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Nostalgia & History > The Railroad Came to Kent, Ohio, 150 Years Ago Today


Date: 03/07/13 02:20
The Railroad Came to Kent, Ohio, 150 Years Ago Today
Author: SDP40F600

The city of Kent, Ohio, will pass an historical milestone today by observing the 150th anniversary of the coming of the first train to the city. It was on March 7, 1863, that an Atlantic & Great Western train arrived in the then-named village of Franklin Mills on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in Portage County.

The A&GW, which had been envisioned by Franklin Mills resident Marvin Kent, would eventually extend from Salamanca, N.Y., to Dayton, Ohio. The A&GW was a broad gauge railroad with 6 feet of space between the rails.

The Erie Railroad would lease the A&GW in 1868, but it had been involved with the A&GW from an early stage. Not only did the A&GW connect with the Erie at Salamanca, the Erie also insisted that the A&GW be built as a broad gauge railroad.

Marvin Kent served as president of the A&GW until it came under the Erie’s control. Franklin Mills, which was renamed in honor of Kent in 1867, became a division headquarters and hosted car shops and a large yard.

The genesis for the A&GW came in October 1852 when Kent and others met in Cleveland to plan a railroad that would extend between Ohio and New York state.

They obtained charters from the New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania legislatures. Consequently, the railroad went by separate names in each state, not becoming the A&GW until 1858.

Much of the funding for building the A&GW came from European financiers, primarily located in England.

The arrival of the first train in Kent was cause for celebration. The Portage County Democrat newspaper noted that the train received a “pleasant reception.”

The railroad continued to be known in Kent as the A&GW even after it came under Erie control. The A&GW name was officially retired about 1880 and Bruce Dzeda, author of the book Railroad Town: Kent and the Erie Railroad, noted that by 1895 the residents of Kent referred to the railroad as simply the Erie.

Today, the most noticeable legacy of the Erie Railroad in Kent is the handsome restored depot that stands just south of Main Street.

The tracks in town still remain, owned by the Portage County Port Authority and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. The tracks west of Kent are used in part by Shelly Materials.

The yard and car shops are gone. Part of the yard is now used as a hiking and biking trail.

The Kent Historical Society is marking the 150th anniversary of the coming of the railroad to Kent with a series of events this year. The first of those will occur on April 4 when historian H. Roger Grant will present a lecture on the Erie Railroad. Grant's talk is free and open to the public. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Christ Episcopal Church at 118 S. Mantua St.



Date: 03/07/13 04:55
Re: The Railroad Came to Kent, Ohio, 150 Years Ago Toda
Author: OC6325

To be more specific, the railroad name was Atlantic & Great Western Railway of Ohio.

At the time the railroad was built, Marvin Kent lived a few miles to the east in Ravenna. He later moved to Franklin Mills and built a nice mansion that stands to this day.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 03/07/13 14:23
Re: The Railroad Came to Kent, Ohio, 150 Years Ago Toda
Author: erie833

SDP40F600 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The yard and car shops are gone. Part of the yard
> is now used as a hiking and biking trail.

Nice history Craig. As info, some of the original A&GW shop buildings remain standing just west of the old station along Mogadore Rd. Still used by several small companies, I remember seeing the remains of the 6 ft rails imbedded in the concrete while delivering to them when I worked for UPS.

RAD



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