The region of north-western Ohio where the village of Swanton is situated is rich in historical interest as this small area played a pivotal role in the development of a national transport system. Back in 1835, the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad Company obtained the rights to build a railway line through the region that would run from Toledo, across Ohio and into Michigan and this would become the first line ever constructed west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today, the original depot building is still exists in the nearby town of Sylvania and it is the oldest in the state. As a result there are several museums and heritage sites in the vicinity that pay homage to this particular mode of transport and its development over the past century and a half. From the days when the first railroad cars were pulled by horses to the changes brought about by modern technology in the latter part of the 20th Century, there are some fantastic sites to visit for any one who has an interest in this mode of transport.
The Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railway and Museum, Inc., is a non-profit organization that is completely run by volunteers since it was established back in 1969. Situated in Grand Rapids, rail enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them occupied in their Static Museum which is based on West Third and Mill Streets in Grand Rapids including Coach #403, which used to run from Baltimore to Ohio and is now open to the public and now regularly hosts related museum displays and exhibitions. Visitors can also admire the magnificent “Blue Bird Passenger Train” a renowned feature that was frequently spotted travelling across the landscape of this mid west state however at present, public rides are not available for the rest of the year but the museum hopes to resume this service early in 2014 as it was very popular with tourists who came to “Ride the Blue Bird” and funds are being raised to get it back on track, literally! There is unfortunately no handicapped or disabled access due to the age of the equipment on display which makes such adjustments impossible to undertake without damaging this historic apparatus.
The Sylvania Historical Village and Heritage Center Museum on North Main Street is also within easy access of Swanton. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region and it will provide a fun and educational day out that the whole family will enjoy. Its purpose is to display a collective view of the town’s history that preserve’s its heritage so that visitors can experience life through the eyes of their ancestors, going back over two centuries. At the heart of the village is the original genuine railroad depot building that served residents in the area for almost a hundred years from 1858 to 1956. Men from the town have been dispatched as soldiers from this location to fight in five wars from the Civil war right up to the Korean War and it has survived the growth of progressive technology brought about by inventions such as invention telegraph, electricity, telephones and the automobile. There is also a 10-ton, fully restored electric locomotive with caboose on site that was originally built for the Toledo & Western Interurban Railroad.