Friday, April 11, 2008

Thresher Mill Lots

Reference this post over at the Dayton Most Metro forum. Apparently there is a move afoot to re-use this open space just east of Wayne, north of 4th: A request went out for some information on the history of the site, and that was given at the link above. However, maybe a brief cartographic essay to supplement the DMM discussion.

The site was on outlot 3, next to the Miami & Erie canal extention north. A saw mill was built on the site, with a tail race along Wayne to connect up with Seelys Ditch.

This saw mill was eventually owned by Ebenezer Thresher, a local industrialist.
This mill was eventually shut down, after an incident involving members of a mob threatening to blow it up with gumpowder, and the tail race along Wayne and across 5th filled in and subdivided into town lots. Though probably closed (or steam substituted for water power) in the late 1840s in the 1850s the site became valuable as the terminus of the proposed Dayton Xenia and Belpre railroad was next door. This line was planned in the later 1850s, one of the later railroads to originate in Dayton.

The line was to extend into the southeast Ohio coal fields and Hanging Rock iron region, as a source of coal and pig iron for Dayton's growing metalworking industrys. The Belpre terminus would be across the Ohio from Parkersburg, which had a branch of the B&O, connecting Dayton with the eastern seaboard.

The road never got past Xenia (right of way graded to Jamestown, track to Xenia), and was eventually taken over by the Pennsylvania RR. It was first sold in 1865 to the Little Miami Railroad.

A year later Thresher subdivided his mill land into six lots.
The 1869 Titus map shows the lots, and some buildings on site, use unknown. well as the DX&B plant just to the east and north. The station buildings would last till the 1929 grade elevation.

In 1875 the combination atlas map of this part of Dayton shows some land use. The buildings on site are ID'ed as a woodworking operation..planing mill, window sash, etc. The DX&B roundhouse and some coal and lumber yards (bulk goods hauled by rail) appear. In 1889 the first Sanborns appear, with excellent detail showing the railroad operations and the woodworking shop on the Thresher lots. In 1898 (see maps at the DMM post linked upthread) the wood shop is still there, but the round house has been replaced by team tracks. In 1919 the wood shop is gone, and the team tracks have been extended all the way to Wayne. A close up of the the team tracks shows a long, but narrow, freight house or shed, and a track extending across Wayne to a factory across the street. These paired tracks are called team tracks as teams of draft horses would haul wagons and buckboards up to the boxcars spotted on the tracks, for public loading of freight.

The haul routes would be the wider spaces between the sets of paired tracks.
By the 1920s train movements had become so frequent that there was need to look at ways of avoiding the multiple grade crossings.

The city contracted with a consultant to come up with a grade seperation plan, where the railroad grade of the "Joint Tracks", AKA the Dayton Union Railroad", would be elevated through the center city, increasing rail traffic capacity while also mitigating grade crossing delays.

As part of the study a new freight house and team track set up was recommended for the Pennsy, which would have freed up the Thresher lots for other use. As one can see the old Pennys freight house was still standing. A larger map showing the proposed new freight station complex, with freight houses for incoming and outbound frieght, plus three pairs of team tracks, replacing the six pair at the Thresher lots site.

The grade elevation was built, but the new freight house was not. Instead the team tracks remained in use as late as 1950, serviced by a littel freight office on the south side of the tracks. One can also see the warehouses on the storage at front (first part build in 1903), and one story storage at rear...the rear storage buildings were built before 1919, and are sheathed in tin, one of the older metal buildings standing in the area.

One can see this old warehouse complex in the background in this pix. Maybe the topic of a later thread as this is so unusual, such an early metal building. There is a lot of neat industrial history in the vicinity, too. The building to the right, the white one, is the old Farmers Freind Manufacturing company, dates to the mid or later 1870s. One of the oldest factory buildings still standing in Dayton?


kevin said...

More on Ebenezer. Actually a whole book online. Thanks for the post, Jeffrey. I can't wait to see what the Dayton Circus has in mind. :)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, there is a photo of the Pierce and Coleman factory alongside Wayne in the book New Dayton Illustrated.


kevin said...

To Dave's comment (not the picture):

June 3, 1889, Pierce & Coleman's Lumber Sheds on Dutoit Street, were set on fire. Loss $8,000.

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! Thank you so much for the details! Where can I get copies of these maps? I`d love to laminate them and post them up in the new garden that will occupy the space.