The Railroad Station of Wauseon, Ohio
By Beryl Frank
The history of Wauseon, Ohio, began before the Civil War, about 1853. That was when surveyors L.L. Barber, S.H. Sargeant and two other partners (names unknown) bought 160 acres of farmland in Fulton County, Ohio. They then laid out a map of the land which began and became the town of Wauseon.
In 1850 the Airline Railroad planned to lay train tracks from Toledo through Fulton County. At the same time Barber and Sargeant were selling lots to settlers, and the town of Wauseon was growing.
The first railroad depot was built in 1853, before the rails even reached the town. The structure was made of wood and sandstone. Another year passed before the tracks were laid to Wauseon. The growth of the railroad and the town then ran along together.
In 1854 tracks reached Wauseon. One year later, a train a day was stopping there - one day it was westbound, and the next day it was headed east. From 1854 to 1891 the depot at Wauseon had enough traffic that a second line was built. Then trains could travel to the East Coast and back.
When the steam-driven locomotive was a big event, people from the town were on hand to watch its arrival and departure. The train traveled between 15 and 20 miles per hour, which was very fast in the early days of the railroad. This seemed a real speed demon to the early settlers of Wauseon.
Like so many other towns in the United States, the name Wauseon came from the Indian tribes who settled the area. Some say it was an Ottowa Chief's name. Others say it was for the tribe of Potawatomies. Whatever, the town became Wauseon in the early 1850's, and it is still named that today.
In 1896 the wooden station was replaced with a sandstone and brick depot. The replacement building was on Depot Street between Fulton and Brunell streets. It was in use from 1896 through World War I and II when trains moved U.S. troops all around the country.
As of 2006 the present depot is no longer used for train travel. It is home for the Fulton County Historical Society and railroad artifacts, photos and maps as well as assorted other memorabilia. There is also an operating model railroad courtesy of the Historical Society with assistance of the Swanton Model Railroaders Club.
Thanks to Barbara Berry, director, for her assistance with the facts about the Wauseon Railroad Depot.
Original depot - built in 1853, one year before the tracks were laid to Wauseon. Photo c-1860, courtesy Don and Joan Merrill.
Wauseon depot - built in 1896. Photo c-1909.
Wauseon depot c-1916. In 1910 it was moved 20 feet further north of the tracks.