Then and Now
New London is located on Ohio State Routes 60 and 162 in the Firelands Area of the Connecticut Western Reserve of Northern Ohio. Many of the towns and villages in Huron County are named after Connecticut towns. New London is in the Southeastern corner of Huron County. The word "Firelands" is quite common around here. The Rural Electric Co-Operative located in New London is called the Firelands Electric Co. Sandusky's hospital is Firelands Hospital and Firelands High School is located on Vermilion Road in Henrietta Township in Lorain County which borders Huron and Erie County.
Two railroads serve the village, Conrail and Wheeling & Lake Erie. The CSX main line is just one half mile South of New London. The railroads here have quite a history as both have had about five corporate name changes through the years. Conrail began as the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati or "Beeline" in 1851. It became the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis or "Big Four" in 1889, and became a part of the New York Central System in 1930. The name was changed to Penn Central in 1968 after the merger of the NYC and PRR and after the bankruptcy of the PC it became the Consolidated Rail Corporation or "Conrail" in 1976. The W&LE began as the Pittsburgh, Akron, and Western when it was built in 1890 becoming the Northern Ohio Railway in 1895 and Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad in 1920 which merged into the Norfolk and Western system in 1964. N&W sold the line to the "new" Wheeling & Lake Erie Corporation in 1990. The CSX line South of town was the old Baltimore and Ohio's Washington-Chicago main line and is today Ohio's second busiest railroad line.
The Samuel Kilburn Chair Factory established in 1840 was the town's first industry. Today the owner of a Kilburn chair has a prized piece of furniture and they are rare even here. After the railroad came in 1851 the village grew rapidly and was incorporated in 1853. The J.D.C. Arnold Creager Co. and Curtis Cheese Box Co. were our leading industries in the 1880's. The E. Biglow Tile Co. and the C.E. Ward Robe and Regalia Co. were the main industries up till 1946. The Ohio Body Co., makers of truck trailers came to town in 1946. In 1983 the Tile Co., Ward Co., and Ohio Body Co. all closed and the village was in very hard times. Only the Kent Sporting Goods Co., coming from Ashland, and the Roth Co. from Lorain, Ohio saved the village. Kents made footballs, basketballs and all kinds of sporting equipment when they first came to town but now manufacture life preservers. The Roth Co. is a steel prefabrication plant and along with the Lake Erie Car Co., which repair and rebuild old railroad passenger cars, are now the main industries, though Hill & Griffith Co. from Cincinnati just built a new plant at the North edge of town this year. Our first Lady Mayor just took office in January.
I hope this will give you a little background on our nice quiet little village. It is a great place to live and raise a family. Hope I didn't go "overboard" on the railroads but as I used to work at Hiles Tower here on the New York Central Railroad, it is of great interest to me.
Vaugn K. Neel
New London, Ohio
The New London Area Historical Society