Dec 23, 2006

Searching for Vulcan, Ohio

Vulcan, OHLeft: Mapquest image featuring the long-disappeared village of Vulcan, OH

(Toledo, OH) I am a map afficianado, and I like to study maps to get a geographic sense of the places in which I live and visit. Even as a child I used to love being the navigator on trips, and I would read them for hours on end.

Over the years I have noticed the place name "Vulcan" on maps of Toledo. This was an unincorporated village that grew up around the Vulcan Iron Works near what is now the area by Dorr Street and Westwood Avenue in Toledo.

Vulcan Iron Works, ToledoLeft: An empty lot is all that is left of the Vulcan Iron Works facility along the Toledo Terminal tracks

Vulcan Iron Works was a national firm that set up operations throughout the country. Vulcan operated a number of facilities in Toledo, including a large plant on the Maumee River.

I set out today to try and find a "piece" of Vulcan, if there were still any to be found.

Little remains of either the Vulcan Iron Works or the area known as Vulcan. A few maps continue to reference the village, and some city deeds still contain references to "Vulcan" in plat descriptions.

Vulcan Iron Works Little Giant ExcavatorLeft: The 'Little Giant' excavator produced in Toledo by Vulcan Iron Works in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

There are references on the Internet to documents related to the Vulcan Iron Works, such as this 1911 lawsuit over the purchase of a steam shovel.

A 48-ton Vulcan steam shovel was used in 1887 to dig the Stewart Tunnel in Belleville, WI.

Beyond these vague refences, plus a few scattered mentions on pages devoted to railroad history, little can be found on the Web about the village of Vulcan.

The Toledo Terminal tracks are no longer used by trains to visit the area that was once Vulcan, OH. There are now a few dozen trailer homes in spaces once occupied by industrial firms and a train depot.

Stop signs are posted on the northern and southern end of the tracks, should an engine for unknown reasons find itself in the vicinity of what was once Vulcan.

Rotted ties, rusted rails, and weeds are all that remain of the Vulcan station on the Toledo Terminal line. The nearby light industrial businesses butt up against the rail line, but are situated in a way that one might view them as turning their backs on the railroad, a form of outmoded transportation for smaller firms that now rely on trucks.

A bitterly cold wind blowing out of the west whistled through the trees and the brush, and for a moment it sounded like ghostly voices whispered behind me as I walked along the tracks.

I drove away from what was once Vulcan, Ohio, knowing little more than I earlier did about the vanished village.


microdot said...

Thanks for the lore. I just broke out my new map of Toledo to check it out.

-Sepp said...

There are a lot of forgotten little towns that dotted what is now Toledo. Remember Adams twp? The old town hall used to sit at the corner of Airport and Byrne and it's fire station was a few doors down. I can still remember when the fire station still had firemen and firetrucks operating there...damn I'm getting old!

microdot said...

My brother in law has a great book that is probably generally available in Toledo that gives the History of East Toledo! Little known fact, One of my favorite films of all time is The Gerneral by Buster Keaton (scratch that, hands down favorite film of all time!)
It was based on a true story of a band of Union soldiers who went on a raiding trip in the South. They stole a locomotive engine and cut a path of sabotage and destruction.
The leader of the raid who was decorated as a hero lived on Forsythe Street and his house is still standing. It was my sisters next door neighbors house when she lived on Forsythe. There's a lot of history under that vinyl siding!

liberal_dem said...

Mike- I have often remarked that someone [you?] ought to write a history of place names, street names, and other historical trivia of the Toledo region.

Your post on Vulcan, Ohio is exactly what I wish to read. As a geography major in college, such stuff has always fascinated me.

By the way, I have the names of 3 great historic sources of data about Toledo, two related to me. The other is more well known: Fred Folger.

Jeffrey Smith said...

I agree with liberal_dem. ( mark that on your calendar! ) A short work on local place names would be a nice addition to local history.

Hooda Thunkit said...


The First Energy (or whatever it's called this week) substation on Dorr west of Douglas/Westwood is known as the Vulcan substation.

Also, before Alzheimer's stole a friends memory, he talked of a small railroad tower called Vulcan Tower, in the same area.

Outside of StarTrek, that's the extent of my Vulcan knowledge ;-)

Anonymous said...

Just trying to learn a little bit today about THE VULCAN STEAM SHOVEL CO. of Toledo. Toledo is my hometown, my career was spent in construction, and I've always fascinated by 'big iron'. Seems VULCAN STEAM SHOVEL was founded in 1882 in Toledo, and remained one of the Big 4 Shovel Manufacturers up into 1910 when it was purchased by Bucyrus, now Bucyrus-Erie. I never knew where in Toledo the VULCAN works were until today, and I appreciate the information that the VULCAN works was near Dorr & Westwood. Wow I grew up 2 miles from there, but never knew of Vulcan, Ohio until reading this info ... THANK YOU so much for filling in many missing pieces Mike! Tom Peirce, now in Tavares, Florida.