Ohio History Journal







Professor of Geology, Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio.


Any one who seeks to glean the facts of the local history

of northwestern Ohio for the period of the '40's and '50's from

conversation with the men whose experience reaches into that

period, will hear repeated frequently the name, Milan. If in-

terest prompts the question: Where and what was Milan?, he

will be told in terms of marked respect of a market center of

long ago, of a village in northern Ohio to which yearly trips were

made for the purpose of marketing the grain of the region to the


A visit to the village will lead him to the south central part

of Erie County, and there, upon the east slope of the valley of

the Huron river, will be found a village of less than 1,000 inhab-

itants, many comfortable homes in beautiful lawns along shaded

streets. But the visitor will look in vain for the bustle and

activity of the grain marketing port of which he has been told.

He will hear only of the glory that is past.

Milan lies just north of the south line of Erie County, mid-

way between the east and west limits and about twelve miles

southeast of the port of Sandusky.

The prominence which the village had attained at one time

as a market can be traced in large measure to certain geographic


1. A broad, triangular hinterland of rich agricultural land.

2. A location upon a stream in part navigable, which, when

aided by a short canal, made Milan an inland, lake port.

3. Milan is located near the southern border of a sandy

belt which extends to the Lake and across which all of the

wagon roads must pass in order to reach the ports along the

south shore of Lake Erie. Even today these roads are not in-


292 Ohio Arch

292       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

viting lines of travel; at the end of the summer season when

the dry weather has left the sand loose and the roads compar-

atively heavy. The roads which approach Milan from the south

are of clay bed nearly to the village and are in the best of con-

dition at the time the grain is ready for the market. The canal

offered to this small inland town the advantages of cheap trans-

portation, and the elimination of a haul over exceptionally bad

roads. Milan took advantage of the position along a stream

capable of being utilized for canal purposes.

The causes of decline of Milan as a port were inherent in the

limitations of the influences, geographical, which contributed to

the rise.

1. Elimination of the hinterland by the construction of the

Mansfield and Sandusky, and the Cleveland, Norwalk and To-

ledo R. R.'s. The lack of sufficient drawing power of the limited

port facilities of Milan as compared with the natural port, San-

dusky, to attract these railroads.

2. Increase of the size of the boats beyond the facilities of


3. Over confidence of the citizens of the village in the

efficacy of the canal and a lack of foresight into the possibilities

of the railroads.

Milan is located upon the site of Petquotting, the largest of

the indian villages in the region. The Moravian Missionaries had

established themselves in the Indian village in 1787 in large

enough numbers to be of influence. Six white men erected the

first log cabin in the village in 1810.1 In 1808, Jared Ward pur-

chased a part of 1800 acres, owned by David Abbott, and was

the first settler interested in the soil. By the time of the open-

ing of the War of 1812, Milan Township contained twenty-three

families and forty persons capable of bearing arms.2

The village of Beatty (Now Milan) was laid out in 1814

by E. Merry. Mr. Merry and Isaac Tupper erected a saw and

grist mill near the town and thus established the first industry


1History of Huron and Erie Counties, O. W. W. Williams, 1879.

p. 459.

2Hist. Col. of Ohio. Henry Howe, Norwalk, O., 1896. Vol. 1, p.


Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 293


which contributed to the growth of the village. The mill was

constructed in 1816 and, being one of the first mills in that part

of the state, drew grain for a distance of 50 miles.

The period preceeding 1815 was one of constant struggle

with the Indians for a foothold in the northwest. The open lines

of travel and the opposition of the English and the Indians caused

immigration during the War of 1812 and for some years after,

to follow the Ohio River.3 The end of the War and the com-

pletion of the Erie Canal in 1825 turned the tide towards the

inland seas.4

Milan (Beatty of the period) was not of sufficient impor-

tance to receive notice in the Ohio Gazetteer of 1821. Sandusky

is spoken of as containing two stores and being the shipping point

of Lake Erie.

In 1824, Milan could boast: 32 houses, many very good; 2

brick houses; 4 mercantile stores; 1 tavern; 2 tanneries; 3 black-

smith shops; 2 tailor shops; 2 cabinet-maker shops; 1 gold-

smith shop; 1 potter; 1 shoe-maker's shop; 2 wagon-maker's

shops; 1 saddler; 1 lawyer's office; 280 inhabitants; 2 distilleries;

1 sawmill; 1 grist mill; 1 oil mill; 1 carding and clothing mill.5

A comparison of Milan, Huron and Sandusky for the year

1827 shows:

6 Milan.  6 Huron.  7Sandusky.

Male inhabitants over twenty-one years            187              57                 ...

