Back in old St. Marys.

After quite a lengthy lapse, it’s time for another historic postcard.

Two years ago today, when this blog was still relatively new, I posted the second installment of what was then my Wednesday Postcards feature, spotlighting a card showing a Western Ohio interurban car on East Spring Street in St. Marys, Auglaize County. We return to St. Marys today, this time for a view of not one but two Western Ohio interurban cars on West Spring Street, a busy scene in which the trolleys are flanked by pedestrians and a small crowd of passengers.

I won’t repeat my condensed history of the WO line, which you can read in the original post (scroll down to Aug. 11). Again, I can only guess at the date of this card, which was not postmarked and carries no message on the reverse. Like the previous specimen, I believe the image dates to the line’s first decade or so. But I have since learned something about postcards which I didn’t previously know: Divided-back cards — allowing message and address to be written on the reverse so the image filled the whole side — were only permitted beginning in 1907. Then, starting about 1915, cards were typically printed with a white border on the front to minimize use of colored inks. More on these topics can be found here.

So this card likely was produced between 1907 and 1915 — and nothing about the image stands out, for me, that would definitively date the photograph to an earlier time (remember that the line only opened in 1902 in any case). While the color tinting is somewhat crude from an artistic standpoint, the producer (whose mark appears nowhere on the card) did us a huge favor by leaving the interurbans untouched.

Pedestrians and some objects in the street obscure the car number of the trolley on the left. The car in the center is not only clearly visible as number 22, but we can see “limited” signs at both sides of the dash. According to Scott D. Trostel’s 1998 book “The Lima Route,” we learn that 22 was a wood bodied passenger car built in 1903 by the Niles Car Co. of Niles, Ohio. In fact, Trostel includes a photo of this card in his book, telling us that the WO station is on the left, while car 22 is bound for Wapakoneta, the county seat.

This card is a recent acquisition, purchased on eBay about a month ago. I went searching for examples on the Internet auction site after discovering the existence of other postcards showing WO cars in St. Marys. Several of them can be found on the site, while another card, this one set in nearby New Bremen, can be seen here, along with more historical notes about the line.

Another unusual image featuring an interurban in St. Marys also can be found on the New Bremen  site, together with some fascinating local nostalgia. This article, based on the 1939 reminiscences of a local historian, shows an unidentified WO car beneath an “elephant” crossing Spring Street on a tightrope. The occasion was the St. Marys Harvest Jubilee of 1910, and the article takes its title from the event’s slogan, “Our Dear Old St. Marys Forever.”


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