November 12, 2021
by Heath Scofield,
Pickerington Online Intern
& Sophomore at Pickerington Central
This Sunday, November 14 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, learn how the railroad impacted life in Pickerington by visiting the “Train Stop Pickerington!” event at the Pickerington-Violet Township History Museum (15 East Columbus Street).
This free event, which celebrates both Pickerington and National Model Railroad Month, will include artifacts from the railroad, a special “Train Stand-Up” for pictures and model train displays of two different scales. The trains will be displayed on the main level of the museum and operated by Engineer Mike Raynard, a member of the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society and a model railroad enthusiast.
On June 3 of 1879, the first Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad (T&OC) train came through Pickerington, following the completion of the railroad tracks and depot. This led to a period of growth, with the population of Pickerington expanding from 150 residents to 290, and the population of the township growing from 1,220 to 1,970 (per Census Bulletin, Issues 100-150).
For more than half a century, trains would carry passengers to and from Pickerington, but as more people owned cars and more roads were paved, rail travel waned. Pickerington’s passenger service discontinued in 1950. The depot continued to handle freight traffic before the building shut down completely in 1958.
The railroad brought more industry to Pickerington, including a flour mill and a creamery. The flour mill stood across Center Street from the passenger depot and operated into the 1970s. The foundation of the mill is still there today. Across the parking lot, the creamery building still stands. It is now home to Romeo’s Pizza and Combustion Brewery and Tap Room.
After T&OC, five other railroads have operated the tracks. The second company to run the line was the New York Central System (NYC), which merged with the T&OC in the 1930s. In 1968, the NYC merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form Penn Central (PC), which went bankrupt two years later.
The federal government formed Conrail (CR) in 1976 to preserve potentially profitable lines. After the government lifted regulations, Conrail did begin to turn a profit, and it became privatized in 1987. Conrail operated the system until 1997, when it was bought and divided between CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern (NS). (The tracks through Pickerington went to Norfolk Southern.)
Currently, the Kanawha River Railroad (KNWA) runs non-stop trains through Pickerington once or twice a day, hauling coal, dry goods, and chemicals. This railroad, a subsidiary of the nationwide Watco Supply Chain Services, has been leasing the track from Norfolk Southern since 2016.
The History Museum is located within one of the few Carnegie Libraries built in Central Ohio. Within the museum are exhibits such as “Journey thru Olde Pickerington Village” and displays comparing wedding dresses and school experiences from the late 1800’s to now. The museum also houses a operational player piano, thousand-year-old tools and weapons, Civil War weapons, and mementos from both the World Wars.
Admission to the museum is free, however masks are required. A handicap-accessible elevator to the main level is available at the rear of the building, off Lockville Road by the Fire Department.