Delphos is a city divided between Allen and Van Wert Counties by the Miami Erie Canal, in the state of Ohio. Both Allen and Van Wert Counties were part of the Great Black Swamp. This area was a glacially caused wetland in northwest Ohio. Although much of the area to the east, south, and north was settled in the early 19th century, the difficulty of traveling through the swamp delayed its development by several decades. The Great Black Swamp was Ohio's last frontier, and beginning in the 1840s, it took several generations of determined farmers to drain it and make it the rich, flat farmland of today. The Ohio Railroad Company attempted to lay tracks over the muddy swamp in the 1830s and 1840s. After the project got underway, parts of the railroad began disappearing into the mud, including the track and equipment on board. Around the 1850s the state of Ohio began an organized attempt to drain the swamp for agricultural use and ease of travel. James B. Hill, living in Bowling Green, Ohio, in the mid-19th century, made the quick drainage of the Black Swamp possible with his invention of the Buckeye Traction Ditcher. Hill's ditching machine laid drainage tiles at a record pace. The development of railroads and a local drainage tile industry are thought to have contributed greatly to drainage and settlement of this once uninhabitable “Forbidden Zone”.In the 1850s, 140 railroads were planned in Ohio, but only 25 of them were ever built. In 1853, the canal transported its own demise: iron for rail lines. The first steam locomotive appeared in Allen County in 1854. But it didn’t come puffing into the county under its own power. It was delivered on the Miami and Erie Canal as freight, coming down the waterway from Toledo to Delphos. Soon, Delphos became a hub of narrow-gauge railroads, with lines eventually extending in all four directions. The line going east that eventually would become the AC&Y, was the Cleveland, Delphos & St Louis Railroad. The CD&StL Narrow Gauge Railroad was chartered March 9, 1881, by James Callery and William Semple of the Pittsburgh & Western and Joseph Boehmer and Doctor Carey Evens both of Delphos. This group of men intended to build a direct route from the Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis in Delphos to Cleveland via Findlay and Medina. In 1882 they organized a subsidiary, the Pittsburgh, Akron and Chicago, to build from Medina through Akron to Youngstown for a connection with their P&W Railroad. During the summer of 1881, construction commenced at Columbus Grove on the CD&StL, and by the end of November, the track reached the outskirts of Delphos. Mixed trains began running the 17 miles between Delphos and Columbus Grove on January 25, 1882. The road was finished from Bluffton to Arlington early in the fall of 1882 and in December the construction train reached Mt Blanchard. January 1, 1883 the road was formally opened by an excursion from Delphos to Mt Blanchard, and the following summer the line was completed to Carey. From Bluffton in Allen County, the road ran due east across the north parts of Orange, Van Buren, Madison and Delaware Townships to Mt Blanchard then took a northeast course through the south part of Amanda Township to Carey Wyandot County. Besides Mt Blanchard and Arlington two villages Jenera and Cordelia had been laid out on this route in Van Buren and Orange Townships, respectively. While the narrow gauge fad was collapsing by late 1883, the prospect of making a gauge compatible connection was no longer appealing; the line was not pushed any further. The CD&StL operated two mixed trains per day, in each direction, and did poor financially. A receiver was appointed on June 17, 1884, and the company was reorganized as the Delphos Division of the Eastern & Western Air Line Railway on November 1, 1885. The line was again reorganized as the Cleveland & Western Railroad on August 1, 1886. Service was cut to a single mixed train daily.
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