Whole number of inhabitants .......                      675              211               594


Milan was the largest village in the country and the trading

post of the fur trade. The establishment of the Moravian Mis-

sion introduced an influence which gave a measure of pro-

tection to the settlers and thus, the impetus of an early start to

the village. Milan soon lost this early advantage. In 1839 the

Statistical Atlas of the U. S. Twelfth Census, Plates 4, 5 and 6.

Our Inland Seas. Shipping and Commerce for the Three Cen-

turies. J. O. Mills, 1910.

5Fire Lands Pioneer. New Series. Vol. 2, June, 1884. (Copied

from the Sandusky Clarion of 1824).

Fire Lands Pioneer. Old Series. June, 1864. (Copied from the

Norwalk, O., Reporter, of June 9th, 1827).

7 History of Erie Co., O., Aldrich, p. 236.

294 Ohio Arch

294        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

three villages showed populations of: Milan 600-700,8 Huron

1,2009, Sandusky 2,48010. The citizens of Milan evidently ap-

preciated the competition of their near rivals as early as 1824.

In that year, a movement was inaugurated to construct a canal

from Milan to a point three miles toward the mouth of the Huron

River. The idea was that Milan could retain, by this means, the

trade which she already had and further draw upon the trade

of the region to the south. The movement suggests that the peo-

ple recognized the drawing power of the harbor of Huron and

Sandusky and expressed the evaluation which Milan placed

upon retaining the trade which had been coming to her docks.

A commission was created and estimates of the cost of con-

structing a canal were made in 1824. The Ohio Legislature

granted a charter to the canal company in 1828 and actual work

was begun in 1832. The canal was completed in 1839 and was

practically as designed by the commission of 1824.

NOTE--(Formal statement of the authority invested in the Com-

mission by the State of Ohio).

"The engineers and the acting committee having carefully looked

the ground over which the canal will pass, marked out the route. At the

commencement of this, they find a very convenient situation for the sum-

mit pond, which may be formed by a very small dam over the Huron,

which from estimates from actual experience can be constructed for $300

with an ample supply of water for all seasons of the year. With this

expense the summit pond will be perfectly secure from flood."

"It is found by actual measurement of the fall of water the whole

distance of the contemplated canal, that it will be seven feet and six

inches. The whole ground over which the canal will pass is bottom land,

and the easiest kind of aquateneus earth for the excavation. The whole

distance is three miles and entirely of the above description of earth.

From excavations actually made, in the same kind of earth, it is found

that the excavation can be made at an expense of 6 cts. a sq. yard, and at

this rate a boat navigation of four feet deep and 30 ft. in width, may be

made at an expenditure of $1,500 per mile, and consequently the three

miles of the excavation, may be made for the sum of $4,500. Add to

this the dam and the excavation of the summit pond $300 equals $4,800.

It is believed that two locks may be necessary-one at or near the sum-

mit pond and one at the entrance of the canal from the river, at an ex-


8Ohio Gazetteer, 1839. Warren Jenkins, p. 301.

Idem. p. 234.

10Idem. p. 396.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 295


penditure of $300 each, to which add the above and we have the sum of

$5,400. Some grubbing of timber and other contingent expenses, say $400,

which added to the above, makes $5,800.

It is believed that this expense will be more than counter-balanced

by the great advantage which the thriving village of Milan will derive

from the canal. Nearly one-half of the above sum is already offered to

be advanced by responsible individuals.

P. H. HOPKINS,                                                                     GEO. W. CHOATE,

CHARLES WHEATON,                                                       MR. BATES OF N. Y.,


Engineers.                             Com.

-The Firelands Pioneer. New Series. Vol. 2, June, 1884.

(Copied from the Sandusky, O., Clarion, May 5th, 1824).


The canal was three miles long and extended from Milan to

the head of navigation on the Huron river at Fries' Landing.

Ordinarily the length is stated as being 10 mi. This statement

includes the portion of the river between Fries' Landing and

the Lake, which had been cleared and improved.

The final cost was $23,392.11 The calculated cost at the

inception of the work was $5,800. This amount was thought to

be sufficient for excavating the bed, building the locks and ex-

cavating the summit pond, thus providing for three miles of

canal with a width of thirty feet and a depth for boat navigation

of four feet.12 The receipts from tolls were $102,000, and $20,-

ooo were paid the stockholders in dividends.l3

H. S. Tanner speaking of the canal, said: [It] opens a

communication for the steamboats from the head of navigation

on the Huron river to Milan, a distance of three miles.14

The canal when completed was capable of accommodating

vessels of from 200 tons to 250 tons burden.15


11 Milan Tribune, September 2, 1843. Milan, Ohio.

12 The Fire Lands Pioneer. New Series, Vol. 2, June, 1884. (Copied

from the Sandusky Clarion of May 5th, 1824).

13History of the Firelands. Comprising Huron and Erie Counties,

Ohio. W. W. Williams. 1879.

14A Description of the Railroads and Canals of the U. S. H. S.

Tanner, New York, 1840. p. 210.

15 Historical Collection of Ohio, Henry Howe, 1908, Vol: I, p. 580.

296 Ohio Arch

296       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

The vessel Kewanne 150 tons, was the first vessel to reach

Milan via the canal. The vessel reached the docks July 4th, 1839

and was welcomed by a procession of the citizens.16

The canal construction was a successful attempt at moving

the lake port from the lake shore ten miles inland and had an im-

portant influence upon the development of Milan. The com-

16 History of Erie Co., O., Aldrich, 1889, p. 498.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 297


mercial advantage derived was only temporary, for it depended

upon the exportation of agricultural products of the region and

the consequent importation of goods from the eastern markets.

Transportation by wagon was expensive. Ten miles was a

good day's haul for the loaded teams. Much of the grain mar-

keted in Milan came from the ten or twelve counties to the south.

Some of it came from the region so far south as the National

Road.   (See Map I.)    The average price paid in Milan for

wheat per bushel in 1843 was $0.66 1/2-.67,17 from    1845-'4818

$0.86-.91; corn 1843, $0.2612/317 1845-48 $0.284/5-341/8; flour in 1845-

'48 $4.26-$4.74 bbl.18

During the same period wheat could be bought in the in-

terior for $0.25-.40 per bu., $.30-.45 a bu. was the cost of trans-

portation to market. Wheat raised in Franklin County and

marketed in Milan, a distance of 100 miles, paid $24-$30 per

load of 40 bu. for raising the grain and spending a week's time

of a man and a team of from four to seven horses in transport-

ing it to market. The Milan canal saved the produce at least a

day's haul. The cost of moving freight over common roads

was $0.15 per ton mile. The cost upon the Ohio canals, estab-

lished by the Board of Canal Commissioners, Columbus, O., Feb.

21, 1833 for each 1,000 lbs. and in the same proportion for any

lesser or greater weight of

Cents. Mills.

Flour, bread or other articles  For each mile not exceed-

manufactured from flour... ing 100 miles............  0  7


Each mi. in addition to

Wheat, salt, etc.............. 100 mi. not exceeding 200

miles 19. ..................  0  5


The cost of moving a wagon load of 40 bu. of wheat each

mile within a radius of 1OO miles was 1.68 cts. as compared

with 18 cents by wagon, which meant to the producer a saving

of 16.32 cts. per load mile.


17Milan Tribune, 1843.

18 Milan Tribune, 1845-'48.

19 Patent Office Report, 1847. Ex. Doc. No. 54, p. 566.

298 Ohio Arch

298        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

This reduction in the cost of haul and saving of time made

Milan rather attractive as a market. Transportation was the

large problem of the time.

"Three nearly coincident improvements contributed to the

rapid development of this section of the country, to-wit, The

Milan Canal, and the Mad River and the Monroeville and San-

dusky R. R. The.first of these, for some years, attracted the

greatest amount of interior trade, some idea of which may be

formed when it is stated that from I824-1850, Milan was the

chief market for 10-12 counties. At one time, it was one of the

greatest grain markets of the state, being exceeded by Massillon


The hinterland included Huron, Richland, Knox, Marion,

Crawford, part of Seneca and Lorain Counties, no doubt Ash-

land, Morrow and several other counties.21 The trade extended

south to Franklin and Champaign counties and wagons from 60

to 80 miles towards the south were not uncommon in the streets

of Milan.

Table I shows the extent of the export trade of the port

for a succession of years.




Products.      221842  221843  231844  24846  251847  261851



Wheat, bu .......... 368,255 506,966 645,832 650,229 917,880 258,778

Corn, bu .......... 27,157        *7,706 .                .......       17,844 137,935 220,264

Flour, bbl ..........                   5,163   13,629       10,591   1,257  7,182  1,763

W ool,  lbs ..........                 893      30,840  ................................


20Fire Lands Pioneer. N. S. Vol. 7, p. 43, Clarke Waggoner.

21 Ohio Gazetteer, Warren Jenkins, Columbus, 1841.

22The Milan Tribune, Dec. 14th, 1843.

2Sandusky Clarion, Dec. 28th, 1844.

24Patent Office Report. 1847. p. 586.

25 Idem.

26 Sandusky Weekly Register, Jan. 10th, 1852.

* The Milan Tribune of Nov. 2, 1843, states that 8,006 bu. had been

shipped to that date.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 299


In one week 98,000 bu. of wheat were received there from

teams,27 twenty sailing vessels were loaded in a day and between

30,000 and 40,000 bu. of grain placed upon board.

In 1847, Ohio produced 16,800,000 bu. of wheat28 of which

917,880 bu. or 5.46%  were marked via Milan. In the same

year 7,182 bbl. of flour, which represented approximately 32,319

bu. of wheat were marketed through the same port. Of the pro-

duction of wheat for that year 5,500,000 bu. were needed for

home consumption,29 which means that 10,250,000 bu. were avail-

able for export of which nearly 10% went east by way of Milan.

In 1839 eleven warehouses with a storage capacity of 300,000 bu.

were hardly sufficient to care for the grain.30 Later when the

village was at its height commercially there were fourteen ware-

houses at the docks. The exports were the direct products of

the soil or the outgrowths of activities associated with agricul-

ture. Consequently, the fluctuation of the yearly prosperity of

the village was commensurate with the yearly production of the

hinterland which did its marketing thru the merchants of the

village. When the season produced a short crop, Milan's bulk

of business registered the extent of the crop failure, and, what

is more important, when the territory contributing to Milan's

material prosperity was extensively reduced by the railroads

offering more accessibe transportation and ready communication

with better harbors, Milan suffered from that reduction in the

territory contributing to her wealth.

Great quantities of other produce passed thru the port as

may be seen in table 2. But most of this was so inherently as-

sociated with the grain trade that when the traffic in that bulky

article was reduced the other trade also declined.


27The Fire Lands Pioneer, N. S. Vol. 1, p. 43.

28Sandusky Commercial Register, Aug. 8th, 1855.

29 Patent Office Report. 1847. p. 547.

30Fire Lands Pioneer. N. S. Vol. 13, p. 719.

300 Ohio Arch

300         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.





Exports.                                                                           1842                         1843

Wheat ............................. Bushels                368,255             506,966

Corn ...............................                                                      27,157            7,706

Oats  ...............................                                                      5,570                   907

Pork ............................... Barrels                 8,254                 4,435

Flour .............................                                    "                  5,163              13,629

Ashes ..............................                                  "                                         715    1,647

High   Wines .........................                                                     582                 876

Beef    ...............................                                 "                       8                     622

Timothy seed .......................                             "                       268     1,553

Tallow                                                          ..........................                       "    ......                               62

Lard    ...............................                                 "                       207                 420

Lard ............................... Kegs                           197                   447

Butter .............................                                   "                                         586                    807

Butter .............................                             Barrels                    118                 22

Flax seed ...........................                                "                  ......                      230

Clover seed .........................                              "              49                       33

Hides ............................... Pounds                ......                    17,900

Wool ..............................                                   "                  ......                 30,000

Feathers ...........................                                 "                       366            1,361

Staves ............................                                                       456,576          724,048

Hogs,  alive .........................  Tons               ......           36

Imports.                                                                             1842        1843

Merchandise ........................   Pounds          830,135    2,652,702

Salt ............................... Barrels                   11,312               10,630

Fish  ...............................                                   "                       428                 940

Plaster .............................                                 "                       167                 413

Lumber ............................ Feet                    68,131               71,589

Shingles ............................                           M.                          707                 319

Shingle  bolts........................                        Cords                      79                   126

Stone ..........................                                      "                                         15      10

219 vessels arrived in 1843.31


During the week Aug. 12th,-25th, 1845, twelve vessels en-

tered and cleared from the port. The bulk of the cargoes of the

vessels entering consisted of; merchandise, salt and shingle bolts.

