From Lola Vesey Merrell’s “History of Holland – 1829-1953”
If the original survey for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad had been completed, the Robert Clark home would have been directly in its path. The Robert Clark home was at that time located slightly north of the present Allman home. However, the second survey brought it through the center of town and on March 22, 1852, the first train passed through Holland on its initial run, carrying mostly officials and their families. It was called the Air Line Division of Lake Shore. Operating from Toledo to Elkhart, Indiana, it traveled on rails 5/8 inch thick and about 2 1/2 inches wide. The rails were spiked from the top to the oak ties.
As all locomotives were wood-burners, the present freight house was built primarily for wood storage. The present depot was then located directly across from it. Due to needed rail space it was moved to its present location. A morning and evening “plug” served as transportation to Toledo; a transfer fee was made at Air-Line Junction to horse drawn cars which led to the business section of Toledo. In 20 years (1860-1880) the passengers increased from 489 to 2,018 from the Holland area. One had to prepare to be gone the entire day, since there was only one return train.
The France Stone Quarry, once managed by Pray Brothers, has provided building and road needs for the past fifty years. Stone and gravel was switched onto the New York Central. Before it ceased operations in 1950, Vol Patten, employee, met tragic death. The train service will be resumed in 1953 for the Black Top Plant of the Langenderfer Paving Company operating there. The stone and gravel are now trucked out on contract.
The Sand Pit Train a few years ago switched over beyond Angola Road and carried sand on flat cars for the water-covered Middle Grounds in Toledo. A water tank was constructed just west of the Depot, the supply of which was furnished by a pump station on the north side of the railroad culvert. Vol Patten was the attendant. The train ceased operations in 1910 after the completion of ballast for another track through Holland. The Sans-Pit track was used for switching empty cars for several years.
In 1898 the Twentieth Century was inaugurated, followed by a second section. Today, besides the Centuries, these diesel power trains, since 1944, operate daily from New York to Chicago: Pacemaker, New England States, Commodore Vanderbilt, Lake Shore Limited, Prairie State, Iroquois, and South Shore Express.
Seventy-five trains pass through Holland daily, In earlier years the signal operations were operated by rotary power by Ira Cowell and Fred J. Kuechenmeister. For 25 years or more they have been automatically controlled with Isaac Long as Maintenance man today.
The Toledo and Indiana Electric
The Matt Dunn home facing east had to be moved before the survey for the electric railroad could be completed. The track was laid from Toledo to Bryan.
The first car came into Holland from Toledo in late 1902. It was a large, high, two-man-operated care. With few automobiles in the area and little competition the round trip tickets and books had enormous sales. Double-headers were in service during rush hour.
Occasionally this town and others chartered cars for special occasions such as a Greyhound trip to Sugar Island or Put-In-Bay; a day on the Lucas County Fairgrounds, Dorr Street and Upton Avenue; or to Billy Sunday’s Revivals in 1912.
The first ticket agents were Charles Burgert, Mrs. George Flack, Mrs. Nellie Campbell Bateman, followed by Opal Hardy, Minnie Gibson and Sarah Soule. On November 2, 1924, one man cars were installed which gave constant service until 1938. While these cars were in service tragedy came to Mrs. Ellen Fought and her grand-daughter, Dorothy Mae Searight, on June 12, 1927, when a switch train at Vulcan backed into their car.
The station stood at Erie and Front, It is now Lormer’s Warehouse on Clarion.
The Toledo and Indiana Railroad was superseded in 1938 by a bus line.