(The following was written by Earl Nicholson and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)
The railroad had come to Grove City in March of 1884. By 1890 there was a daily Commuter Train each day, otherwise all transportation was a horse-drawn vehicle of some kind. Mister Adam Grant of Grove City and Joseph Briggs of Briggsdale tried to change all of that!
The Interurbans, by definition, were rail transportation systems between two or more towns and villages. These systems probably started as extensions of trolley lines between cities located close to each other. Interurbans were known by many different names such as Street Railways, Light Railways and Interurbans. The cars, until about 1915, were made of wood. The interurban car could travel faster across the open country then could the trolley on a village street. These cars needed to be more powerful both because of the faster speed and on longer trips the passengers expected a more comfortable ride.
The interurban line typically ran alongside the road but within the right-of-way controlled by the state or county government. Within the towns and villages the interurban company had to negotiate with these local governments to operate on the streets and roads. Typically the interurban line would run down the middle of the street within the town then run alongside the road between the towns. It was not uncommon for the interurban cars to run 60 to 70 miles an hour. (I can remember as a child going with my family to Springfield and see the dark red “Red Devils” going along open farmland at a much faster speed than we could on U.S. Route 40.)
In 1889 the first electric powered interurban in the United States ran in Ohio. It ran, in central Ohio, between Norwalk and Newark. It was typically the interurban that first brought electricity to the countryside. It was the Interurban that also first provided the farmer with a way to ship milk and other perishable produce to market quickly.
(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)