Transportation History

This page attempts to list all significant (and maybe not so significant) events related to transportation within Columbus and the greater metro area. This includes rail, roads and other forms of transportation.

**Last Updated: 9/3/2019

1816
Lucas Sullivant constructs a wooden bridge at Broad Street across the Scioto River, the first bridge to cross the river. Crossings prior to bridge construction were made by ferry.

1824
The first Broad Street bridge over the Scioto River rots to the point of collapse. A new bridge of similar design is quickly rebuilt.

Monday, April 30, 1827
Groundbreaking for the Columbus branch of the Ohio Canal occurs, attracting about 1,000 spectators. The groundbreaking is followed by a feast and large ball.

Tuesday, September 13, 1831
Water is let into the Columbus branch of the Ohio Canal for the first time.

Friday, September 23, 1831
The ‘Governor Brown’ becomes the first boat to arrive in Columbus from Circleville on its branch of the Ohio Canal.

1832
The 3rd Broad Street bridge, a wooden covered bridge, is built across the Scioto.

The Broad Street covered bridge, likely in the 1870s.

1833
The National Road is completed through Columbus.

July 4, 1842
A large crowd turns out to see Columbus’ first balloon flight. The flight, piloted by an ‘aeronaut’ from Cincinnati, flies from the Statehouse lawn to about 5 miles east of Newark at a reported altitude as high as 2 miles.

1850
The first railroad reaches Columbus, the Columbus & Xenia Railroad.

July 4, 1851
Columbus’ second balloon flight is made from Broad and 7th Street and travels about 6 miles.

1853
The Ohio Stage Company ends its business when railroad travel begins to become dominant. It sells much of its equipment, horses and 50 coaches to an Iowa service.

June 10, 1854
The Columbus Street Railway company is formed, and is authorized to build a street-based railway system on multiple streets within the city. These include High, Harrisburg Pike to Green Lawn Cemetery, Broad Street, Town Street and others. None of these lines are constructed by the company.

1857
Columbus posts the names of its streets for the first time at a cost of $528.87.

September 1, 1859
The first steam-powered boat to arrive in Columbus via its branch of the Ohio Canal is the ‘Enterprise’.

June 10, 1863
The Columbus Street Railway Company completes Columbus’ first streetcar line and begins service on High Street between Mound Street and the rail depot on North Public Lane (now Naughten Street) on the north side of the city. It operates on a 6-minute schedule. The streetcar barn is located on High Street between Goodale and Poplar Street.

1864
The Columbus Street Railway Company extends the High Street line north to University Street (now Poplar Street), and south to Stewart Avenue.
Also in 1864, the Columbus Railroad Company is absorbed by the Columbus Street Railway Company.

November 25, 1865
The North Columbus Railroad Company is formed and is authorized to construct streetcar lines from the High Street-Union Depot terminus to 5th Avenue, but doesn’t construct any track.

July 16, 1869
The Friend Street (Main Street) Railway is incorporated in order to build a line from High Street to Franklin Park (then the Ohio State Fairgrounds).

1870
The East Park Place Street Railroad Company is formed.

January, 1872
The East Park Place Street Railroad Company builds a streetcar line from High Street to Albert Street (Garfield Avenue) along Long Street.

April 23, 1872
The Glenwood & Green Lawn Railroad Company is formed.

July, 1872
The State and Oak Street Railroad Company, formed sometime earlier in the year, completes a new streetcar line on State Street between High and 7th (Grant Avenue).

1873
Parts of Broad Street Downtown are surfaced with gravel and broken stone to combat the almost impassible mud that envelops the street during heavy rains. It is the first street in Columbus to have any surface beyond dirt. The cost of the resurfacing is $3 per foot.
Also in 1873, the East Park Place Street Railroad Company extends the Long Street streetcar line from Garfield to Winner Avenue.

1874
The Columbus Street Railway Company builds a new line starting at the High/Goodale intersection and then north on Neil to Ohio State.
Also in 1874, the East Park Place Street Railroad Company extends the Long Street line from Winner Avenue to Franklin Park.

1875
The North Columbus Street Railway Company builds an extension of the High Street line from Poplar Street to 5th Avenue.

