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100 Years Ago

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Railroad Era - Transportation

An even bigger boost to Sidney, Ohio, as an industrial hub came with the railroads. As early as 1848, local leadership, including Sidney attorney Hugh Thompson, induced a railroad to build an east-west line through Sidney.

The first of two local levies was passed in October of 1848 by the county's voters to help provide construction funds. The Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad connected Sidney to the eastern markets by June of 1853. The Dayton and Michigan Railroad, the north and south route for Sidney goods and passengers, was completed through Shelby County by 1856. Voters also supported use of public funds for construction of this line.

Building railroads was a labor intensive effort. Hundreds of immigrants, including many Irish, came to this area following the progress of the railroad lines. Twelve hundred Irish were then headquartered in Sidney. By the 1870s, railroad tracks crossed the state of Ohio with more building proposed.

Faster, more efficient transportation by rail carried additional risks for Sidney and other towns. Robert Given, owner of R. Given and Sons Tannery, was struck and killed by a train at the Big Four crossing on Ohio Avenue on April 18, 1902. Tragically, his sister Isabella was killed by a Big Four train at the Main Avenue crossing two years earlier. Both were on their way to see their brother, Fred Given. Five years after the death of Mr. Given, another industrialist, C.R. Benjamin, the founder of the Benjamin ‘D’ Handle Company, was struck by a train and seriously injured in downtown Sidney.

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Industry segment written in January, 1998 by Rich Wallace


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