Street Railroad


Researched by Sharon Milich Kouns

The street railroad was talked about in the early 70’s, however, Ironton did not get one until 1888.

·         IR Oct. 17, 1872 – A street railroad is talked of from Petersburg to Hanging Rock. An estimate made some time since fixed the cost at $45,000.

·         IR Jan. 12, 1888 – ABOUT THE STREET RAILROAD

As will be seen in our Council Notes, the Council evinced no hesitancy in determing to grant S. T. Dunham, of New York, the right of way which he asks to build a street railroad through Ironton.

The ordinance formally granting that right, comes up for consideration at a special meeting of Council tonight.  As submitted by Gen. Enochs, Mr. Dunham’s attorney, it specifies a route for Second street from the corner of Lambert’s machine shop to Adams street, thence on Adams to Third, and along the center of Third street to the corporation line.  The proposed grant is for 25 years.  The limits proposed are five months in which to begin work, the road to be completed by the 1st of next December or the franchise to be void.  It is probable these limits will be cut down somewhat, when the Council passes the ordinance.

Mr. Dunham was in town one day last week and spent the day with W. M. Kerr, to whom he first wrote concerning the street railroad project.  He is a bustling enterprising New Yorker, who speaks freely of his plans and projects, and gives every indication of substantiality, in his dealings.  He represents a syndicate of rich New York capitalists, and has just completed a street railroad at Portsmouth, Va., to which point he went upon leaving here last week.  he is also the moving spirit in a street railroad project at Huntington , which has come up since his first visit to Ironton.  Mr. Dunham says if the franchises are granted, it is his purpose to begin work as soon as the weather will permit, and that the road can be built in 60 days.  Though the proposed ordinance permits either animal, cable, or electric motive power, it is understood the former will be used, (do not have end of this article in my files).

·         IR Jan. 19, 1888 – The County Commissioners met Monday to consider the application for right of way for the street railroad.  They gave it from the corporation line to the fill and bridge over Ice creek, and then the street railroad company must run outside the fill and make their own bridge.  They agree to the use of the river side of the fill providing the inside rail is not nearer than 10 feet to the center, and will allow the company to use the present bridge abutments for the street railroad bridge.  By these concessions, the street railroad could get beyond Ice creek without serious expense.  On the road above and below, the center of the road is allowed the company.

·         IR Apr. 19, 1888 – Street Railroad – At the last meeting of the City Council, a resolution was passed requiring Mr. Dunham to show why he had not begun work on the street railroad in accordance with the stipulations of his franchise which ended April 1st.  Mr. Dunham has been notified of this action, and has written here that the arrangements for beginning work are completed, and that the rails and cars have been ordered.  He says the Chicago parties are in the company and the work is certain to proceed.  As the Register before reported, it is likely that Mr. Burkholder is owner of the rights and franchises and will be on ground to begin work in a few days.  It is a matter of interest to Ironton that operations begin soon, for it is highly probable that other parties stand ready to prosecute the work.

·         IR June 7, 1888 – It seems quite likely that the street railroad will be extended to West Ironton, or further.

·         IR June 7, 1888 – The street railroad is ballasted from Adams street to Sarah Furnace, and the rails are laid to the bridge.  “All aboard” for the 4th of July, sure.

·         IR Sept. 13, 1888 – City Council….The Street Railroad Co. is to be notified to ballast their track with limestone, between the rails and 1 foot on each side, according to ordinance.

·         IR May 8, 1890 – We think the Council ought to have given the freight car idea on the Street R. R. a trial, say for a few months to see how it works, and if it will be a blessing to the community.  There is no good reason for not trying the experiment.  If it doesn’t work right, stop it, that’s all.  These are days of progress and new things.

·         IR May 8, 1890 – Pres. Ingalls said that the bridge at Ashland would pay 4 per cent. on the whole investment, from foot and horse travel alone, while the railroad business would greatly increase the revenues.  Whenever the bridge is built, it should provide for foot passengers and teams.

·         IR June 26, 1890 – A pleasant and cheap ride these warm evenings is a 20ct. trip in an open street car to Petersburg and back. [this same paper states “The Common Pleas Court has changed the name of Petersburg to Coalgrove.”]

·         IR June 26, 1890 – All Aboard. – Open street car excursions to the Moonlight Badge Picnic and Social given by the Whitwell Sabbath School.  Everyone attending is expected to wear a badge.  The one wearing the greatest number of badges will be the most popular.  Don’t forget the date, Friday evening, June 27, 1890.  Grand balloon ascension at 11 o’clock.

