This Day in Dayton, 19 November

Grading for the railroad began in 1871. In the spring of 1873, perhaps as a result of the Panic and attendant railroad strikes, the contractor went bankrupt and left unpaid bills for room and board here and there about town. Many rumors flew about the cause of the delay (Dunwoody). Finally work began again. The railroad has been known by several names. Initially it was the Lafayette, Muncie, and Bloomington. Later it was the Lake Erie and Western. John Purdue was one of the investors, and when he died in 1876, the engines were draped in black (Kriebel). Later the railroad was known as the Nickel Plate. As the date of completion drew near, people were so happy to see it go through that they turned out with picks and shovels and other equipment to help grade a mile of roadbed for a side track at Dayton. Three days later, on November 19, 1875, the first train arrived, from Lafayette, carrying a delegation from that city. A crowd turned out to meet it and the village church bells were rung. The locomotive whistle answered them. The townspeople, headed by Burton’s band, led the delegation, Supt. Collins, and the track layers in a procession about the town to the Academy building (then owned by Lentz), where a meal had been spread on long tables in the large, comfortable hall in the upper story. The railroad was good for business, and mail could also arrive by train. Later a siding was built for the lumber yard. After the passenger trains discontinued the Dayton stop, a mail arm was used to put the mail aboard the train, and incoming mail was dropped from the train as it moved slowly through town (Sesqui; J/C). [Illustration from Wikipedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ES44AC_nickel_plate.jpg

Susan ClawsonComment