BELLVILLE — Fritz Ackerman wore his B & O Railroad pin this week when he spoke to the Bellville-Jefferson Township Historical Society about the train activity that ran through Bellville before the tracks were torn up to make the Bike Trail in 1987.
Ackerman seldom goes before an audience without his guitar, and sure enough he had a railroad song the group. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” reminded us of the great effort to build and the vast changes brought by the railroad.
The railroad was considered a necessary evil in town as it brought passengers and goods to and from Bellville. Gatton Rocks had its own stop to bring vacationers to the resort cabins there. Produce went to market. The belching steam engines were important to the bustle of our little town in the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century.
When Ackerman encouraged members to share their memories, Dick Brokaw said that he worked for the railroad. Paul Snyder said that he accompanied his father, the patriarch of the Snyder Funeral Homes, to the train depot to retrieve the remains of a soldier killed in World War II.
Once a year the train to Cedar Point carried passengers up and back for one dollar. If you missed the train back, you were out of luck. Then there were the train wrecks in the area. Sept. 5, 1972 a wreck occurred near Main Street. A second wreck was in early morning Nov. 5, 1900. Within the lifetime of some members were a couple wrecks; one wreck down close to the current school board offices occurred in 1952.
Michelle Swank preceded Ackerman with a presentation encouraging everyone to support the Dayspring levy renewal in the upcoming election. Her presentation included a slide show of the past history and current activities of Dayspring residents. Susan Stahl accompanied Ms. Swank and renewed her friendships with members.
The next Bellville Jefferson Township Historical Society meeting will be May 21. Ackerman will talk about the secret societies in the area, especially the Ku Klux Klan. He has researched this topic for a number of years and his talk promises to be informative. Yes, he will bring his guitar, and yes he has a song about the topic.
Membership is not necessary to attend the meeting. Everyone is welcome. We are still looking for informative talks on local history. If you or someone you know has a subject, call Lynn at 419-295-0680 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.