Perhaps no state in the Union has such a diverse industrial base as does the State of Ohio. The presence of coal, limestone, and a smattering of iron ore in the soil fed a fledgling iron industry in Southern Ohio in the early 19th century. Ceramic and pottery kilns sprouted through the Ohio River Valley from East Liverpool to Marietta at the same time. Along with agricultural interests and town merchants, these industries were among the strongest customer base of the Ohio canals and of the early railroads.
The fact that the carriage industry was located in Detroit, Michigan, just 50 miles north of Toledo, played a very important role for Ohio industries and railroads in the first decades in the 20th century: it was the carriage industry that morphed into the automobile industry.
Everything that is needed to build and operate an automobile was in easy reach within or through Ohio; countless finished products and raw materials that were mined, refined, forged, assembled, and transported to market had to be delivered by rail or ship or barge. Of course, trucking assumed many of these duties once the Federal Highway system was established, but the point-to-point routes that they enjoyed were primarly based on the mines, mills, and markets that had been secured by the railroads 50 years earlier.
Today, loads as varied as yummy Beef Tallow (shipped in insulated bottle cars...we hope) and Corn Syrup support the food industry. Petrochemicals and Carbon Black flow to chemical plants. And last we forget, coal from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania rolls through Ohio in unit trains bound for Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio steam generating power plants.
Scouring the Internet for information about anything to do with Ohio railroads and the industries that they serve has led me to some really interesting websites, and I'd like to share some of the better ones with you here. Since the Pittsburgh Steel industry as well as the Pennsylvania Coal and Kentucky Coal industries are so closely tied to Ohio railroading, it only makes sense to include links relating to them as well.
Talk to me firstname.lastname@example.org