraving. (Akron-Werner Company, 1999), 58-59. Accessed through the Genealogy Department of Wooster Public Library.
3 Churella, Albert J.. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume I: Building an empire, 1846-1917. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).