The Logan County Transportation Museum addition opened in April 2014. The building was designed by architect Karen Beasley of Beasley Architecture and Design in Bellefontaine. It was designed in the spirit of the Big Four/New York Central Roundhouse railroad that stood in Bellefontaine from the late 1890s to the 1960s.
The building was made possible through a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The ODOT grant paid 80% of the $3 million project. The Historical Society raised the rest of the money through donations from local businesses, industries and individuals. The complete list of donors can be seen in the entry of the Transportation
Museum, as well as a dedication board acknowledging many individuals who played a key role in the project.
The first floor bays are dedicated to numerous exhibits on Logan County’s important role in transportation.
The second floor houses the Logan County Genealogical Society and their library and the Logan County Historical Society’s Archives, as well as the AcuSport Meeting Room.
The Five Bays
Early Transportation Bay
This room looks at some of the early modes of travel in Logan County. The Shawver-Shick covered wagon brought the family to Logan County in the 1840s. The wagon is packed like it may have been when it was used. You may walk up the steps to look into the wagon. The undercarriage is original. The box of the wagon was built by Bill Davis and his FFA students at Benjamin Logan High School. The room also details the carriage and buggy manufacturing history in Logan County. The buggy on exhibit was built by the Kingsbury & Crockett Co. in Bellefontaine. It was donated by Richard Whitehead. Ben Miller of Millway Carriage & Wagon Shop in Belle Center restored the buggy. Baker’s Automotive Inc.
and others aided in the restoration. This room is dedicated in honor of Citizens Federal Savings & Loan Association for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
Items of interest:
· Side saddle from the Green family of East Liberty
· Harness maker’s bench
· Sleigh Bells that belonged to Dr. Edward Henry Knight
· Carriage Jack
No aspect of Logan County history is more important to the area than the railroad. The first railroad came through the county in 1847. The railroad grew greatly after the Civil War, and from the 1890s through the 1950s it was the county’s major employer. The Big Four Railroad (CCC & St. L) had one of its largest roundhouses or repair shops between New York and St. Louis in Bellefontaine. During its heyday more than 100 trains passed through Logan County daily. This room is dedicated in honor of the Berry Family Foundation for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
The Railroad Room details the importance of the rail industry to Logan County
Items of note
· Photographs of the various aspects of the railroad in Logan County
· Piece of rail from the first railroad in Logan County
· Model trains handcrafted by Ernest Greer of West Liberty. The trains ran in Mr. Greer’s son Jim’s clothing store (Huber-Buchenroth) in Bellefontaine before the store closed and Jim donated the trains to the museum.
· “Tools of the Trade” – tools used by the railroad
· Big Four YMCA Callboard
· New York Central telegraph desk
· Railroad lanterns
· Railcar used at the Bellefontaine Railroad Yard in the 1950s.
Outside Caboose Exhibit
The Logan County Transportation Museum has a caboose set up in the back of the building. For many years the caboose was used as the Dutch Mill Drive-In located on US 33 near Zanesfield. The Historical Society received it in 1994 and had it moved to the Logan County Fairgrounds with help of railroad employees and retirees led by Wayne Linkinhoker. The caboose was repainted as a New York Central Caboose. The caboose was open during the fair for people to walk through. In April 2014 the caboose was moved from the fairgrounds to the Logan County Transportation again led by Mr. Linkinhoker. A full list of the men and women who helped with the second move can be seen in the Atrium. The caboose will be restored as a New York Central caboose and will be open to the museum visitors in the near future.
A J Miller Bay
This room chronicles the history of A J Miller, a prominent local manufacturer of carriages & later vehicles such as ambulances and hearses. The AJ Miller Co. became a world renowned hearse and carriage builder in the first half of the 20th century. Car chassis from Nash, Buick, Cadillac and others were brought to factory where employees converted them into hearses, ambulance, hearse/ambulance combination, flower cars, tour buses and other specialty vehicles. The AJ Miller Co. operated in Bellefontaine until 1960, four years after it merged with the Meteor Co. in Piqua. This room is dedicated in honor of the Donald J. Gumpert Estate for its generous donation
towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
Items of interest:
· 1947 Miller Cadillac Duplex Hearse/Ambulance restored by Old School Restoration, LLC of Bellefontaine.
· Reproductions of photographs are on display. Please take the time to read the labels.
Blueprints of a hearse (on desk) and touring bus (wall above desk). The latter was designed by M.L. Harrold while still in high school. His father M.C. was an executive with the AJ Miller Co. The Harrold family lived in the Orr Mansion in the late 1920s through the early 1940s. You may also note that many of the photographs of the cars were taken in front of the Orr Mansion. The house, again
owned by M.C. Harrold of the AJ Miller Co. at the time, made an impressive backdrop for photos of the cars that the company
used in its catalogs and other promotional literature.
· Models of AJ Miller hearses. The large models are collectibles, but the smaller white ambulance was a model that salesmen took with them to show to prospective clients.
· The Ectomobile from the movie Ghostbusters was a 1959 Miller-Meteor hearse made in Bellefontaine.
