Abandoned train station in Ohio
Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Depot, Lodi Ohio
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot was constructed in 1882; one year after the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad came to Lodi. 1909 is the date of the construction drawings produced by the Toledo Division of the W. & L.E. R.R. for the upgrading of the station's architectural significance and size for continued use as a freight, mail and passenger station. After passenger service was discontinued on July 17th 1938 the depot was of little use and eventually became the Maintenance of Way office for the Norfolk & Western track crews.
During the 1909 upgrade and expansion of the depot, the original 1882 building was moved 13 away from the track, on its original site, to allow construction of an enlarged loading dock to accommodate the freight capabilities of the expanded station.
The original Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot was constructed in 1882 in Harrisville Township in Medina County. It was one of the earliest stations built in Medina County and served the Village of Lodi with passenger and mail service, connecting its residents to rail destinations across America. The Village of Lodi had a population of 568 in 1890, 8 years after the depot was constructed. One year after the depot was expanded and upgraded in 1909 Lodi's population had grown to 1016 in part due to the accessibility the depot provided both to passenger and freight service. Shortly after the 1909 expansion the Federal Railway Administration used the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot as a point of embarkment for servicemen and women being deployed to serve in World War I.
The addition of freight service in 1909 was significant to local commerce. It improved local agricultural shipping access and commerce for local manufacturing facilities, which by 1900 numbered 143 in Medina County with an annual value of products produced of $1,435,508. The W. & LE. R.R. also had a significant impact on Ohio commerce in that it provided access to coal from Wheeling and iron ore from the shipping routes on the Great Lakes, the primary reason the W. & L. E. R.R. was created.
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot has architectural significance. It represents the Stick/Eastlake style common to train stations of the early 20th century. Its authenticity is reinforced by the existence of the architectural drawing dated Sept. 3rd 1909 which shows both the framework and exterior elevations specified by the Office of the Chief Engineer of the Toledo Division of the W.&LE. R.R. Of additional significance is the fact that the depot remains on the siding where it was built. Although many turn of the century stations exist, many were relocated onto private property away from the rail lines to avoid demolition by the Railroad Companies. On Dec. 21, 2008 the W. & L. E.R.R. donated the deed for the depot and land to the Lodi Railroad Museum.
When the depot was originally constructed in 1882 it was built in a relatively plain style with short eaves and rakes and a straight gable roof. When the depot was expanded in 1909 however, the roof on the northwest end was modified to a hip to match the hip on the new section. Additionally, large 4" overhangs were added as were decorative Eastlake style brackets, giving the depot the striking visual appeal typical of early 20th century railroad stations. The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot is unusual in that is has a large freight room with five four panel freight doors with divided 8 light transoms above allowing natural light to enter the freight room when the doors were closed; an important attribute since the Village of Lodi's electric system wasn't established until 1942.
According to the Erie Railroad Historical Society, the first railroad entered the area surrounding the Village of Lodi in 1862. It entered in Burbank which is on the northern edge of Wayne County, which abuts Medina County to the south, putting it about 5 miles south of Lodi. Although this railroad gave Lodi access to freight service, the limited roadway infrastructure of the time, combined with horse powered transportation meant freight service had limited value to the residents and businessmen of Lodi.
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Company was incorporated on March 10th 1871 by a group of entrepreneurs who realized the potential profits that could be made by tapping into the vast resources of #8 bituminous coal in the Wheeling area of southeastern Ohio, shipping it to ports on the south shore of Lake Erie and transporting iron ore, limestone and cement to the industrial area surrounding Wheeling along the Ohio River. Surveyors immediately began staking out the right of way to Sandusky, the proposed northern terminus. The line was surveyed through Lodi to capitalize on the passenger and freight revenues that could be generated.
The strategy adopted by the newly formed railroad company was to set up construction points were an existing railroad crossed the newly surveyed W. & L. E. R.R. line. Yards were set up at the New York Central's Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati line at Wellington, 12 miles northwest of Lodi, and the Erie/Wheeling and Lake Erie line in Creston, six miles southeast of Lodi. Grading of the track and running of telegraph lines were completed but placement of track along the line was suspended when the continuing recession shut down the W. & L. E. completely.
While the railroad company searched for financial backing, railroad magnet Jay Gould secretly purchased securities of the W. & L. E. R.R. to acquire 37 miles of track he needed to construct his Wabash Railroad line across northern Ohio. The infusion of capitol, along with the need to be able to interchange with the Central Railroad line, meant the W. & L. E. R.R. could complete there construction using standard gauge track. In May of 1881 new locomotives and rail building materials were unloaded at the Creston yard and within a month the line was completed to Lodi. The depot in Lodi was built the next year.
When Baltimore and Ohio Railroad announced their plans in 1904 to move their high line 200 yards closer to the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot and downtown Lodi, the W. & L. E. R.R. began planning to move and expand the depot to realize income from an increased mail contract and less than carload freight service from the Railway Express Agency and local businesses. The Lodi Depot was moved 13' and doubled in size in 1909 and an expanded loading dock was built to accommodate freight service.
