Ohio Finds! Fascinating Objects from Our Past: Railroad Lanterns
The first major expansion into Ohio was achieved through waterways and the construction of a system of canals. Creating access to the newest settlements was such a priority that the Ohio legislature passed the Ohio Loan Law in the 1830s to finance transportation infrastructure. Although the law was geared toward developing canals, savvy investors identified a more advanced mode of transportation: railroads. One of Ohio’s earliest routes was the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad. Completed in 1836, the 33-mile railway connected Toledo to Adrian, Michigan. Initially, small, independent operators owned the tracks that connected two cities. But by the late 1800s, large railroad companies had purchased or leased those tracks and built connectors to create a means of transportation that remained dominant through the 1930s. Collectors seek railroad memorabilia from specific routes and early railroad companies. Popular items include architectural elements and passenger-car equipment. The three railroad lanterns shown here — from the Marietta & Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cincinnati and Zanesville & Ohio River railroads — date back to the late 1880s and were sold in a group for $2280.