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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Finding Local History

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 12, 2006


The Local History and Genealogical Collection of a public library takes years and years to develop.


A few items were from the early collections of the library, in the first decade of the 1900s.


Other items were acquired in the 1930s and 1940s.


The family of Dr. A.M. Reid, the man who wrote Andrew Carnegie about a donation to build the library, provided books for the local history collection.


In 1952, the Herald-Star provided the library with microfilm copies of local newspapers, and continues to provide new reels as they are filmed.


In later years, the library has made an effort to collect local history, ranging from church histories to school yearbooks.


Often, items come as a surprise.  Someone is cleaning out a house and comes across an item that they drop by the library to see "if we want it."


Unfortunately, so many things probably are thrown away without thinking that they would make a great addition to local history.


More recently, the library has been "developing" items for the local history collection, such as the county Veteran's books being coordinated by our Local History Librarian, Sandy Day.


With the Digital Shoebox and digitized pages of information, developing local history is easy.


Recently, we acquired local history information from someone visiting the library from out-of-town.


He was kind enough to share with the library many photos of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Station, and we shared with him information that we had about the depot.


He provided the library with three photographs likely taken by the Pennsylvania Railroad, as they are clearly dated.


All were taken on May 15, 1912 and are labeled "Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railroad, Pittsburgh Division, Steubenville, O. Passenger Station."


The first photo shows the train station fa├žade along N. 6th Street, showing the Adams Express Company loading docks.


Three horse-drawn wagons are backed up to the dock awaiting a train, with four men sitting on carts on the docks.


The street and driveway are paved in brick, a streetcar track going down the middle of the street providing local transit to the front door of the station.


The second photo shows the trackside of the station, with three tracks to accommodate incoming trains.


A tall water-filling pipe stands along the second track to refill the steam locomotives of the era with water.


The third photo shows the "subway" tunnel that allowed station users to access the 3rd track without crossing the first two busy rails.


Other smaller photos show the station in 1962, looking old and worn; and a 1970 photo showing a closed station.


The Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central in 1968 to form "Penn Central," and they ceased all passenger service west of Harrisburg and closed the station.


Today, the station is just a memory, except for the driveway to the Express docks, which remains along N. 6th Street.


The sharing of these photos is another example of how local history can be saved for future generations.