|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
The historic meeting of five railroads in one spot on the Indiana/Ohio border in 1852 created a sensation and two towns, one in Indiana, the other just across the State Line in Ohio.
Meeting in the Forest
Businessmen from several states met in the forests of Indiana in 1849 at a spot near the Ohio border to decide the fate of the rail system of the Great Northwestern group of states. During this meeting the historic Bee Line sprang into existence with O. H. Smith named president. Indiana, which had only one rail line at the time, would have five rail lines meeting at the same spot within three years.
The men at the meeting agreed that two companies would complete construction of a line that ran from Bellefontaine, Ohio to the spot in the wilderness that they had met. Another company would build a line running from Indianapolis to the same location, thus the two rail lines would meet, connecting Indianapolis with Bellefontaine. This railroad would be called the Indianapolis & Bellefontaine.
The Indianapolis & Bellefontaine had double tracks. It would eventually connect Indianapolis with Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becoming the Indianapolis, Pittsburgh & Cleveland in the process. The line again changed names, becoming the Bellefontaine, or more simply, the Bee Line. This line went through more name changes, finally becoming part of the Penn Central system.
Two other companies, one in Indiana and one in Ohio, were also planning to build two railroads that would meet at this spot. One would extend from Columbus, Ohio, the other from Logansport, Indiana. Thus, four rail lines would meet at this lonely spot in the wilderness.
Another company had planned a line that would run from Dayton, Ohio to Greenville, Ohio, which was just a few miles from the spot that the four rail lines would meet. They decided to extend their line to intersect the other lines, thus five rail lines would meet at this lonely spot.
One of the railroads promoters, a man named Jeremiah Smith, figured the spot at the junction of the five lines would be a good spot to locate a town. So, on December 19, 1848 he purchased 160 acres of virgin forest at the junction point and platted a town. He recorded the plat on December 17, 1849. The original plat contained 252 lots and gave the railroads a right of way in return for a perpetual promise to stop at the new town forever, to be called Union. This plat was later changed to include smaller lots and the number of lots increased to 483. New arrivals began coming into the town. Some favored a spot a short distance to the east, across the Ohio State Line. At this spot, a small settlement already existed and the Deerfield Road crossed the new line. Fearing his town would spill over into Ohio, something he did not desire, he purchased an additional forty acres along the state line and left it undeveloped until 1870. By then, Union, Indiana was established and he didn't fear his Indiana town would become an Ohio town.
The First Passenger Line Passes Through
The first train to reach Union was on Christmas Day, 1852. The first passenger train to pass through from Bellefontaine, Ohio to Indianapolis, Indiana arrived on January 24, 1853. The knitting together of the Northwestern States by rail was under way.
Union City, Ohio maintains a park called Railroad Park that occupies the spot that the original train depot stood. Union City, Indiana maintains the Union City Preservation Society Museum in a restored hotel near the site of the passenger depot.
For more information about Union City, Indiana and Union City, Ohio, visit this link.
Union City, Indiana
105 N. Columbia St.
Union City, IN
Union City, Ohio
419 E. Elm St.
Union City, OH
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning