Part 3 - Bryan to Sandusky
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#20a
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AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #20a -- Chicago, Illinois to Buffalo, New York

mileage

180    BRYAN station, Paige & Lynn Streets.  Elevation approximately 774 ft.  Bryan is the county seat of Williams County.  The Capitol Ltd does not stop at Bryan; however, the Lake Shore Ltd stops here.  Bryan was settled in 1840 and incorporated as a village in 1841.  It was reincorporated as a city in 1941.  It was named after the Honorable John A. Bryan, a judge and also Ohio Secretary of State.  At one time, Bryan was known as the “Fountain City,” after its many artesian wells.  Lester’s Diner, built here in the 1960’s, is believed to be the inspiration for “Mel’s Diner,” from the 1970’s sitcom “Alice.”

          The 40+ mile stretch of nearly curveless railroad track between here and the western suburbs of Toledo is known as the “air line.”

182    Cross Beaver Creek.  Between here and Maumee, we will be crossing a very flat landscape, which is composed of glacial lake deposits (see MP 187 below).

186.5 Cross Tiffin River, a tributary of the Maumee River which begins just north of the Michigan state line and flows south into the Maumee.

187   Pass through Stryker, named after New York lawyer and founder of the Michigan Southern Railroad Company, John Stryker.  The village of Stryker was surveyed on September 19, 1853 by John H. Sargent, Epaphras L. Barber and Jesse McCart, and the town was organized on March 30, 1835 by James Guthrie, the first settler in the township and in the county.

         Between here and Toledo, we will continue to cross a very flat glacial lake plain, which marks the bottom of a Pleistocene-aged lake. During the Pleistocene Ice Age, the great lakes were much more extensive than they are now.  Toward the end of the Pleistocene and the end of the latest Wisconsin glaciation, the ice sheets began to melt and the lakes in this area were dammed by the Fort Wayne Moraine.  During this period, some water was able to escape the lake and flow into the pre-glacial Wabash River valley in Indiana. The ancient lake plain is now occupied by rivers such as the Tiffin and the Maumee.

191    Enter FULTON County, named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat.  The county was established on February 28, 1850.  The county seat is Wauseon.

193    Pass through Archbold, most likely derived from the nicknames of two engineers who came through town, one man named “Arch,” and the other named “Bald.”  The village was settled in 1838 by George Ditto, and incorporated in 1866. It is one of the oldest towns in Fulton County, and located in the midst of a rich agricultural region, containing fertile soils of the glacial lake beds which cover much of the region.

          Archbold is the home of the Sauder Barn and Craft Village, which features restored early 20th Century buildings and a farm.  Erie J. Sauder was the inventor of "knock-down" ready-to-assemble furniture.  Archbold is also the home of Northwest State Community College, and was designated a Tree City, U.S.A., by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

195    Cross Brush Creek.

197    Pass through Pettisvile, founded by John Dyer is 1857.  The town was named after a fellow named Mr. Pettis, who was a grading subcontractor for the railroad here.

          This area is the approximate location of a drainage divide between the Maumee River-Lake Erie Basin on the east and the St. Joseph River drainage basin on the west.

201-203 Pass through Wauseon, the county seat of Fulton County.  It was named after a Pottawattomi Indian Chief.  The first white settler was John Newcomer, who came here in 1844.  The town was founded in 1854 by New York Central Railroad surveyors J.H. Sargent and E.L,. Barber. The city was incorporated in 1857.  Wauseon was the home of legendary race car driver Barney Oldfield.

206    We are continuing to cross glacial lake bed sediments from Lake Maumee.

207.5 Pass a small steel manufacturing facility on the left (eastbound).

208   We have now crossed some beach ridges from glacial Lake Whittlesey, an older version of glacial Lake Maumee, although the beach ridges are not discernible from the railroad here.

209-210 Pass through Delta, incorporated in 1863.  The town was originally known as Six Mile Woods.  The origin of the name is not clearly understood.  One theory states that the town is named after the path of Bad Creek, which is thought to have a shape resembling a Greek “delta” letter (?) as it flows through town, and another says the name Delta means “fertile valley.”  Supposedly the downtown business area of Delta was never platted, but staked out in various-sized lots which were sold to purchasers in whatever size was desired.

210    Delta Wings Airport is visible on the right (eastbound).

211    Cross Swan Creek, a tributary of the Maumee River.

215    Pass through Swanton, an agricultural community.  Swanton was incorporated in 1883, and is named after Swan Creek, which flows through town.  Reportedly, early settlers in the area spotted a group of cranes in the creek, and thought they were swans, thus the name of the creek. Swanton is the home of Swanton Memorial Park, which contains one of E. M. Viquesney's "Spirit of the American Doughboy" statues. The sculpture was one of several donated as a gift by France to U.S. cities that had lost many soldiers during World War I.  The city is also the home of the annual Corn Festival in late August.

215.5 Enter LUCAS County, named after Robert Lucas, the 12th Governor of Ohio.  In 1835, Lucas declared war on the neighboring State of Michigan over a boundary dispute.  Due to mistakes in the original surveys of the area, a 468 square mile strip in northern Lucas County, along the Michigan border, known as the Toledo Strip, was claimed by both Michigan and Ohio as theirs.  After a 2-year period, the ownership of the Toledo Strip was finally compromised, after a “battle” with no military casualties.  Michigan thought they had lost, since they no longer had Toledo as a Great Lakes port city, but shortly after the Toledo War, iron ore, copper, and plentiful timber were discovered in what is now Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which offset any losses the State had experienced in the Toledo Strip.

         On August 20, 1794, near the present-day town of Maumee, American forces led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne won a decisive victory over Indian forces at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, in Lucas County. The battle opened the entire Northwest Territory for white settlement.

         Toledo is the Lucas County seat and largest city.

219-219.5 Pass an abandoned quarry on the right (eastbound).  This quarry was developed in the Detroit River Formation, a limestone formation of Devonian age (deposited approximately 400 million years ago). We are now on the southern edge of then Michigan Basin, a large structural downwarp of sedimentary rocks of Silurian through Pennsylvanian age (440 to 280 million years ago), whose center is located north of here, in Michigan, beneath glacial deposits.

219.5 Pass beneath Ohio Turnpike, Interstate 80/90.  On the right (eastbound) sis the Toledo Express Airport, a joint civil-military airport. It opened in 1955, and serves both passenger and cargo airplanes.  It is the home of the Ohio National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing.  It only serves a couple passenger airlines.

222    Pass through Crissey, possibly named after Josiah Cressy, an early Township Clerk.  We are continuing to cross the ancient lake plain of glacial Lake Maumee.

224-225 Pass through Holland, which was originally called Drakes, then Hardy.  The current name is most likely from Franklin Hall, an early builder in the area, who, when he platted the land, asked for it to be called “Hall Land,” named after himself, but a clerical error likely resulted in the town being called Holland instead.  In the 1860’s, homes were built in the area by Hall, who developed the land south of the railroad, and Robert Clark, who developed the land north of the railroad.  The town was incorporated in 1924.

225.5 Pass beneath U.S. 23/I-475, a highway bypass around Toledo.

231.5 We are now at the eastern end of the 40+ mile “Air Line” section of straight track (see MP 180 above).  The rail yard on the left (eastbound) was at one time much more extensive than it is now.

232.5 Cross Swan Creek again.

233.5 TOLEDO station, 415 Emerald Plaza.  Elevation approximately 589 ft.  Toledo is the county seat of Lucas County, and was named after the city in Spain.  The city was founded in 1833 as part of Monroe County, Michigan, but then re-founded in 1837, at the conclusion of the Toledo War (see MP 215.5 above).

         A French trading post was built near here in 1680, but the area was first settled by Europeans in 1795, after the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the final battle of the Northwest Indian War, a struggle between American Indian tribes affiliated with the Western Confederacy, against the United States for control of the Northwest Territory (an area bounded on the south by the Ohio River, on the west by the Mississippi River, and on the northeast by the Great Lakes).  The battle, which was a decisive victory for the United States, ended major hostilities in the region for a while.  In 1818, Port Lawrence was established at the mouth of Swan Creek in what is now the downtown area, approximately ½ mile north of the AMTRAK station.  From 1825 to 1845, the Miami and Erie Canal was then constructed between Toledo and Cincinnati.  This canal included part of what is now the Maumee River, and because of the canal;, many settlements along the north bank of the canal grew and flourished.  Since the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal (later the Wabash and Erie Canal), Toledo has become a city well known for its industry, particularly in glass and auto assembly.

         In 1836, the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad came through town as the fist railroad built west of the Allegheny Mountains.

         The discovery of oil and natural gas south of Toledo encouraged the development of the glass industry, which required large amount of fuel.  Toledo is today a major refining center also.  The city today is a manufacturing, commercial, and educational center.

          Toledo is the site of the Fallen Timbers Monument, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Botanical Garden, and Wildwood Manor House, a home which features 18th Century Georgian architectural style.  The house was the home of Champion Spark Plug founder Robert A. Strannahan.  Toledo is also the home of feminist Gloria Steinem, Crystal Bowersox, runner-up on Season 9 of American Idol, actor Jamie Farr, of the television show “M.A.S.H.”, Danny Thomas, writer Mildred D. Taylor, and football coach Urban Meyer.  Toledo was also the subject of a controversial song by John Denver entitled “Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio,” which recounts a time when songwriter Randy Sparks and the New Christy Minstrels arrived in Toledo at 10 PM on a Saturday night, when everything was closed.  Toledo was also the hometown of fictional character Maxwell Klinger, of “M.A.S.H.” fame.

234.5 Cross Maumee River, thee longest river which flows into Lake Erie.  The Maumee begins near Fort Wayne, Indiana, and flows northeasterly into Lake Erie.  The Maumee River watershed was once part of the Great Black Swamp, a remnant of glacial Lake Maumee, the proglacial ancestor of Lake Erie.  The 1500 square mile swamp was a vast network of forests, wetlands, and grasslands.  During the 19th Century, settlers struggled to drain the swamp and to convert the land to farmland.

         Downtown Toledo can be seen ahead of the train on the left (westbound).

235-236 Pass through Oregon.  The town’s name was suggested by Pierce Irving, a nephew of author Washington Irving, who named the town after the Oregon River, which was an alternate name for the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.  The name “Oregon” is said to be an Indian word meaning “river of the West,” and the Toledo area was the Gateway to the West after the Northwest Territory was acquired by the federal government.

         Maumee Bay State Park is located near here, in which a portion of the original Great Black Swamp forest and topography are preserved (see MP 234.5 above).

236    Enter WOOD County, named after Capt. Eleazer D. Wood, the engineer under General William Henry Harrison, who built Fort Meigs, a military post on the Maumee River.  The county seat is Bowling Green.

         South of the railroad (right if eastbound) is an abandoned quarry, which likely produced from the Silurian-aged Greenfield and Lockport Dolomite formations.  There were at one time many such quarries in the Toledo area; however, most of them are now abandoned.

         We are still traversing the very flat glacial lake plain of ancestral Lake Maumee.

238    Pass beneath Interstate 280. a bypass route around the Toledo Metropolitan area.  On the right (eastbound) is the Village of Walbridge, a suburb of Toledo.

241.5 Pass through Millbury, which was surveyed in 1864 and incorporated in 1874.  The name of the town was decided by a coin toss, between two names suggested by the citizens; Millbury, in reference to a town between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, and Mark Lane, an English grain market.  The name Millbury won.  On June 5, 2010, an EF4 tornado tore through the town, destroying at least 50 homes and killing 7 people.

          At the east end of town is another small abandoned quarry on the right (eastbound), which formerly produced stone from Silurian aged limestone and dolomite.  The quarry is now a park.

