By Thomas Palmer

Long before Google, long before printed automobile maps and guides, travelers would use gazetteers and books to inform their journeys.

This was true in pre-Civil War Ohio, a place not too long removed from being inhabited by Native Americans and, later, pioneers. In this corner of Ohio, that was certainly the case.

Galion was connected to the world in the early 1850s through the arrival of the first rail line. This event would change the quiet settlement forever, bringing in visitors, investment, and interest to southeast Crawford County.

The first real guidebook for what was to become the Big Four Railroad was published in 1854. It had the rather long name of the “The Ohio railroad guide, illustrated : Cincinnati to Erie via Columbus and Cleveland,” and it was published by the Ohio State Journal Company. In its pages was the first narrative description of Galion for travelers from points north and south. It read:

GALION, 174 miles from Cincinnati and 78 from Cleveland. This is chiefly distinguished as a railroad station, and the intersection of the Cincinnati and Cleveland Railroad, with the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad. The Bellefontaine and Indiana is 118 miles in length, and at Union, the state line of Ohio and Indiana, connects with the Indianapolis & Bellefontaine Railroad, 83 miles in length, which makes 201 miles from Galion to Indianapolis. There it connects with the various railroads going to Madison, Terre Haute, and La Fayette.”

The previous entires for Ashley, Cardington, and “Gilead Station” share that Galion is one of those places that “…have wholly grown up since the location of the railroad.”

It continues, “Galion is in the county of Crawford – one corner of which we will pass through.”

The entry then goes into an extensive, multi page description of Colonel William Crawford’s 1782 expedition to the area which, of course, had taken place only 72 years before. 

Crestline is spoken about in glowing terms, the book noting that “large and handsome depots and shops are erected here.”  This despite the village’s two year old existence, having been established due to it being approximately halfway between Galion and Shelby.

Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.

Image by yan1515 from Pixabay