Well, if you haven’t guessed it, I’m a local history buff.
Years ago, covering people, places and things around the Miami Valley on local TV, I stumbled upon a story of a small town that is long gone, but which had a fascinating history; one that should never be forgotten.
I’m talking about the town of Tadmor.
What is a Tadmor, you say?
It just so happened to be one of the most important centers of business and commerce in Ohio’s early days. Today, Taylorsville MetroPark is the sight of the former town of Tadmor. With the Great Miami River nearby, keelboats in 1809 were pulled upriver from Dayton to take on freight from Tadmor. By 1837, the Miami/Erie Canal stretched through the town and farmers in western Ohio could at last get their products to markets in the South and the East. Flour, whiskey, pork, apples, grain and more were all shipped by canal boats, which brought much-needed cash to the farmer. Just two years later, the first federally-funded road, The National Road, was constructed through Tadmor.
For many years on the old National Road, the width of the vehicles’ wheels determined the toll.
A bunch of sheep or hogs cost 5 cents, each horse was 3 cents and a horse and rider paid a 5-cent toll. Tens of thousands of cattle were driven to market all at once. There were lines of families in horse-drawn wagons going west for settlement.
It truly was the National Highway.
In 1851, the Dayton & Michigan Railroad established freight and passenger service to Tadmor, which meant trains, canal boats, keelboats, wagons and coaches were heading in all directions from Tadmor.
Yet, progress makes previous things obsolete. The dawn of railroads drastically curtailed the traffic on the canals. Railroads did not freeze over in the winter, wash out with spring rains or suffer from drought. But, for a brief time, all four means of transportation of the day converged in Tadmor within yards of each other; this was truly the Crossroads of America – or at the very least the Crossroads of Transportation.
The Great Flood of 1913 put an end to Tadmor.
As the Great Miami River swelled out of its banks, it drowned the stretch of train tracks surrounding the town and destroyed the aqueducts of the Miami/Erie Canal. When the water retreated, the train tracks were moved to higher ground and the canal, already in decline, was abandoned.
The Miami Conservancy District took over the land and built the Taylorsville Dam in 1922, and Old National Road was moved south to cross the top of the new dam. According to an online local history fan’s blog, a structure or two remained in Tadmor until about 1960, when the last tenants moved out of the original grain dealer’s house and it was demolished.
Today, the Buckeye Trail follows the path of the old Dayton & Michigan Railroad through the park, taking walkers and bikers through the ruins of Tadmor for a peek at the way things were.
To discover Tadmor, or what remains, just take the Buckeye Trail inside Taylorsville MetroPark by walking or pedaling a little over a mile from a parking area at the west end of Taylorsville Dam. The trail follows the old canal tow path on the east side of the canal. You will run into a Tadmor sign, and what’s left is pretty amazing when you think about what was here years ago. You’ll see a concrete base of a sluice gate and the stone abutments of a bridge that once crossed the canal. A bit of a hike to the north you’ll find an abutment of the National Road.
It really is a cool place to explore and it’s interesting to note how many other cities and towns from long, long ago have vanished.
It’s up to us to remember, research and write these stories for generations to come.
Remember: If you don’t know where you’ve been, you may find it difficult to see where you’re headed.
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