Five of them were in ballast. When they cleared they carried;

wheat, staves, pork, butter, general merchandise and ashes.32


31The Milan Tribune, December 4th, 1843.

32The Milan Tribune, Aug. 27th, 1845. Milan, Ohio.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 301

There were fourteen arrivals and thirteen clearances in the

week beginning Sept. 4th, and ending Sept. 10th, 1848. The

cargoes of the arrivals consisted of general merchandise, salt,

water lime and plank. Three were in ballast. When they cleared

they carried: wheat, pork, corn, oats, wool, butter, flour, leather,

shingles and cheese.33 These are representative weeks of the

fall. The total value of the export trade in 1844 was $825,098,

imports $634,711, of which $585,300 consisted of general mer-

chandise.34 The estimated value of the export trade in 1847 was

$1,250,000.35 By 1851, the export trade had dwindled to $435,-

816,36 while the imports amounted to $690,185.37

Sandusky, on the other hand, was developing her trade

under the influence of her railroads and harbor.  In 1844 the

exports from that port were valued at $813,83038 the imports

at $44,729.75. In 1851 the exports amounted to $6,459,659 and

the imports to $15,985,357.39 The extent of the trade which

Milan enjoyed in the late forties may be attributed to the in-

efficient facilities of the railroads and upon the inertia of the

farmers along the route in availing themselves of the new method.

of transportation. There is no doubt that the utilization of the

railroads must have lagged behind the construction four or five

years. The above stated value of the exports and the imports

as well as the quantitative figures of table I indicate clearly how

effectively the railroads eliminated Milan as a port when the

farmers realized their efficiency and availability.

The crest of the commercial prosperity was reached in the

late forties. Graph 1 and Table 1. (Note.)

Ohio was a pioneer railroad state and many projects for


33Idem. Sept. 13th, 1845.

34 Sandusky Clarion, Dec. 28th, 1844. Sandusky, Ohio.

35 Patent Office Report, 1847, p. 586. Washington, D. C.

36 Sandusky Weekly Register, Jan. 10th, 1852. Sandusky, Ohio.

37 Idem. Feb. 19th, 1853.

38 Sandusky Clarion, Dec. 28th, 1844. Sandusky, Ohio.

39Andrew's Colonial and Lake Trade. House Doc. 136, 1852.p. 176.

Washington, D. C. (These figures are higher than those for the same

year in other sources but Andrews states that they are copied from the

report of the collector of the port).

302 Ohio Arch

302      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

railroad building were launched during the decades of '30's and

'40's. Very few of these projects attained material realization.

The disappointment of the people of Sandusky when the

city was not made the terminus of the Miami Canal stimulated

their interest in the building of railroads.42 This interest re-

suited in the chartering of the Mansfield, Sandusky and Newark

R. R. The road was constructed in sections and under different

charters. The section from Sandusky to Monroeville was

chartered in 1835 and was completed before the southern part


42History of Erie Co., O. Aldrich, p. 264.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 303


which extended from Mansfield to New Haven. The section

between New Haven and Monroeville bridged the gap of fifteen

miles and established complete communication between Mansfield

and the Lake. John Sherman said that the purpose of the road

was to give better transportation facilities for the products of

the interior towards the lake ports.43

"In the month of September (1845) the construction train

brought salt and other merchandise to Plymouth. This train

continued to run during the fall and winter, carrying back to

Sandusky wheat in bags, and produce in barrels, upon the little

open cars then in use.44

The first train to cover the whole of the road entered Mans-

field sometime between May 16th, and June 19th, 1846.45

This railroad penetrated the very heart of the agricultural

region which had been contributing to the wealth of Milan.

Map. I.

The advantages offered by the railroads over the wagon

and team method of transportation soon made themselves felt in

Milan. Mansfield became a center for the buying and selling

of produce. Ware-houses were constructed and the teams which

had been helping to block the streets of Milan now began to con-

gregate in Mansfield and other villages along the line of the

railroad. It was a matter of comment, in 1846, that the mer-

chants of Mansfield were paying the same for wheat as was being

offered in Milan.46 Plymouth had a ware-house erected before

the grain of 1846 was ready for the market. Now for the first

time, the grain shipped over the railroad was marketed in bulk,

rather than in bags and barrels. The cars were open, covered

with canvas and tarpaulin and had a capacity of 140 bu. De-

velopment was rapid and the decline of Milan's receipts soon

showed that this new railroad had absorbed the trade which had

43Fire Lands Pioneer, N. S. Vol. 6, March, 1891. p. 116.

