Saturday, June 27, 2015
Where the Heck is Ashtabula?
It was a major location on the Underground Railroad in the middle 19th century. There is an article about one of the houses in Ashtabula at this website: www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/oh8.htm
It was also the sight of the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster. This was a derailment caused by the failure of a bridge (not the one pictured in the post card, and not this railroad company) over the Ashtabula River about 1,000 feet from the railroad station.
On December 29, 1876, at about 7:30 pm, two locomotives hauling, in tandem, 11 railcars of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway carrying 159 passengers plunged into the river in deep snow when the bridge gave way beneath them. The wooden cars were set alight by their heating stoves. The accident killed ninety-two people and was the worst rail accident in the U.S. until the Great Train Wreck of 1918. The coroner's report found that the bridge, designed by the railroad company president (William Henry Vanderbilt), had been improperly designed and inadequately inspected. As a result of the accident a hospital was built in the town and a federal system set up to formally investigate fatal railroad accidents.
The train travelling across the bridge belonged to the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, more commonly known as The Nickel Plate Road. It existed from 1881 to 1964, when it was absorbed into the Norfolk Western Railroad, just before it was merged into the Norfolk Southern Railroad in 1982. Numerous legends have grown about when and how the name "Nickel Plate" was first applied. The accepted version is that it appeared first in an article in the Norwalk, Ohio, Chronicle of March 10, 1881. On that date the Chronicle reported the arrival of a party of engineers to make a survey for the "great New York and St. Louis double track, nickel plated railroad." Later, while attempting to induce the company to build the line through Norwalk instead of Bellevue, Ohio, the Chronicle again referred to the road as "nickel plated" - a term regarded as indicative of the project's glittering prospects and substantial financial backing. In 1882, the Nickel Plate recognized F.R. Loomis, owner and editor of the Norwalk Chronicle, as originator of the term and issued him Complimentary Pass No. 1. Thus Norwalk named the road - but Bellevue finally got it. The preceding came from Wikipedia.
The post card was published by Harry H. Hamm of Toledo, Ohio - the other side of the state from Ashtabula. I could not find anything about Harry Hamm of Toledo, Ohio, but the Metropolitan Postcard Club shows us that there was a Harry Harmm of Erie, Pennsylvania. Here is the great logo that appeared on the cards he printed from Erie.