The Delphos Rotary Club has conducted an historical tour for the Senior Classes at Jefferson and St. John’s schools for many years. These tours focus on what was in the city and what is left to appreciate from years gone by. The Canal is a focus because the building of the Miami and Erie Canal is what brought the German settlers here to start a new life. There were many reasons for leaving Germany and other European cities in the first half of the 1800’s: sorry economic conditions, no land available for expansion of farms, rebellions, religious repression, widespread famine and just the wish for a better life.
Each year we all learn new facts and facets of the rich history of Delphos.
I wonder how many of us who were born and raised in Delphos know much about our own history. Are we aware that that the original land was covered in huge thick forests which all had to be cleared for building of towns, roads and farms?
The first buildings were made of wood and many burned in the infamous Black Friday Fire that broke out in the late spring of 1872. After the fire, the new buildings were made of brick. Thus, 1872 is the date of the first brick downtown building.
Delphos was home to at least two brick/tile factories, the last of which disappeared just before Ulm’s expanded the trailer court.
Most of the decorative details on our downtown buildings are fashioned out of metal which is then painted or has aged to a green patina.
There were at least five hotels and many rooming houses to accommodate the many travelers and part time workers needed to work the canal and railroads.
At the turn of the century, Delphos was home to at least 100 businesses. Most work was done by manpower, mule or oxen and the need for able bodied men was tremendous. A cholera outbreak in 1854 was devastating to the community, costing many their lives.
Delphos had a large railroad yard with a roundhouse at the north end of Main St. Many of our relatives worked at these facilities at one time or another.
There was a time when Main Street was called Canal Street and Third Street was North Main Street. A street marker stating this can still be seen on the building at the NW corner of Main & Third Street.
The stage for the Capital Theater is hidden behind a wall, and the projection room and ornate ceiling can still be viewed if you know how to get there! There is a bit of rail visible on North Main St. near Ninth St. going into what was the Ricker Lumber yard.
Zane Grey, the famous author of westerns, played baseball with the Delphos team and thus lived here for a short time.
The building that houses our police and fire departments has been a part of our city since horses were used to pull the fire fighting vehicles. There were public restrooms under Third Street by the canal.
What a rich history our northwest Ohio town has.
Make plans to visit the Delphos Canal Museum and find out even more about the past. We are open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 3pm and on Thursdays from 9 – 12 Noon.
Printed in the Delphos Herald October 19, 2013.