Railroads in Licking County
Backstory and Context
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) became one of the largest in the nation. Its route west from Baltimore and Washington was difficult to build because of numerous geographical features that had to be crossed in order to reach Ohio. Once the rail line reached Ohio however, it developed rapidly. In 1866, the B&O leased the Central Ohio Railroad for 20 years. By 1875, the B&O had taken control of the Sandusky, Mansfield and Newark Railroad, as well as the Newark, Somerset and Straitsville Railroad. These acquisitions gave the B&O three divisions operating in different sections of Ohio and connected Baltimore to Chicago for the first time.
These divisions continued to operate well into the 1900's. During the first have of the century, an average of 90 freight and 25 passenger trains passed through Newark daily. On June 30, 1961, the last Baltimore and Ohio passenger train left Newark. Nearly 24 years later, the last train to originate from Newark left the B&O yard on March 3, 1985. This event signaled the end of the glory days of railroading in Newark.
B&O Roundhouse and Rail Yard
In 1873, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company built "...the most extensive car shops to be found in the west" in Newark. the facility included ten separate buildings and employed as many as 800 men as machinists, mechanics, molders, pattern makers, blacksmiths, and car builders. The Newark Rail yard was the headquarters for four divisions of the B&O - the Lake Erie, Columbus, Shawnee, and Central Ohio divisions.
A unique feature of many rail yards were the roundhouses and turntables. A roundhouse is a large circular or semicircular building with multiple stalls for the storage and repair of locomotives or other rail cars. A turntable allows a single track access to all the stalls. A twenty-five stall roundhouse was built at the Newark Rail Yard in 1905. The roundhouse included drop pits in several stalls to allow mechanics to work on locomotives from beneath them. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad purchased most of the B&O in 1963, including the rail yards in Newark. Within a few years of the purchase, the roundhouse and most of the other buildings in the yard were dismantled.