·         IR Sept. 18, 1890 – STREET R.R. NOTIFIED. – The County Commissioners have notified the Ironton Street Railroad Co. to remove their track from the Ice Creek bridge by October 1st.  When the Commissioners gave the Company the right over the bridge, two years ago, ti was stipulated that the Company should move the track from the bridge by October 1, 1890, or that thereafter they should be subject to a rental of $5.00 per day.  This notice is given to carry out the terms of the contract.   Whether the Street R. R. Co. will vacate and build a new bridge, or pay the rental named or some other, we don’t know.  We are certain that some judicious arrangement will be made between the two parties that will be of advantage to the public welfare.

·         IR Mar. 5, 1891   The President of the Street Railway Co. will be here this week, to look after some necessities of the road.

·         IR Mar. 26, 1891 – The summer street cars are being dressed in a garb of lovely orange.

·         IR May 28, 1891 – Three new cars have arrived for the street railroad, and henceforth all trips of the cars will be made to Ashland, except at night, there will be shorter trips to town.  In order to enable all the cars to run to Ashland, two more switches are being put down one at Isaacs and another at Cemetery lane.  The withdrawal of the shorter trips will make the intervals between cars about three minutes greater than now.  All cars will have two horses.

·         IR May 28, 1891 – Work Begun. – The work of laying the ties and stringers on the extension of the street railroad to Hanging Rock has begun.  At present, the progress is slow, for much of the force has been taken away to put down the new switches on the line above town, but when that work is done the line will be pushed with all vigor to Hanging Rock.  The timber work will all be done by the time the iron gets here.

·         IR June 25, 1891 – 200 street railroad passengers cross the Ashland ferry every day.

·         IR June 25, 1891 – The first rail was laid on the Hanging Rock street railroad extension yesterday.  A large portion of the timbers are down, and the road may be completed and cars running next week.  Some additional cars will be received for that portion of the road.  They will run on the extension independent of the main line, the cars making connection each way, at the stables.

·         IR July 2, 1891 – The street railroad is three years old today. It is a flourishing infant. … The street railroad will celebrate by opening the new extension to Hanging Rock.

·         IR July 2, 1891 – The first car went down half way on the Hanging Rock street railroad, last Saturday.  It was filled with children from along the route.  The people on the line welcomed the car with manifestations of joy.

·         IR July 9, 1891 – Ironton holds out two arms to greet the people – street railroads to Coalgrove and Hanging Rock.

·         IR July 9, 1891 – The Street Railroad carried about 4,500 passengers on the 4th.  It was the biggest day up to date.

·         IR July 9, 1891 – Notes on the Fourth – A street car broke an axle with 80 passengers aboard…A. N. & W. bridge pier was finished….217 tickets sold by the N. & W. agent, beside Ashland business…Hanging Rock street railroad extension opened with a large patronage…

·         IR July 9, 1891 – Last Friday, the street railroad extension to Hanging Rock was completed and Capt. Johnson, Superintendent, and W. M. Kerr, Secretary and Treasurer of [the] Co., took a trial trip over the line accompanied by several residents along the route.  They made the trip from the stables to the Rock in 15 minutes and back in 14.  The track was in fair condition and regular trips were established at once.  For the present, there is but one car on the extension, and it makes a round trip every hour.  The road was built under the direction of Mr. A. Lawless, who finished it practically in ten days.  This is pretty quick work, and it is a good job.  About 300 passengers went over the road the first day.

·         IR July 16, 1891 – Means, Kyle & Co., are putting the cinder on the street railway’s extension to Hanging Rock.

·         IR July 30, 1891 – A shuttle train now runs between Kenova and Wayne C. H., making four trips a day.

·         IR Jan. 21, 1892 – Give us an electric street railway.

·         IR Jan. 21, 1892 – An electric street railway from Hanging Rock to Coalgrove would be a big thing for Ironton – a great deal bigger than the “hose” cars.

·         IR Feb. 4, 1892 – The Street Railroad carried 3170 more passengers last January than in the corresponding month of last year. This is a good showing. The Street Railroad is one of the most beneficial of our institutions.

·         IR Feb. 11, 1892 – City Council. – The street railroad matter was up, and members urged the street committee to report on the company’s request for right to lay T rail.  Council will meet next Friday night to hear this report.

·         IR Feb. 11, 1892 – The majority of Council seems to be in favor ot the T rail.

·         IR Feb. 11, 1892 – One of the greatest exports from Ironton are railroad ties.

·         IR Feb. 18, 1892 – An electric street railway is a mark of improvement, but it looks as if the mark will not be made.

