Red Devil

Red Devils ran on the Western Ohio near the end of interurban’s operations. They were known to move at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

Horse and buggy was not the only predecessor to the automobile. Around Auglaize County, the interurban was also popular and vital to the county in the first part of the 20th century. That’s according to Dan Meckstroth, who gave a Facebook Live presentation, “Western Ohio: the Interurban Line in Auglaize County,” Monday night through the Auglaize County Historical Society.

“I cannot tell you how enthralled and surprised I was in what I’m finding,” Meckstroth said.

The interurban era, from the 1890s-1940s, was a time when electrically powered passenger and freight cars moved residents from rural America to and from towns.

Before interurbans, a trip from Wapakoneta to Lima took three days: one day to get there on a horse, another to spend time in Lima and a third to ride back.

On March 12, 1902 the first interurban began service from St. Marys to Lima, with a one-way ticket costing $0.50. It boarded passengers from the Grand Opera House.

In April, a line connected St. Marys to New Bremen; in May of that year a line was completed to Minster and in July, another line connected to Celina. The total mileage for the Western Ohio was 112.5 miles.

“Between March-July a lot of work … [was] done and it was done and they were ready for service,” he said. “It was ready for revenue service."

To read the full story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Evening Leader.

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