The Ohio Question
The great state of Ohio is the unquestionable forebearer of industry in the United States. We have given unto this country efficient rubber, strong glass, reliable steel, and the dedication of our men and women only found in the mid-west. And with that, the drive that ushered in the automobile phenomenon after the second World War. But before we built our cities and towns around the dependability of Ford, Chevrolet, and the once steadfast Plymouth, we relied upon the railroad.
Cleveland, Ohio was a city dedicated to its rail service. Our streetcars and inter-urbans spanned dozens of miles in every direction except north-- less than twenty years ago Lakewood still had streetcar lines that yearned for service again, but we declined. The automobile became popular, the city was bought out by Goodyear in favor of buses, the streetcar and inter-urbans passed along our thoroughfares for the last time-- and inconsequently or not, our population quivered.
In 1827, under President John Quincy Adams, the Tom Thumb became the first passenger train in the United States on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, ushering in a new era of industry on this continent. In 1869, Ulysses S. Grant accomplished what many believed to be impossible: connect the East and West coasts by rail. William H. Taft laid the groundwork for the greatest expansion of the railroad in history. And in 1970, President Richard Nixon saved national rail by signing into law the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. If these four presidents who believed so much in our railroad infrastructure had one thing in common, it would be their party, their Republican ideals. However, the modern party of these presidents has disbanded and abandoned their allegiance to this most critical of needs.
Now, of the seven largest states in our great nation, in which Ohio hails seventh, we continue to be the only state that fails to connect our largest metropolitan centers by rail. Columbus, Ohio is the largest city in the country without a passenger system passing through it. It is morally reprehensible how we turn a blind eye to even the idea of development of light rail projects in this state. There have been plans, and ideas, and dreams that have been uttered through the halls of our state capital building for nearly two decades, none truly coming to fruition. And though the idea of a space-age vacuum tube powered by magnets would undoubtedly galvanize the region, other communities have done a great deal more to appeal to their financiers.
Though my statement reads more like a history lesson than an endorsement or appeal, it summons a very solid question. We might lose an electoral vote after the 2020 Census, the growth rate of our state is stalling, and our leaders seem to be doing very little to hamper this decline. How do we address this pivotal moment in the history of our state?
If one thing is certain, prosperity abounds where our governments invest in the people. It's just a thought to share as we head to the polls over the next few months.
Jakob Hamilton is an active student and concerned citizen interested in the enrichment of our community through dedicated and impassioned journalism.
An active student and concerned citizen interested in the enrichment of our community through dedicated and impassioned journalism.