During this period the B&O built their Wooster/Millersburg branch off their high line and the Cleveland and Southwestern interurban line was run into Lodi using the abandoned B&O track west of Lodi. The competition of three railroads in one small town combined with automotive manufacturing boom in Detroit, and the ensuing Great Depression put tremendous pressure on the W. & L. E. R.R. Information supplied by the Northern Ohio Railway Museum indicates that the last rails laid into Lodi were the first to be pulled up when the C&SW collapsed in 1931. Seven years later, on July 17th, 1938 passenger service ended on the W. & L. E. R.R. line. Information obtained from the B&O Railroad Historical Society indicates that passenger service on the B&O line in Wooster continued until 1953 when the B&O Depot in Lodi was closed, moved off site and converted to a residence leaving the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot as the last architectural representation of the heyday of railroad passenger service.
The Lodi Depot, originally constructed in 1882 as an 18-6" x 48'-0" single-story passenger depot along the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad track running from Toledo Ohio to Wheeling West Virginia. It was the first track to reach the village of Lodi. The depot was expanded in 1909 to 18-6" x 96'-6" and moved 13 away from the main line to allow for a larger loading platform needed for the freight service that the expanded station accommodated. Following a truck/train collision in 1977, which badly burned the northwest end of the station; it was shortened to its current 80'-0" length. Other than the modified northwest end, the depot retains its massive 6'-0" overhanging eaves and decorative eave brackets. It also retains it freight loading doors, windows and the telegraph booth attached to the track side. The Stick style structure still sits along the tracks that it serviced, on simple unlandscaped grass lot a few blocks from the Square in downtown Lodi.
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot is a rather large example of early 20th century Stick style combination passenger/freight train stations. It sits on its original 1909 location approximately two blocks from downtown Lodi, which was very convenient for passengers. Its location on the west side of Lodi was also good for freight service as this was a commercial area and many business were served by the rail siding which ran from the depot to Lodi businesses. The building sits as a singular structure in the location it was moved to in 1909 (13 from its original location) when the 1882 passenger/mail service depot was expanded to allow it to be used for freight service as well.
The Historic Structures Report created in 2010 states that the 19th century portion of the structure was constructed using balloon framing for the walls. The ceiling joists were supported by a ribbon strip let into the wall studs. Investigation of the existing structure reveals that the original depot had a simple gabled roof with minimal eave overhangs and vertical board and batten siding, typical of many 19th century depots. The Stick Style/Eastlake style bracketed wide overhanging eaves were added during the 1909 expansion based on the fact that the fly rafters lap onto the earlier rafter tails at the wall plate. The roof was also changed to a hipped roof configuration. The fact that the brackets are not correctly spaced for the window openings, and in fact were shortened for the window where interference occurred further supports this fact. The orientation of the siding was also changed to horizontal clapboards with flat window casing and trim.
The track side of the depot is its primary elevation. It currently contains two large loading doors with divided light transom windows, a man door that accesses the freight and ticket office, three nine over one and two six over-one double-hung windows in the telegraph bump out and one additional window in the remaining section of the General Waiting Room. Prior to the truck/train collision in 1977, which severely damaged the north end of the station, there was also a passenger door and one more window into the General Waiting Room on the track side (southwest) elevation.
The southeast end elevation of the depot retains one large freight door and a portion of the historic loading dock. It also retains the large overhang created by the hip roof and the decorative historic brackets that support it. The northwest end elevation no longer retains its historic character due to 16'-6" of the structure being removed following a truck/train collision in 1977. That alteration also caused the passenger door on the trackside elevation to be removed. The door was relocated to the northwest end elevation.
The northeast elevation of the depot retains two large loading doors with overhead transoms and three of the windows from the 1909 expansion. Prior to 1977 two more windows existed on the northeast elevation in the General waiting room.
The current floorplan of the Wheeling & Lake Erie RR Depot remains as it was when the station had stopped being used for freight and had become a maintenance building.
With the exception of the missing section of the building which was removed after the 1977 truck/train collision, the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Depot is in very good condition for its age Although there are no photographic or written records to confirm it, it appears the bead board walls and ceiling, tongue and grove flooring, interior doors, nine over one windows and interior trim in the waiting area and ticket office are original from the 1882 construction. The historic trim, four-panel loading doors, divided light transom windows and flooring in the freight room added in 1909 remain, although one of the built-in document cabinets was stolen in the late 1990s. The exterior of the building retains the siding, trim and decorative eave brackets installed during the 1909 expansion of the depot. The one notable change made to the depot is the replacement of the slate roof installed in 1909 with modern composition shingles. The however detracts little from the visual appeal of this classic-type depot built in the heyday of railroad passenger service in the early 20th century.