Very interesting historical article in ThisWeekNews last week worthy of a read for fans of rail transit:
Railroad brought changes to city life in central Ohio
Thursday, December 6, 2007
In December 1825, James Kilbourn, a leading citizen of Worthington, wrote a letter to the editor of the Ohio State Journal in Columbus. Kilbourn reported that “By the lucid reports of the Committee of the British Parliament and their Board of Engineers, it is manifest that railroads are altogether preferable to canals at any time, and can be used at all times, as well in winter as summer.” In some later letters, Kilbourn called for “the adoption of this system of internal improvements…”
As in many other things, James Kilbourn was slightly ahead of his time.
It was not until the 1830s that railroads began to be taken seriously in Ohio. Part of the reason for this was the early success of Ohio’s canal system. Also, the problems associated with moving a steam boiler along a set of rather shaky tracks took a while to solve.
But by the early 1840s, many people had come to the conclusion that Kilbourn had been right. Now everyone wanted a railroad. Some of the roads were only proposed to be a few miles long. Others were planned to cross the entire state. But any one with any spare money at all inevitably looked at a railroad — or two — as an investment possibility.
A later historian noted in passing that by the end of the 1800s, no less than 82 railroads had been proposed to pass through Columbus. Their total capital pledged to construction and operation was in excess of $112-million dollars.