Rotating Exhibit Bay
The theme for this bay may rotate every few years or so. Exhibits may include fire/safety service vehicles, agricultural vehicles, etc. This room is dedicated in honor of the Rowena Reames Estate for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
Modern Transportation Bay
This bay shows the depth of the transportation industry in Logan County’s recent history, present and future. The exhibit features information on industries located in the area that make parts for automobiles and supply Honda and other car manufacturers. The room also details the presence of the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty. This facility, which opened in the 1970s, contains numerous areas for testing cars, trucks, buses, experimental cars and other vehicles for a variety of factors from handling to brakes to suspensions to emissions to crash safety. Although the property is owned by Honda and TRC leases it from Honda, TRC is
an independent entity. Nearly all automobile makers in the world use the facility. This room is dedicated in honor of the Transportation Research Center for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
Items of interest:
Crashed car from TRC. The facility actually crashed the car just for the Logan County Transportation Museum. The footage of the crash will sometimes be playing on the TV in the room.
Photographs showing the TRC facility from construction through the present.
The Honda Room currently exhibits various motorcycles made at the Honda plant in Marysville. Although located in Union County, many Logan Countians worked at Honda Motorcycle plant. The motorcycles are on loan from Honda of America. The motorcycles and other Honda vehicles will be on exhibit as part of rotating exhibit. This room is dedicated in honor of Karen Beasley of Beasley Architecture & Design for her generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
The Entry, Connector, & Honda Room
Hanging in the entry is a replica of Bellefontaine native Clarence Wissler’s 1920s Pusher Monoplane. The plane was started in the 1980s by the Historical Aviation Organization of Logan County. When the organization disbanded they donated the plane to the Logan County History Center. Volunteers, led by Dwight Hansen, restored/completed the plane. More information on Wissler and Aviation history in Logan County can be found on the atrium’s south wall. This entryway is dedicated in honor of Bonnie & Dwight Hansen for their generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum. Mr. & Mrs. Hansen dedicate it to the early aviation history of Logan County.
The entry also features a square of bricks from the original Bellefontaine Roundhouse. The bricks used for the Transportation Museum were a close match and the reason the building is red brick and not yellow brick like the Mansion and Museum.
The History Center dedicated a time capsule at the official dedication of the Transportation Museum on April 27, 2014. The time capsule is to be opened exactly 100 years after the dedication on April 27, 2114.
The Donor Board & Dedication Board acknowledging those who helped with the Transportation project.
This room continues with information about Honda of America including its East Liberty Auto Plant in eastern Logan County, Honda Transmissions Manufacturing Inc. at Indian Lake and some of its other sites around the area. This room is dedicated in honor of Honda Transmissions Manufacturing, Inc. for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
Items of interest:
· Cut-a-way transmission from HTM
· Hand prints of Mr. Honda from the opening of the East Liberty plant in1989.
· Japanese wedding kimono donated by Mrs. Kashiwa Kudo “in appreciation of the hospitality and
friendship of the community over the past 6 1/2 years.” (11-27-91). The display case was donated by the International Friendship Center in memory of the Kawaguchi family (6-12-94.)
Oldest, Highest, Shortest exhibit – Bellefontaine holds the distinction of having the oldest concrete street in America (Court Avenue) , the highest point in Ohio (Campbell Hill), and the shortest street in the world (McKinley Street).
Items of Interest:
Piece of concrete from the Court Avenue embedded in the museum floor. A sign denoting the Oldest Concrete Street that hung downtown.
The exhibits in the Atrium will change over time. The Atrium is dedicated in honor of Honda of America, Inc. for its generous donation towards the Logan County Transportation Museum.
The exhibits currently include (left to right):
Aviation exhibit highlighting local airplane builder Clarence Wissler and local airplane engine designer Larence Rausenberger. Wissler’s restored WA-6 hangs from the center ring of the atrium.
Reproduction of the New York Central Schedule Board that hung in the Bellefontaine Depot
in the late 1940s-1950s. The benches are reproductions of benches typically found in railroad depots (including Bellefontaine’s).
Ray Stamm of Bellefontaine and long-time LCHS member and board member David Wagner built the benches.
The Zent/Bellefontaine Automobile Co. built two automobiles in Bellefontaine in the early 1900s – The Zent and The Traveler. The Traveler actually won several awards, but the company could not compete with the larger companies and soon folded.
More Logan County aviation history photographs and information.
The Bellefontaine Bridge & Iron Co. built bridges throughout Ohio and the Midwest. The company later became Carter Steel.
Logan County Railroad Depot exhibit includes a map showing the various rail lines that came through Logan County and photographs of the depots that once stood in the county. Unfortunately, very few of the depots remain. The West Liberty depot was moved and is now part of Marie’s Candies. The Belle Center depot has been restored and is now a community building for the village.
Transportation Museum 2nd Floor
Logan County Historical Society Archives
The Logan County Historical Society Archives houses old newspapers, files on area businesses and organizations, school files, Logan County village files, Logan County histories, Indian and pioneer history, railroad history, Indian Lake history, etc.
Open Wednesday & Friday 1:00-4:00 and by appointment.
Logan County Genealogical Society Library
The mission of the Logan County Genealogical Society is to educate the members and the public about their families and the county. The Genealogy Library features wills, court records, census records, newspapers and abstracts, birth, marriage and death index, completed family histories, surname files that include obituaries, and cemetery books.
The Genealogy Library is open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 1:00-4:00.
Donna Spencer Photo Archives
The Photo Archives contains the photo collection of the Logan County Historical Society; many of the photos and negatives are from the Hadley Studios of Bellefontaine. The Society has also received the negative collection from Lee Woodruff Photography and Benedetti Photography. Available by appointment.
AcuSport Meeting Room
The meeting room seats fifty people. The Historical Society uses it for their meetings but it can also be used by organizations, businesses and individuals. Please call the office at 593-7557 for details on Rental Fees and Building Use.