Bryan's rich railroad heritage includes a Lakeshore and Michigan Southern depot across from the Amtrak shelter and an old New York Central red brick freight house.
Paige and Lynn Street Bryan, OH 43506
- Annual Station Revenue (2015)
- Annual Station Ridership (2015)
|Parking Lot Ownership||City of Bryan, Amtrak|
|Platform Ownership||Norfolk Southern Railway|
|Track Ownership||Norfolk Southern Railway|
|20 Long Term Parking Spaces||20 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Waiting Room||Dedicated Parking||Enclosed Waiting Area|
|Pay Phones||Wheelchair Lift|
- Lake Shore Limited
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
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Bryan’s Amtrak stop is located four blocks north of the town’s main square. The modest enclosed waiting area was built in the early 1980s and provides shelter and warmth during the cold winter months.
As early as the 1840s, leaders in northwestern Ohio began to agitate for a rail line to link their rich agricultural and forest region with larger cities such as Cleveland and Chicago. By 1850, the Michigan Southern Railroad had built a line from Toledo, Ohio to Hillsdale, Michigan, only a few miles distant from the northwest border with Ohio. Michigan Southern hoped to proceed to Chicago but needed to build through Indiana to do so and thus the Northern Indiana Railroad was formed to continue the work. The two companies immediately consolidated to create the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railway (MS&NI) and construction commenced towards the southwest.
The MS&NI also planned an Air Line—a relatively straight and flat stretch of track—from Toledo that would connect with the main line at Elkhart, Indiana. Whereas many early railroads asked that communities help finance rail lines in their area through cash aid or stock subscriptions, the MS&NI only asked Williams County for a right-of-way and land for a depot and freight station. Years later, the MS&NI consolidated with the Lake Shore Railroad, providing a connection to Buffalo, New York and points further east though Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central Railroad. By 1914, the Lake Shore and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad merged to form the “new” New York Central Railroad.
The railroad built a collection of buildings over the decades, and two of these structures still stand in town. The Lakeshore and Michigan Southern Depot stands across the tracks from the present shelter. It is a simple late 19th century wood building typical of its time. The exterior is covered in vertical wood siding and trackside there is a three-sided bay window that projects onto the former platform area. From the windows the station master could have watched down the tracks in both directions to monitor rail traffic. Further down the line to the west there is an old New York Central red brick freight house. Large arched doors lead to the platform and could have accommodated big crates; a few small windows provide light but ensure security, an important function of a freight storage facility.
Bryan is the Williams County seat; the county is in the far northwest corner of Ohio and borders both Michigan and Indiana. It was named after David Williams, an American officer who fought in the Revolutionary War and helped capture British spy John Andre. American officer Benedict Arnold had conspired with Andre to turn over West Point to the British forces until the plot was foiled. At the direction of George Washington, Williams and his two fellow militiamen received the nation’s first military decoration known as the Fidelity Medallion; in addition, Ohio designated counties after each of the three men. The county seat was named for John A. Bryan, a former state auditor who donated the land for the town. Located on a rise in the land, Bryan was long known for its abundance of water, and is still called the “Fountain City.” It was also located near two important highways that connected Ft. Wayne, Indiana with Detroit, and Columbus, Ohio with Lower Michigan. Although platted in 1840, extensive growth would have to wait until the arrival of the railroad a decade later.
Due to its role as center of county government, in 1891 Bryan received an impressive four-story Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse in the public square. Designed by Edward O. Fallis and Company of Toledo, the $185,000 structure was constructed of light red brick and has a solid rusticated ground floor dressed in Berea and Amherst sandstone. The stone was also used as trim over the rest of the exterior, particularly in the lintels, sills, and belt courses. The steep, multi-gabled roof punctuated by turrets leads the eye to the crowning feature—a 160 foot tall tower with clock faces that are visible from all parts of town.
By the dawn of the 20th century, the town’s place on the Air Line and its role as county seat made it conducive to enterprise, and Bryan could boast of factories and workshops producing candy, tin frames, bricks, and barrels. The best know companies were Bryan Plow and Bryan Manufacturing Company; the former made plows and the latter constructed wheel barrels. These implements were essential to the success of the county’s agricultural communities that grew wheat and oats and managed dairy farms.
Two other Bryan businesses came to dominate national candy and toy markets. The Spangler Candy Company, now run by the third and fourth generations of the Spangler family, moved to Bryan in 1906. The four Spangler brothers ran the company for much of the first half of the twentieth century, and had their first great success with the Spangler Cocoanut Ball. In time, the enterprise expanded its line to include still popular Dum Dum Pops, Circus Peanuts, and Candy Canes; the Bryan facility produces 1.5 million candy canes and 10 million Dum Dum Pops every day. The 500,000 square foot complex north of downtown is open for tours, and includes a museum chronicling the history of the family company and its sweet treats.
Any kid who has ever whiled away a day with his imagination and an Etch A Sketch can thank the Ohio Art Company. In 1912, Henry Simon Winzeler moved his company, which made metal frames and novelty items, from Archbold to Bryan. While toys were part of the product line from the start, as the decades passed they constituted a larger portion of the company’s market. The first Etch A Sketch came off the factory line in 1960, and in the 1990s, Ohio Art Company launched K’s Kids, a series of toys for babies and toddlers which is now sold in more than fifty countries.
As the weather warms up and summer approaches, the streets of Bryan buzz with activity. The highlight and kickoff of the summer is the Bryan Jubilee in late June. Vendor stands, rides, live shows, craft demonstrations and the beloved Farmers’ Market provide days of fun and opportunities for discovery that celebrate the life of the community. On Wednesday evenings in June and July the Bryan City Band gives free concerts in the bandstand next to the courthouse. This long standing tradition—over 150 consecutive seasons—attracts music aficionados from the town and beyond, and most people bring a blanket or folding chair to sit under the shady trees and enjoy the sounds and catch-up with family and friends. Thursday nights are for car lovers—the Bryan “Cruise-In” around the public square attracts vintage car owners and those interested in classic cars. The casual get-together is all about viewing the wonderfully polished car bodies, checking under the hood, and telling tales of great road adventures.
From the two and three story Victorian commercial structures facing the public square to the historic residential districts close to the city’s heart, Bryan is a great place to stroll the streets and chart the evolution of American architecture over two centuries. While the courthouse is a treasure, many visitors also make their way to the Carnegie Library and the Bryan Theater, an operating Art Deco movie showplace created by the famed designer John Eberson. Born in Romania and educated in Vienna at the height of the fin-de-siècle Secessionist movement, Eberson made his name in America for the fantasy movie palaces he designed across the country. The Bryan Theater opened in 1939 and features an asymmetrical streamlined tan and silver façade with a blue and crimson marquee; at night, its small lights beckon the passerby to enter and lose himself to the magic of the big screen.
Rail buffs come to Bryan to visit an important site in North American railroad history. In 1966, the New York Central chose the Air Line outside of Bryan to test an experimental high-speed train. The section of track between Toledo and Butler, Indiana is 67 miles long and straight, an ideal testing ground. The railroad mounted a Budd RDC-3 diesel car with surplus turbo-jet J-47 aircraft engines and a streamlined front cowling. On July 23rd the car shot down the unmodified track at 183.85 miles per hour between Butler and Stryker, Ohio. The record still stands half a century later as the highest recorded speed on a North American railroad. Most rail fans stop to have their photo taken next to the Ohio Historical Marker that commemorates the event.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station, but does have the services of a caretaker. Bryan is served by twice daily train service.