242    Enter OTTAWA County, named after the Ottawa Indian tribe who lived in this area.  The word “Ottawa” means “traders” in the Indian language, and the Ottawa Indians were known to be traders of many items.  This county is located in the Great Black Swamp area (see MP 234.5 above).  On September 10, 1813, during the War of 1812, 9 vessels of the United States Navy under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, decisively defeated 6 vessels of Great Britain’s Royal Navy in the Battle of Lake, Erie near Put-in-Bay, off the Lake Erie coast of the county.  The county was formed on March 6, 1840.  The county seat is Port Clinton.

244.5 Pass through Clay Center, named after either Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky, or after the numerous deposits of clay found in the area.  The community is also the center of Clay Township.  The community was incorporated in 1947.  In the northern part of town, barely visible from the train on the left (eastbound) is a quarry which produces stone and aggregate from the Silurian-aged Lockport Dolomite, which sometimes occurs with very fine particles, thus the name “clay” for the area.  The Clay Center quarry has yielded very good specimens of the minerals celestite, calcite, and fluorite, in addition to large Silurian-aged reef-dwelling clam shells, known as “beef hearts.”

246    Cross South Branch of Turtle Creek and pass through Martin, a small agricultural town named after Franklin H. Martin, an early resident of the area.  We are still crossing very flat lake bed deposits from glacial Lake Maumee.

249    Pass through the unincorporated community of Elliston, likely named after An R. Ellis, an early landowner.  The community may have originally been known as “Ellis Town.”

250    Pass through Graytown, another small unincorporated community, reportedly named after the gray color of the Silurian-aged limestone deposits in the area.

253   Pass through Rocky Ridge, again named after the limestone observed in the area.  The 236-acre Toussaint Creek Wildlife Area is located approximately 4 miles northeast of Rocky Ridge, on the Toussaint River.

         We are still traveling across glacial lake bed deposits.

256-256.5 Pass through Oak Harbor, which was platted in 1835 and incorporated in 1871.  It was named after the abundance of oak trees in the area, and its proximity to harbors and shipping at the mouth of the Portage River at Lake Erie.  The town was originally named Hartford, but since there were 3 other Hartfords in Ohio, the post office requested a name change.

          Oak Harbor is home to the annual Apple Festival, which occurs in early October.  Many apple related events are scheduled including the "Apple Run," which is a 5 kilometer race on the Sunday of the festival.  It is also the location of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, one of two nuclear power plants in Ohio.

261.5 Pass through Lacarne, located on the Portage River,.  It was named during the late 1700’s by early French-Canadian settlers and trappers, and is sometimes spelled La Carne.  During World War 2, a P.O.W. Camp was located in nearby Camp Perry, a U.S. Army facility.

          The Little Portage River flows into the Portage River just south of town, and at the confluence of the 2 rivers is the 257-acre Little Portage Wildlife Area.

264    Pass beneath Ohio Highway 2, a major east-west route in northern Ohio.

265-266 Cross the wide Portage River.  Lake Erie is visible on the left (eastbound), across the sand spit.  The Portage River is a relatively short river, beginning southwest of here in Wood County.  Many of the Portage’s tributaries developed as the Great Black Swamp (see MP 234.5 above) was drained, as mandated by the Ohio Legislature.

267-268 Pass through Port Clinton, the Ottawa County Seat, located on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Portage River.  The city was named after former New York Governor De Witt Clinton, who was also responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal in New York State.  Clinton also proposed the construction of the Sandusky-Scioto Canal, which would have been built from the mouth of the Portage River south to the Ohio River at Cincinnati.  That canal was never built, however.

         The community was platted in 1828, but was not incorporated until 1852.

          Port Clinton is a tourist community now, and also a suburban community to Toledo and Sandusky.  It has been nicknamed the “Walleye Capital of the World,“ and each year, the city holds a “Walleye drop,” commemorating the new year as well as the boating and fishing industries.

          At the present time, Port Clinton is becoming one of Ohio’s most distinctive lakeshore communities by providing the vision, leadership, and performance standards which allow for managed growth and development.

