The Beverly railroad — June 1881

Beverly railroad supporters received more good news the first week of April 1881. The Ohio Senate passed the bill authorizing the transfer of $150,000 in B. & O. stock to build the Zanesville and Southeastern Railroad in Muskingum County. Col. Francis Bates Pond, Ohio senator from Malta, fought the bill hard on the grounds that a railroad down the Muskingum River would destroy many of the benefits gained from the Muskingum River improvements years before. In other words, the railroad would interfere with the steamboat trade.

By mid-April Mr. Bentley (probably William), a Zanesville railroad committee member, was in Beverly securing rights-of-way for the Zanesville and Southeastern Railroad. On April 29 another snag was reported. The Ohio Board of Public Works, already critical of Beverly’s new covered bridge, was questioning railroad plans for Beverly. The Dispatch wrote, “The Board of Public Works had better let up, or Beverly will run a railroad bridge across their little river and cover it up.” This would have been a sight to be seen!

On May 13 it was reported that the voters of Muskingum County had voted that the Zanesville and Southeastern could use the $150,000. As the paper reported the week before, this “will make a railroad to Beverly a certainty …” At this point Zanesville was considering building the road to Caldwell, McConnelsville or Beverly. It was hard to nail the railroad companies down. They were going for the best offers. It was like shooting stars – first over here, then over there, etc.

On May 31, 1881, The Spirit of Democracy in Woodsfield announced that the Zanesville and Southeastern was building their road to Caldwell with possible branches to Cumberland, McConnelsville and Beverly. On June 3 the Dispatch noted that, at a meeting in the Beverly mayor’s office, Thomas B. Townsend explained Zanesville’s position on the railroad. Dr. Patrick H. Kelley called the meeting to order. Oliver Tucker was elected chairman and C. E. F. Miller secretary. The Zanesville and Southeastern would be 41.3 miles long with 22 miles in Muskingum County and 19.3 to be built in Bristol and Center Townships in Morgan County and Waterford Township in Washington County. Beverly and vicinity was asked $35,000 (usually this was $25,000) subscription. Townsend stated, “Beverly is the point Zanesville desired most to reach first …” Members appointed to Beverly’s committee to solicit stock were: Dr. P. H. Kelley, Oliver Tucker, Dr. C. M. Humston, Gen. H. F. Devol, J. J. Israel, Dr. A. S. Clark and Jacob Dearth.

On June 10, 1881, The Beverly Dispatch announced that Col. Enoch McIntosh was leading the way to get the Zanesville and Beverly Railroad as the Zanesville and Southeastern was sometimes called. At a meeting at the mayor’s office, McIntosh was elected chairman and C. E. F. Miller secretary. McIntosh headed the list of subscribers with $5,000. Oliver Tucker was second with $2,000. Beverly had raised a total of $13,000 of the $35,000 needed. The plan was for Zanesville to build the railroad to Unionville on Meigs Creek, where one fork would run to Caldwell and the other to Beverly. It was noted Sullivan also had right-of-way down Meigs Creek, “but his road will not interfere with the Z. & B.” Predictions were the Z. and B. (actually the Z. & S. E.) railroad would be built by fall. The Dispatch wrote, “The road from Zanesville to Beverly is the key which locks and unlocks the storehouses of the lower Muskingum Valley.” Just one week later, the paper noted, “We people of Beverly are too much excited over our new railroad to celebrate the Fourth of July.” The same day Sullivan was in town doing more talking.

On June 17 people were told they could choose between two types of subscriptions: a stock payable in installments as work progresses, or a donation “payable when the road is completed.” The Dispatch noted that Sullivan, on behalf of the B., B. V. & S., was at Uniontown promising if the people picked his company he would not only build a railroad, but cities, churches, schoolhouses, machine shops and generally “make a man rich in no time if he will only subscribe to the Beaver Valley and drop the ‘Zanesville cry.'” Exaggeration, misrepresentation and deception had become the norm.

The early 1900s picture, courtesy of the Monroe County Historical Society, shows the B. Z. & C. (formerly the B. & S. W.) engine pulling one car. Notice its small size compared to standard gauge trains. This could have been an everyday scene in Beverly.

Phillip L. Crane, a Waterford resident and Marietta history teacher for 32 years, shares historical events in the Lower Muskingum Valley.