Imagine what it would’ve been like to take a Gypsy Road Trip a hundred years ago. At that time a modern means of transportation in Guernsey County was the Interurban, a type of electric railway with light, self-propelled, electric cars. Midland Power & Traction provided the electricity from their location on Foster Avenue at 2nd Street (recent home of Variety Glass) in Cambridge, Ohio.
Just for fun, let’s step on the Guernsey County Interurban and take a little road trip with Granny through Guernsey County on a summer day long ago. She has a special destination for her trip today, but will enjoy all the sights along the way.
All aboard for a ride into the past.
Having saved her pennies for weeks now, it’s time to purchase her round trip ticket for a quarter. The Electric Shop on the corner of South 8th Street across from the courthouse is a handy place to get a ticket.
At the first stop on the trestle by the Cambridge Glass Company on Morton Avenue, glass workers wait. Many employees use this for their ride home after work, even on a Saturday. Granny notices the baseball teams preparing to enjoy the summer day. Looks like the semi-pro teams of Cambridge Glass Clear Cuts and Byesville Bobcats are ready to “Play Ball”.
Today a stop will be made at the Byesville Driving Park along Chapman Creek. Many depart the train at Stop #7, called Marjorie or Springfield, and walk about a quarter of a mile to the grandstands at the park to watch the horse races.
Others get off at Stop #9 and visit the nicest picnic area around at Korte’s Park. This is said to have been the only swimming pool in the state of Ohio, so quite a popular spot during the summer months.
This Saturday afternoon when all the coal miners are shopping in Byesville, the Interurban has to slow down a little because of the miners and their families flooding this main thoroughfare. Coal miners were not welcome to shop in Cambridge, so Byesville was a busy town.
Just outside of Byesville at Little Kate, the tracks lead over Wills Creek on a trestle. Granny’s eyes light up as she notices a sign on the cowcatcher that says “Haag Railroad Show”. That sounds like something she would like to see.
As you pass over “Rocky Bottom”, a favorite swimming hole for youngsters, watch out for skinny dippers. Sometimes they make people laugh, and other times cause embarrassment to those riding the rails. Granny has to cover her eyes!
Trail Run Mine is a busy town with over 1500 residents. You have to be quick as the interurban only stops here for seconds unless there are milk cans, ice, dynamite, or other freight to unload. They must keep on schedule.
Up on the hillside, Granny spots families having a picnic under the trees. There is a spring nearby and she has heard that Ball’s Grove (today the northbound I-77 roadside rest) is a perfect place for a family to enjoy relaxing while the children play tag or kick-the-can.
As the Interurban stops at Puritan Mine (Seneca Lane), coal miners get on board to head home for the evening. Granny fusses just a little to make sure they don’t get coal dust or grease on her best dress as she has almost reached her destination. The large cars have seats for forty-two, but often two hundred dirty miners will crowd on board, eager to head home for the day.
By the time the cars have made it all the way to Pleasant City, the end of the line, there is reduced power for the trip back to Cambridge. Voltage is so low that cars leave at a crawl with their overhead lights no brighter than lightning bugs. Now you can see why they need that new substation on Morton Avenue to provide power to the stations at Pleasant City and Byesville.
Today’s a special day for Granny as it’s her birthday. Her sisters live in Pleasant City and greet her as she gets off the Interurban. They are amazed that she has come so far all by herself.
Granny is excited to tell them about the Haag Railroad Show that is coming next week. “Maybe we could all go see their trained bears, ponies and blue-faced monkeys. There’s always something exciting happening around Guernsey County these days.”
Wouldn’t it have been an adventure to take a Gypsy Road Trip with Granny on the Interurban?