Friday, September 16, 2016

The Plank Road Revisited – Part 2

Mr. Derby is convinced that the timeline on the tablet (above) honoring the plank road and its tollgate are incorrect.

In an email, he wrote, “The 1833 date on that boulder-plaque seems to actually refer to the first attempted “turnpiking” of “Elyria Road” in 1833.” He noted that “turnpiking” was not necessarily the same as planking, and that the construction may not have even started until the late 1830s. Most importantly, he revealed that his research showed that the actual planking didn’t occur until after 1848.

I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Derby on that, as I found a few vintage newspaper articles that support his theory.

One article ran in the Elyria Courier in March 1849, and mentioned the Lorain Plank Road Company and its stockholders (below). It gives the impression that the company was relatively new.

The other article (below) ran in the Elyria Courier on July 23, 1850 and indicates that the tollgate was still relatively new as well. The article was primarily about the annoyance of local farmers due to the fact that the Lorain Plank Road Company had recently erected a tollgate on what had previously been a public highway.

During his own research, Mr. Derby came up with two more articles to support his timeline of the plank road and tollgate. The first clipping, from the Elyria Courier of July 30, 1850 humorously describes how the tollgate and shanty had been recently toppled.

The second Elyria Courier article from Sept. 16, 1851 reveals how getting rid of the tollgate on the plank road was a, er, plank in the political plan of John B. Robertson in his effort to get elected to the Ohio Legislature.

It must have worked, because according to some online sources Robertson did indeed serve in the General Assembly of the State of Ohio beginning in January 1852.

As far as Mr. Derby is concerned, the articles are proof enough that the 1833 tollgate date was incorrect, with the July 1850 story about the unhappy farmers being the strongest evidence. As he noted, "That ‘complaint' news item pretty much clinches it that there was no tollgate there prior to the installation of the planking about 1849.

"So even if there had been any success with any of the prior attempts at “turnpiking,” they never had a toll on that stretch until about 1849."
Next: More plank busting

1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

Interesting, also a terrible waste of wood!
Google "Planking a road" and look at the images.