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Railroad history of Union City Indiana and Ohio

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A short two hour drive from Indianapolis will have you arriving at one of the nation’s historic railroad sites. Union City is actually two towns, one in Ohio and one in Indiana. The genesis of the two like named towns came about during the development of railroads in the mid 1800’s.

There were no railroads running from Ohio to Indiana in 1849. The spring of that year saw a group of businessmen gather in the woods where modern day Union City exisits. These men decided that the first railroad from western Ohio to Indiana should run from Bellfontaine, Ohio to Indianapolis. Thus, the Bee Line was born. Two enterprising brothers realized that the rails from Indianapolis east and from Bellfontaine west would meet in this spot. The Smith brothers decided to build a town on the Indiana/Ohio state line.

Within a few months there were five different railroads either heading to or already in place at what was then named Union. The Bee Line from Indianapolis to Bellfontaine was completed in the summer of 1853. The first passenger service from Dayton, Ohio to Indianapolis was operated on January 24, 1853. By the year 1882 the town of Union saw 16 passenger trains and 22 freight trains on a daily basis.

Today there is a very nice area on the Ohio side of Union City aptly named Railroad Park. The park is in the exact location of the earliest train station and locomotive roundhouse from days gone by. This park and the associated historical information boards are worth a stop for any railroad buff or student of the history of Indiana and Ohio. The two Union City towns are in fact separate governmental entities. Each town has its own police department, fire departments, mayors and city governments. The center line of State Line Road is the actual Indiana/Ohio border. It is interesting to see State line signage in the middle of a town.

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