September 25, 1875
The Glenwood & Green Lawn Railway Company completes a new streetcar line on West Broad Street between High Street and the state asylum in Hilltop. A secondary branch is also completed on Glenwood Avenue south from Broad, west on Mound and south on Harrisburg Pike to Green Lawn Cemetery.

December, 1875
A tunnel to go under the 10 grade-level tracks of Union Depot on High Street is completed. Trains would often block the High Street crossing for up to 7 hours per day, creating the need for a new tunnel for streetcar and other traffic. These 325-foot “subway” tunnels are the only ones ever built in Columbus.

1876
The East Park Place Street Railroad Company builds a streetcar line on Cleveland Avenue from Long Street and then East on Mt Vernon to 12th Street, as well as a spur line that traveled on Washington Avenue from Mt. Vernon to Buckingham street that primarily served the US Barracks, now known as Fort Hayes.
Also in 1876, the North Columbus Street Railway Company is allowed to extend the High Street line from 5th Avenue to Arcadia Avenue.
Later in 1876, the North Columbus Street Railroad & Chariot Company purchases the North Columbus Street Railway Company and adds a fleet of chariots running south on High Street from Union Depot.

1879
The Friend Street Railway and the East Park Place Street Railroad are consolidated into one company, but keep separate names.

December 22, 1879
Columbus Street Railway Company, Friend Street Railway and East Park Place Street Railroad Company join together to form the Columbus Consolidated Street Railway Company (CCSRC).

1880
CCSRC buys the North High Street Railroad & Chariot Company and ends chariot service.

1882
The 3rd wooden Broad Street bridge is replaced by an iron version.
Also in 1882, CCSRC buys the State & Oak Street Railroad Company and builds and extension of their 7th Street line from the intersection of State and 7th north to Oak Street and then east on Oak to Franklin Park.

1883
CCSRC builds a streetcar line from Cleveland Avenue north to Mt Vernon and then east on Mt Vernon to North 17th Street.

1886
CCSRC buys the South High Street Railroad and Chariot Company.

1887
CCSRC builds a new streetcar line on Chittenden Avenue from High to the new Ohio State Fairgrounds.

1888
Horse-drawn streetcar lines begin electrification in Columbus. The first electrified line is the new Chittenden Avenue line, which is only half a mile in length.
Also in 1888, CCSRC extends the High Street line south from Stewart Avenue to Innis Avenue.

1889
CCSRC builds a new streetcar line from South High Street to Brick Street on Schiller.
CCSRC also constructs an extension of the High Street line from Chittenden Avenue north to Hudson Street.

February 24, 1890
A heavy thunderstorm causes a sewer system to overflow, flooding Union Depot and damaging railroad tracks.

1891
The horsecar stables at Chittenden Avenue are destroyed by fire, including 25 of the cars.
Also in 1891, Columbus’ first interurban line begins construction, the Columbus & Clintonville Electric Street Railway.

1892
The last horse-drawn streetcar line, the Oak Street line, is electrified, ending horse involvement in public transportation.

1894
The Worthington & Columbus Electric Street Railway interurban begins operation as an extension of the Columbus-Clintonville line.

August 25, 1895
The Columbus Central Street Railway interurban between Columbus and Westerville begins construction.

1896
Olentangy Park amusement park is laid out and built by the Columbus Street Railway Company.

Winter 1899-1900
The first bicycle path known in Franklin County is built on the west side of Cassady Avenue from Broad Street north to the rail yards south of 5th Avenue. It is constructed by the Rarig company for its employees to reach its plant more easily.

1901
The Columbus, Grove City & Southwestern Railway interurban opens its last section between Columbus, Grove City and Orient.
Also in 1901, the Columbus, Delaware & Marion Railway purchases the Columbus, Clintonville & Worthington interurban line and starts an extension to Marion.
The Columbus, New Albany & Johnstown Traction Company opens an interurban line to Gahanna.

1902
The Columbus, London & Springfield Railway interurban is completed.
Also in 1902, the Columbus, Buckeye Lake & Newark Traction Company completes an interurban line between the cities.

