Random Posts

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Streetcars of Mansfield, Ohio

     Mansfield is a city in and the county seat of Richland County, Ohio and the city is located midway between Columbus and Cleveland via Interstate 71. 
     Geographically, it is part of Northeast Ohio and North-central Ohio regions in the western foothills of the Allegheny Plateau. Elevations vary greatly in the Allegheny Plateau, relief may only reach one hundred feet or less. In the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau in southeastern Ohio and westernmost West Virginia, relief is typically in the range of two hundred to four hundred feet. Absolute highest elevations in this area are often in the range of 900 to 1,500 feet, but be the Allegheny Front elevations may reach well over 4,000 feet.

     In 2010 the greater Mansfield population was 124,475 residents. Its official nickname is "The Fun Center of Ohio". But, it is also known as "Carousel Capital of Ohio," "Danger City," and "the Racing Capital of Ohio". 
     It was founded in 1808 on a fork of the Mohican River in a hilly region surrounded by fertile farmlands, and became a manufacturing center owing to its location with numerous railroad lines. After the decline of heavy manufacturing, the city's industry has since diversified into a service economy, including retailing, education, and healthcare sectors.
     The era of streetcars and trolleys is closely related to the history of Mansfield. The city had one of the first electric trolley systems in the US, but more importantly, manufactured the electrical mechanisms that made it possible for streetcars to run all over the country. 
     Before streetcars Mansfield had a public transportation system that relied on horse-drawn buses. The electrical rails had their beginning in Mansfield in 1887. The tracks for the electric transportation system were laid during the summer of 1887. The lines spanned 4.5 miles of city blocks, but getting things to run correctly resulted in a number of false starts. The day finally arrived on August 6, 1887, when Mansfield became the 4th city in America to successfully begin using electric trolleys. Those first cars were originally for use as horse-drawn vehicles with 15 horsepower electric motors installed. 
     This new technology wasn't without its detractors though. First, there was the fear that the streetcars would terrify horses, but that fear proved unfounded when the horses largely ignored them. 
     It seems funny today, but there was also the fear that pocket watch carrying passengers would have their watches lose time because of the electrified rails underfoot and overhead wires which would magnetize the watches. Experiments using finely tuned watches were conducted just to make sure it didn't happen. 
     The streetcars also gave new life to a major manufacturing business in Mansfield, the Ohio Brass Company which originally was a foundry that made brass harness fittings for various horse drawn vehicles. With advent of street cars Ohio Brass retooled and began manufacturing components for the electric streetcars. 
     In 1937 the last streetcar made a run carrying a few dignitaries and old time riders. The next day public transportation transferred to the city bus system. Ohio Brass exists to this day as a Hubbell Power Systems and is the market leader in polymer insulators and arresters used on transmission and distribution lines and lightning protection.

No comments:

Post a Comment