·         IR Feb. 18, 1892 – The street railroad would be worth a hundred per cent more to the business of Ironton if it was electric.  Then why not have it?  Do not the business interests count for something?

·         IR Feb. 25, 1892 – The vote on the petition to allow the Street Railroad Co. the right to lay a T rail was four in favor and four opposed.  Those who voted “yes” are entitled to public thanks for doing what they could to give Ironton an electric railway and do away with the slow, horse-murdering concern.

·         IR Mar. 3, 1892: – Mr. Harmon, the President of the Street Railroad, is in town.

·         IR Apr. 7, 1892 – The Ironton Street R. R. paid over $2700 into the county treasury, last Tuesday – amount of judgment and rental for using Ice creek bridge.  The street railroad pays the county if it doesn’t pay itself.

·         IR Apr. 28, 1892 – Now that Spring has come and the days have grown longer, an additional street car has been put on the route from here [Ironton] to Coalgrove, and the last car down leaves there at 7:10 p.m.

·         IR May 12, 1892 – It is highly probable that the street cars will run by electricity before many months.

·         IR May 12, 1892 – Charles G. Stroup, of Lynchburg, O., has accepted the position of conductor on the street railway, and is now doing duty in that capacity, between this city and Coalgrove.

·         IR May 19, 1892 – The Council is not far from agreeing on the electric road and the T rail.

·         IR May 26, 1892 – The Council have decided against the T rail.  Well, we ought to have electric cars anyway,

·         IR June 30, 1892 – TWENTY FIVE YEARS. – Last Monday evening was the occasion of a pleasant gathering of friends at the home of Capt. and Mrs. T. T. Johnson on Front-st.  It was their twenty-fifth anniversary, and the daughters saw to it – that it should not pass unobserved.  The invitations were for seven o’clock sharp, and there was an air of expectation about the staid married folks who were assembled promptly at that hour to the number of thirty or more.  It was no ordinary evening party to which the guests were bid, for the superintendent of the Street Railway, the host of the evening, was going to treat them to a ride over the line.  A more delightful evening could not have been chosen for such a trip.  There was not a hint of sultriness in the air, and most ladies of the company had provided themselves with wraps, which they found very comfortable on the homeward ride.  At the hour named an open car, decorated with a frieze of red, white and blue, was at the corner of Second and Center streets; the merry crowd comfortably filled the car, and it sped along without any stoppages, to its destination, the end of the line.  Much joking and laughter was indulged in, and the street occupants saw that it was an unusual company that filled the car.  To many of the guests it was a complete novelty and pleasant surprise; neither business nor inclination having taken them that way for a long time, and it was a matter of constant wonder to them at the way in which the town had been built up along the route.  Pleasant homes had sprung up where green fields were remembered, and the new industries that had taken root, were commented upon with pride.  It was a little over an hour from the time the car started until the guests returned to the host’s pleasant home, where refreshments were served and the more keenly enjoyed, after the ride in the exhilarating air.  The guests lingered to enjoy pleasant conversation and reminiscence, when they went their ways, thanking Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for the delightful evening spent, wishing them continued prosperity and long life, that they might reach their “golden wedding.”  A case of handsome silver spoons and other articles were left to remind them of the land-mark they had just passed.

·         IR Sept. 22, 1892 – They are changing the street railroad track at Coalgrove, from the N. & W. land to the county road.

·         IR Mar. 16, 1893 – There is fair talk of extending the street railroad to Sheridan.

·         IR Mar. 16, 1893 – Councilman Austin came up from Cincinnati to vote for the T rail ordinance.

·         IR Mar. 16, 1893 – Capt. Johnson thinks it is doubtful whether the Street Railway Co. will accept the T rail ordinance.

·         IR Oct. 12, 1893 – Capt. Johnson went to Charlottesville last Monday, to confer with President Harmon, of the street railroad.

·         IR Oct. 12, 1893 – We may say that the Street Railroad Co. has contracted for its electric cars and wire, and that 30 tons more of the 5 1/2 inch T rail will be shipped from Johnstown, Pa., today or tomorrow.  This will complete the track up through the 3rd street improvement.  The shipment of iron has been delayed by the manufacturers.

·         IR June 6, 1895 – Street Railway. – Mr. Lamar, the purchaser of the Street railway, is here for the purpose of completing the sale and having it confirmed, which will probably be done tomorrow.  The charter for the new company has been obtained.  The name will be The Ironton Street Railway, Light and Power Co.  The immediate problem to be solved relates to the franchise which will be asked of the City Council.  It is to be hoped this question will be considered carefully and from a friendly standpoint, for if there is anything that Ironton needs badly, it is an electric street railway.  Such an addition to Ironton will be of immense service to the business of the city.  Should the proper franchise be obtained Ironton capital will join the enterprise and its policy governed by home people.