268.5 Pass beneath Ohio Highway 2 again.

270-271 Pass a couple large gypsum mines visible on the right (eastbound), and pass through the town of Gypsum, named after the gypsum mines.  The gypsum mines were first operated in 1821, and the gypsum was first used for fertilizer, plaster, and plasterboard.  The gypsum is mined from the Salina Group, of Silurian age. Gypsum is calcium sulfate, and forms when dissolved mineral salts in sea water are concentrated, then left behind when the water evaporates over a long period of time during warmer, dryer climates.  For this reason, gypsum and similar minerals are known as evaporite minerals.

         North of here, in Lake Erie, are the Lake Erie Islands, which are composed of Middle Devonian-aged limestone and dolomite (approximately 380 million years old) overlain by glacial deposits.  Kelleys Island, the southernmost of the Lake Erie Islands, is known for its giant glacial striations which developed across large exposed areas of limestone and dolomite as the glaciers receded north at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation.

273    Pass through Danbury, named after Danbury, Connecticut, by early settlers.

273-275 Cross Sandusky Bay, an arm of Lake Erie.  Two highway bridges are visible to the west of the railroad (right if eastbound). Sandusky Bay is a drowned river valley, created at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation, when the ice sheets melted, and the water released flowed south into the valley of the pore0-glacial Sandusky River

274    Enter ERIE County, named after the Erie Indians, also the namesake of Lake Erie.  The word Erie means “wildcats” in Native languages.  The county was created in 1838, and the county seat is Sandusky.

275    Pass through the community of Bay Bridge, located at the south end of the Sandusky Bay bridge.  To the right (eastbound) is Bay View, which consists mostly of summer homes on Sandusky Bay. The town was incorporated in 1951.

277.5 Pass through Venice, located on Lake Erie.  The town was named after Venice, Italy. The community is now part of Sandusky.  In the past, a small quarry south of the railroad was used to quarry Devonian-aged Columbus Limestone, a stone with a bluish-gray tint, often known as Sandusky bluestone.”  This stone was used to build the Erie County courthouse in Sandusky.  The quarry is no longer active, and is now filled with water.

281    SANDUSKY station, 1200 N. Depot Street.  Elevation approximately 596.  Sandusky is the county seat of Erie County.  Prior to European settlement, Sandusky was the home of the Wyandot Native American people, who called the place “saandusti,” which meant either “water in water pools,” or “at the cold water.”  The city was founded in 1818, and was previously known as Ogontz or “Ogantz’s Place,” in reference to a well-known Native American who lived here.  In the 1850’s, the town was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, which brought many escaped slaves from the South to freedom across Lake Erie into Canada.

         On September 17, 1963, Sandusky was the site of ground breaking fro the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad.  Battery Park Marina, on Lake Erie in the northern part of the city, is located on the site of the original M.R. & L.E. Railroad.  In 1842, British author Charles Dickens visited Sandusky and wrote about it in his travelogue entitled “American Notes.”  The following day, Dickens departed for Buffalo by steamer.

          Today Sandusky is a major coal-shipping port, a fishing center, and a manufacturing hub for processed food, paper gods, machinery, motor vehicle parts, aluminum recycling, artist supplies, and building materials.  It is also a major tourism center in northwestern Ohio, with easy access to fishing and boating in Lake Erie, and it is a gateway to the Lake Erie Islands.

          Sandusky is probably best known as the location of the world-renowned Cedar Point Amusement Park, thought of by many fun-seekers as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” containing 17 major roller coasters, including the 2013 “Gatekeeper,” which is the tallest, fastest, longest, and steepest roller coaster in the world.  Other major coasters include 1964’s Blue Streak, the first roller coaster in the park, in addition to Corkscrew, Raptor, Gemini, and Millennium Force.

               Sandusky is also the home of the Firelands Winery the Merry-Go-Round Museum, and Goofy Golf, which, in addition to 2 mini-golf courses, also features 3 Go Kart tracks, bumper boats, and air-conditioned arcades.  Seasonal ferry service is also offered from downtown to the Lake Erie Islands such as Kelleys Island, South, Middle, and North Bass Island.  The tourist town of Put-in-Bay is located on South Bass Island, and is a very popular destination.
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