NOTE: The report from Milan was not given separately after 1847,

but was a part of the district.

44 W. W. Drennan in Hist. of Richland Co., O. A. A. Graham. 1886.

p. 302.

45 Idem. p. 303 (Andrews in his Colonial and Lake Trade, says 1847.

p. 357).

46Idem. p. 305.

304 Ohio Arch

304       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

been passing thru that port's warehouses. By 1853, the road

enjoyed the monopoly of the grain trade of north central Ohio.47

The newspapers carried schedules of the regular trains between

Sandusky and Mansfield.    Passengers could leave Sandusky

every morning at 5 A. M. and by means of stage from Mansfield

reach Columbus the same day and Cincinnati the next morning

at 10:00. The return trains left Mansfield at 4 P. M. and

reached Sandusky at 7 P. M.

Passage, Sandusky to Mansfield, by passenger train, $1.75.

Passage, Sandusky to Mansfield, by freight train, $1.25.

Freights left Sandusky each day (except Sunday) at 2 P. M.

Freights left Mansfield each day (except Sunday) at 10

A. M.

The rates at which goods were forwarded were:

Light goods ........................... 183/4 cts. per 100 Ibs.

Heavy  goods  ..........................  161/4  "  "  "

The agents of the railroads advertised that the merchants

of Tuscarawas, Richland, Knox, Holmes, Licking, Franklin,

Delaware, Union, Morrow and Crawford counties were fav-

ored by this new enterprise.48

In 1852-'53 another railroad, the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleve-

land was completed.49 It entered Norwalk which is situated just

south of Milan, and which had been but a "side show" to Milan

commercially, truncating the hinterland of Milan, no doubt con-

tributing to the decline which had been so effectively begun by the

Mansfield and Sandusky road.

The wheat shipment from Milan in 1851 was 258,778 bu.

slightly more than one-fourth of the shipment of 1847 despite

the increased production which must have taken place in Ohio

thru the stimulus of the new transportation facilities and the

employment of better agricultural methods.

The shipment of corn was 220,265 bu. as compared with

137,935 in 1847, flour 1,763 bbl. as compared with 7,182 bbl. of


47 Idem. p. 305.

48 Sandusky Clarion, Aug. 4th, 1846.

49 Andrew's Report of Colonial and Lake Trade. H. Doc. 136, 1853.

p. 359.

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio

Geographic Influences in the History of Milan, Ohio. 305

Milan suffered the inevitable and gradually lost commercial

importance. The last vessel was taken down the canal in 1865.

The next winter the locks were demolished by the ice and the

spring freshets finished the destruction.

Milan numbered among its industries ship building. A num-

ber of firms engaged in this enterprise during the years of pros-

perity. In 1843 a visitor in the village wrote home to New Hamp-

shire: "Several brigs and other sail have been built here within

the last two years. An extensive slaughtering house is now go-

ing up, and the future prospects of the business are highly en-

couraging."50 As late as February of 1855 there were nine ves-

sels of from 250 to 300 tons burden in the process of construction

at the ship yards. Including these nine vessels sixteen craft had

been built for the lake trade within a year. They had an ag-

gregate tonnage of 4,000 tons, and were valued at $128,000. As-

sociated with this construction work were the usual small indus-

tries necessary for furnishing the equipment which went with the

vessels. The oak for the vessels was abundant in the region, and

what was not used locally had established another industry of the

community in that much material was shipped to the other ves-

sel building points along the lake.51

Milan rose to temporary commercial importance because she

took advantage of the possibility of becoming an artificial lake

port for a broad, agricultural hinterland. A short, inexpensive

canal overcame the obstacle of bad roads. But the obstacle which

contributed to the rise contributed to the fall, the poor roads of

the sandy belt were capable of being overcome in too many ways.

The short canal leading to a river of limited navigability was not

a sufficiently great improvement to maintain itself. Robbed of

the hinterland by a rapid and cheaper means of transportation,

Milan has become a village known only for the glory of the past.

The limited capacity of her artificial harbor facilities gave her

practically no consideration when the railroads were looking for

terminal facilities and had the natural, and large harbors of San-

dusky and Huron at their command for the asking.

50 Milan Tribune, Nov. 9, 1843.

51 Sandusky Commercial Advertiser, Feb. 24, 1855.

Vol. XXIII - 20.