·         IR June 13, 1895 – We imagine that the big sleeves [on] the street cars are as much a nuisance [as] the hoop skirts of our great-grandmothers would have been.  Notice the look of hate which a woman of fashion cast at any one who dares to crowd himself against her fibre chamoised sleeves.  [____] when a woman with balloon sleeves crowds herself in between two men, they, poor abused ones, have to give up all thoughts of reading their papers, it is impossible to see over Madame’s sleeves.  If they only had some kind of patent umbrella like arrangements with which they could hoist or let down their sleeves at pleasure, as the funny papers suggest, we would all be a little more comfortable.


·         IR June 13, 1895 [left side of my copy was cut off]  _____STREET RAILWAY.

_____gone glimmering again.  The

_____to have been confirmed, last

_____, but Mr. Lamar, the New

_____gentleman, appeared and stated

____was unable to to meet the final

_____whereupon the court ordered

_____property be again offered which

_____on July 1.  When the sale was

_____.  Lamar paid $1000 when the

_____was knocked down to him.

_____amount, $2000, is forfeited, and

______in paying the costs of sale

____the obligations on the


___ of Mr. Lamar to complete

____purchase was occasioned by his

____to get the control of bonds

_____to his purpose.  We regret

_____prospects of an electric

______ revenue obscured, and yet the

______ offer may result in a purchase

______serve the people as well, if not

______ Mr. Lamar’s plan.


IR July 18, 1895 – STREET R.R. CASE. – At Common Pleas Court, last Saturday, the Street Railway case was finally disposed of.  The city was allowed $537.36 on its claim; $280.83 being for the Second-street portion, which the Court allowed against the finding of the Commissioner, and of which the Court at the close said there was still some questions, but to which it still adhered.  There are 4.3 miles of railway in the city.  Of this there were 6761 ft. on the improvement, distributed as follows:

Second Street 3147 ft
Adams 194 ft
Third 3146 ft (figures are hard to make out on my copy)
This is 1.28 of a mile, whose valuation at $1500 a mile, constituted the portion adjudged assessable, to the extent of 25 per cent of its value, which however makes less than $537 for which judgment was given.  In addition to the $537, the Court allowed the City $832.79, on contract with the receiver, which amount was not in controversy.  Thus the city gets out of the case $1370.05.

There was considerable interest in the termination of the matter, an account of the costs, which ran up to $6,000, or over a quarter of the judgment.  The Court was disposed to be liberal and the lawyers holding judgments, threatened motions to relax the costs.  Attorney Johnson was allowed $1750, he to pay his own expenses, which were considerable and receiver Johnson $1800 and expenses.  With these allowances, claims represented by attorneys Hamilton and Anderson, were let in on the ground floor, and so they resisted no further.  The status of the case resulted in about what the REGISTER stated last week – the money would last long enough to pay a small portion of the Wesley and Improvement Co. judgments; but it would not reach within calling distance of the bondholders’ claims.

The attorneys for the city indicated a purpose to appeal from the rulings of the Court, and so $3000 was the amount of the bond they were to file in case the appeal was taken.

According to the judgment in the case the $22,000 resulting from the sale of the road will be thus distributed:

Receiver’s Certificates 9,767.50
Costs in Court
249.00 (or 349.00)
Taxes 740.50
City of Ironton 1,370.05
County Commissioners 279.01
Commissioner Booth 1,000.00
Receiver Johnson 1,800.00
Attorney Johnson 1,750.00
Sheriff Ward 350.00
Stenographer Cleaver 562.00
Goldcamp Mill Co. 1,270.74
Thomas Mulligam 100.46
Ironton Cross Tie Co. 658.49
Mrs. Newcomb 36.18
A. Winters 78.21
Total $20,102.16
Thus leaving about $2000 to be distributed between C. C. Wesley’s claim of $5132.50 for damages and the National Improvement Co.’s claim for construction $6727.11, which claims stand upon the same basis.

·         IR Sept. 26, 1895 – The Street Railroad Superintendent bought some sleigh bells, the other day for the horse cars; but oh, for the buzz of the electric.

·         IR Jan. 23, 1896 – The four new cars for the street railroad will go on the track early next week.

·         IR Jan. 23, 1896 – Four cars for the street railroad arrived over the C. H. & D. last Tuesday.  They came from Cincinnati.

