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Ohio in the 1830s - 1860s


Railroads in Ohio
Railroads in Ohio

Because Toledo was the planned terminus of the Miami and Erie Canal, the question of whether that port city was part of the territory of Michigan or the state of Ohio reached crisis proportions in the 1830s when the canal was under construction. Ohio and Michigan both claimed an area of 640 sq km (400 sq mi) running from the Indiana border to Lake Erie, much of it in the Black Swamp that land-hungry settlers were beginning to covet. Under the Ordinance of 1787, which created the Northwest Territory, no fewer than three nor more than five states were to be created from the area. If five were created, they were to be divided in two tiers separated by an east-west line running through the southern tip of Lake Michigan, with three states below that line (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) and two above (Michigan and Wisconsin).

Maps in use in 1787 erroneously showed Lake Michigan too far to the north, so that a line drawn east from its southern end would make Maumee Bay, the site of the future city of Toledo, part of Ohio. But later maps correctly showed that the line would place Maumee Bay and Toledo in Michigan.

At first, because the area was mostly swamp and seemed uninhabitable, the federal government felt no urgent need to resolve the boundary dispute. But the need for a canal terminal at the mouth of the Maumee River and growing awareness of the area’s rich agricultural potential brought the issue to a head. In September 1835 both the territory of Michigan and the state of Ohio sent armies to the Toledo area to defend their claims.

A war between the two was averted in June 1836, when President Andrew Jackson granted the disputed area, including the port city of Toledo, to Ohio. As compensation, Michigan was granted 14,500 sq km (9,000 sq mi) of the Upper Peninsula previously claimed by the territory of Wisconsin.

Railroads were first built in Ohio in the 1830s, and by the end of 1851 lines connected most of the state’s major cities. However, canals still carried much more commerce than the railroads, and were primarily tied to the old river route south to New Orleans. In the 1850s major east-west rail lines to the large cities of the Eastern seaboard were completed across northern, central, and southern Ohio. By 1860 Ohio had more miles of railroad than any other state. By supplying fast, reliable transportation to Eastern markets, railroads rapidly replaced canals as the state’s leading commercial carriers. This improved transportation system strengthened Ohio’s commercial ties with the East at the expense of its ties with the South. "Ohio" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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