Orrville Today! â€œLook Backâ€? continued from page 20
AA Look Look Back Back
The ďŹ rst train came through the area Aug. 10, 1852, in one of Wayne Countyâ€™s most historic moments. The new town of Orrville grew rapidly as people from neighboring towns that had no railroad ďŹ‚ocked in. Two years later the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad was built through Orrville. Running north and south, it intersected the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad and made Orrville a passenger and freight transfer center. Now area farmers could send their products to markets in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland or Columbus. In addition, they could earn extra money by cutting wood for the railroad. By 1860 the population of Orrville had reached 500, and on May 9, 1964, it was formally incorporated under that name. In 1882 the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad built a line through Orrville, positioned just south of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago tracks. While it offered some passenger service, most of the line was concerned with freight hauling. The real boom in Orrville railroading, however, was still to come. In 1899 the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had taken over the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad in 1869, acquired the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad. As a result, Orrville became a terminal for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and in 1907 a roundhouse was constructed. That structure contained six stalls, with ďŹ ve more added a few years later. Here engines were repaired, tanks were reďŹ lled and coal â€œclinkersâ€? were removed from boilers while frieght was transferred from one line to another. The serving yard in Orrville grew to 17 tracks with a capacity of 386 cars. The railroad depot that was built in 1851 was replaced in 1868 after burning to the ground. Today that depot still exists as a museum thanks to the efforts of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. In its peak years, 20 passenger trains and 42 freight trains passed through Orrville daily. It is said that any time the town had a parade, the procession was invariably separated into numerous sections by passing trains. In 1923 a protracted railroad strike resulted in a consolidation of railroad activities, and the major terminal activities were moved from Orrville to Crestline. During the Great Depression,
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the train and hotel business lagged. The railroad shops and many hotels and restaurants that depended on the railroad for their trade were closed by 1939. Orrvilleâ€™s fortunes as a railroading town were brieďŹ‚y resurrected during World War II when it was selected as a U.S. government storage site, with a huge amount of war materials collected and dispatched from an area just west of the city. After that, however, there was a great decline in railroads because of the advent of the interstate highway system and the growing trucking industry. The cityâ€™s greatest population spurt came between 1900 and 1910, when the census recorded 3,066 people. These 10 years also marked the period of the greatest centralization here of railroad-related activities. In 1950 Orrville became a city, reaching a population of 5,150. Today, with a diversiďŹ ed industrial base, its population hovers around 9,000. Information contained in this article is derived from â€œOrrvile Ohio, Walking Through The Past,â€? by Robert Witmer and Darla Landers, 1999.
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