·         IR Mar. 12, 1896 – At the last Council meeting, Dr. Ellison moved to reconsider the vote by which the street railroad amendment was lost at the previous meeting.  The question was tabled, being effected somewhat by the statement that if amended, the ordinance could not go into effect during the life of this council, and so would be void.  So, the electric railroad ordinance seems to be settled.  Is it so with the road?

·         IR Mar. 26, 1896 – The Council again refused to modify the street railroad ordinance.  They were right.  Let it stand as passed.

·         IR May 21, 1896 – The Ironton Fire Brick Co. are making a special fire brick for the street railroad on Second and Third to where the new rails are laid.  All the rails on Second and Third to that point will have to be re-laid.

·         IR May 28, 1896 – THE TROLLEY AND THE BRIDGE.

All the rail on Second and up Third some distance will have to be taken up and a six inch 60 lb rail substituted.  This work has not yet been started, except brick are being made to fit the track.  The iron rails have not yet arrived.  Only about six  weeks are left for completing this work under the franchise, and it seems impossible to do it within that time.

We cannot understand the delay, but it is to be surmised that the new bridge project exerts more or less influence.  If the bridge is built and a trolley links Ironton and Ashland in that direction, the present street railroad system will be seriously menaced.  Whether there is anything in this situation that discourages rapid movement, we can’t say; but there has been some interchange of ideas between the railroad company and the bridge projectors, in which prices have been discussed, but no possibility of an agreement appears.

In the meantime, the bridge enterprise seemed surrounded with the halo of hope.  Col. Bigstaff informed us last week, that several engineers had been engaged, and their part of the work pushed, and estimates hastened with all speed.  He has received the most direct assurances that the money will be ready when needed.

IR Jan. 30, 1897 – AS TO A FREE BRIDGE – Conference of Council Committee With the Coal Grove Village Council.

Messrs. Heald, Ellison and Henry, special council committee, also Councilman D. J. James, attended a special meeting of the Coal Grove village council Friday evening, held for the purpose of conferring on the matter of the free us of Ice creek bridge by the street railway.  Editor Feuchter and Mr. Chas. Lintner were also present.  It was almost the unanimous sentiment of all that the county commissioners should abolish the $1 per day bridge toll charged the street railway and that the company then give a five-cent fare.  A petition signed by [do not have end – my paper is cut off]

·IR Sept. 23, 1897 – City Council – Petition of street railway to lay a new switch on 3rd between Pleasant and Kemp referred.

 IR Sept. 23, 1897 – A New Motor – The motor cars which the Baldwin people ship to the C. H. & D. Traction Company next week will, it is expected, prove an epoch in railroad local transportation matters.  The design of the car is entirely new, nothing of this description ever having been attempted before in this country.  It is calculated to run at high speed on the steam railroad track, and, at the same time, by virtue of condensing appliances, can be operated through the streets of a city without frightening horses.  In this feature, it is really not quite offensive as the trolley line with its poles and attendant noises and sudden and starting flashes from the trolley connections.  There are great number of steam railroads in the country today anxiously awaiting the result of this experiment of the C. H. & D. people in the hope that it may afford a solution of the problem which now faces them, of carrying people on such short hauls as the inter-urban lines can do without the impracticable feature of the trolley wire over the steam railroad track.

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About Lawrence County, Ohio

Lawrence County, Ohio borders the Ohio River at the Southernmost part of the state. Six architecturally interesting bridges span the Ohio River, connecting Lawrence County with various locations in both Kentucky and West Virginia. Because of these bridges, metropolitan Ashland, KY and Huntington, WV are just minutes away from virtually anywhere in the county.

Lawrence County Ohio was organized December 20, 1816, the first Court of Common Pleas was organized March 4, 1817. In 2016, Lawrence County celebrated its Bicentennial… click here to view photos of the Grand Finale event.

The first election was held April 7, 1817, with Joseph Davidson, Joel Bowen, and David Spurlock elected county commissioners. Their first meeting was held Monday afternoon, April 21, 1817, at the home of Joseph Davidson in Burlington.

Lawrence County, Ohio was named after Capt. James Lawrence, a native of Burlington, NJ and a gallant naval officer of the War of 1812.

Lawrence County was home to 23 blast furnaces and was once the world leader in pig iron production.

The county seat is Ironton, where you will find our government offices, restaurants, museum, library, splash park, civic organizations, and is home of the famous Memorial Day Parade.

Check out what’s new in Lawrence County, with the Lawrence County Guide Book. 

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