1903
The Columbus, Delaware & Marion Railway interurban is completed.
Also in 1903, the Columbus, Urbana & Western Railway is completed.

1904
The Columbus, Newark & Zanesvile Electric Railway interurban is completed between Newark and Zanesville as an extension of the Columbus, Buckeye Lake & Newark line.
Also in 1904, the Scioto Valley Traction Company opens an interurban line from Columbus to Circleville, and another branch from Obetz to Lancaster.

1905
The Scioto Valley Traction Company extends its Columbus-Circleville interurban line to Chillicothe.

Sunday, July 30, 1911
High Street between Clintonville and Webster Park is announced to be widened to 30 feet, the same width as High south of Clintonville. The widening is to include a raised drive area for cars that will be even with the surface of the interurban tracks, allowing autos to cross High from one side to the other for the first time.

March 21-25, 1913
An enormous flood destroys the iron Broad Street bridge, along with many others along the Scioto and Olentangy rivers.

October, 1921
The 5th Broad Street bridge over the Scioto River is completed at a cost of $628,000.

1922
Alkire Road, on the city’s southwest side, begins construction despite heavy local resident protests. The cost of the 10.3 mile road is $270,844.

1925
Columbus purchases a new batch of streetcars for the last time.

Monday, November 2, 1925
Columbus’ new traffic light system is turned on for the first time, and is considered to be the largest such system of any city in the nation at the time.

October 29, 1938
The last interurban trip in Central Ohio, the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad #110, departs Columbus from the terminal at Rich and 3rd in front of a small crowd.

September 5, 1948
The last streetcar arrives at its destination at Kelton Avenue on the Neil-Main line. As with the last interurban, a small crowd gathers to witness the event.

Junes 2, 1950
Train service on New York Central between Columbus and Charleston, WV ends.

Thursday, March 20, 1958
A $750,000 federal allocation is approved to help cover the cost of a $2 million, 6,000-foot-long runway at Port Columbus airport. The new runway is meant to double the plane-handling capacity of the terminal.

October, 1959
The south leg of the Innerbelt is completed and opened to traffic at a cost of $1,175,000.

June, 1960
The I-71 section between Park Road and Strimple Avenue is completed and opened to traffic at a cost of $2,949,951.

July, 1960
I-71 between Stimmel Road and Harrisburg is completed and opened to traffic at a cost of $9,306,857.

September, 1960
I-71 between Strimple Avenue to Maynard Avenue is completed and opened to traffic.

Tuesday, August 29, 1967
A Navy jet flying into Columbus from Florida makes an emergency landing at Port Columbus. The plane strikes the runway, bounces and then skids about 6,000 feet before erupting in flames. The two pilots eject on impact and one of them is seriously injured.

Tuesday, May 25, 1971
A new Amtrak “Turbotrain” prototype visits Union Station on its way back to the East Coast. The train attracts a large crowd of spectators.

Friday, June 29, 1973
A proposal is made to turn Broad Street through Downtown into a landscaped boulevard. The proposal calls for construction of a 10-foot median strip down the center of Broad between I-71 and 315. The median would include about 70 trees with another 125 along new tree laws on the north and south sides, along with 6000 bushes. The plan also includes a pair of parks at the northeast and southeast corners of Cleveland Avenue and Broad, and on both sides of Broad just west of Veterans Memorial. The price tag for the proposal is $343,000.

Wednesday, October 27, 1976
The COTA board of trustees approves a contract with Service Products Buildings Inc. to build 50 new bus shelters along several bus routes. The contract is for $131,035.

Tuesday, November 16, 1976
A helicopter crashes at Port Columbus airport after a student pilot loses control after the engine malfunctions at an altitude of about 150 feet.

Monday, November 14, 1977
Former Columbus Mayor Maynard Sensenbrenner writes an opinion piece supporting the construction of the controversial I-670 freeway that will connect Downtown to northeastern Franklin County.

1985
It is determined that salt corrosion at the base of the Broad Street bridge makes it unsafe and in need of replacement.

Monday, January 28, 1991
Demolition of the 1921 Broad Street bridge begins.