Negotiating a Railway
Americans had laid down 9,000 miles of track for railroads in the 1840's, and as the decade came to a close, they showed no signs of letting up.1 The Pennsylvania & Ohio Railway Company sought to connect Pittsburgh's manufacturing centers to Chicago's lead mines, making plans for a railway line that would stretch across the Appalachians. Along the way, the line would connect small Ohio villages, giving them easy transportation to nearby markets, as well as far-off cities such as Pittsburgh and Chicago.2 Every town wanted to be a part of the network, and every town needed to be a part of it to compete with their neighbors.3
Wooster began fighting for a railway to come through its borders as early as 1850. City leaders knew that with a depot, Wooster would be the hub for any and all freight travelling through Wayne County. A railroad would afford Woosterians the chance to communicate and travel beyond the borders of their town father and faster than ever before. Should Wooster not achieve its goal of getting a railroad, it was certain that business in town would be abandoned in favor of a neighbor that did have a railway.4
The City of Wooster entered into negotiations with the Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad Company in 1850, which was building a line that would one day stretch from Philadelphia to Chicago. Stockholders came to the city later in 1850, and, impressed by its services and strength of character, deemed it fit that the railroad run through Wooster. By 1851, workers were already halfway done laying down the tracks to the small Ohio town.
1 Van Oss, Saloman Frederick. American Railroads and British Investors. (London: Effingham Wilson & Co., 1893), 3.
2 Fishlow, Albert. American Railroads and the Transformation of the Ante-Bellum Economy. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 4.
3 Juchir, Paul. Historic Trolley Tour of Wooster. Performed May 10-12th, 2008.
4 “Wooster and Grafton Rail Road”. Wayne County Democrat. August 19th, 1852. Accessed through Microfilm copy in the Genealogy and History department from Wooster Public Library.