Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad

Train after 1878 Collapse of Sunbury Trestle over Big Walnut

Dennis Fravel will present a program on the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad which ran from Cleveland through Sunbury, Galena and Westerville and on to Columbus at 7:30 Tuesday, March 13, in the Myers Inn Museum Meeting Room. Big Walnut Area Historical Society sponsors this admission free program about the local railroad which was so much a part of the community from 1873 to 1982.

Fravel lives in Westerville but is a member of the local Fravel family from Sunbury and Harlem.

He spent 9 years researching this strip of the railroad.

The original railroad in our area was to go from Mt. Vernon to Delaware via Olive Green but although the beds had been under construction, the railroad was deserted in favor of the C. A. & C.

Towns had to pay to have the railroad go through their village. Sunbury raised subscription fees of $22,000 for the railroad, Galena $13,500 and Westerville $20,000. Each had to build a station as did Condit which was the beginning of Condit Station.

The original railroad passing through Sunbury crossed Columbus Street, Vernon Street, Granville Street, Cherry Street and Walnut Street. Legislation was passed to require the train to stop at each intersection and blow the whistle before proceeding. Early one morning The town awoke to discover the Columbus and Vernon Streets were barricaded by the railroad so people had go to 37 to get downtown.

After many auto-train accidents, Sunbury got the railroad to build a subway for St. Rt. 37 under the railroad in 1916. In order to make this grade, Cherry Street was cut out from Vernon to Morning and on down Granville Street under the railroad and leveled out again at East Street. Granville Street was cut out from Vernon to 37. This was a major inconvenience for all the residents whose houses were once at street level but were now left with front yards dropping way down to the street. The village still works to keep that stretch of Route 37 safe for school students to walk so close to the trucks which replaced the train traffic.

Letts Avenue ran from Vernon Street to 37 and needed to be extended to Columbus Street to allow the village to build another subway under the tracks on Columbus Street. In order to provide for cars to make the turn onto Columbus, Jerd Willison agreed to give 59 feet of his pasture in exchange for new fences which made a S curve from Letts to Columbus Street. While blasting the rock to dig out under the subway a large boulder was thrown into the first house below the tracks at 466 South Columbus Street. The boulder did a lot of damage to the front of the house which the village had to rebuild. For many years this was the home of Roger Fravel.

When the railroad was finished with the land, rather than return it to the original owners who had been forced to donate it, they sold it. In some cases this land ran through family farms. One such piece became the Sandel Legacy Trail from the second Sunbury Railroad Station to Big Walnut Elementary School. The Sunbury Train Station now houses a model railroad museum.


Another View of the 1878 Trestle Collapse with Part of Train Above at Left

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