NB History

The Village Historian, Bonnie Knaggs, is providing historical data and photos for your information and enjoyment.

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It was the coming of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1873 that helped to develop swamp land into a thriving community that was to become North Baltimore, Ohio. And, now in 2011 it is the railroad that again is providing an opportunity for what is predicted to become a “Boom Era” for this community.

500 acre $175 million CSX Northwest Ohio Intermodal Trans-Shipment Center started operation in 2011. The facility is located at North Baltimore’s “doorstep,” at the west edge of town on State Route 18.


A friendly, progressive, supportive spirit is alive and well and working in North Baltimore, a small town located in Southern Wood County, Ohio. Over 150 years of “maturing” (founded 1860) has helped to strengthen the backbone of the community that has risen above many obstacles to become the enterprising, expanding town it is today.

Over the years, disastrous fires have destroyed several major industries, much of the Main Street business district (35 business in 1891), churches and a school. Presently, the area has a strong industrial and agricultural base, being the site of some of the richest farmland in the country and strategically located within less than 500 miles of the major industrial cities and less than an hour from a major seaport and airport. The area is also served by Interstate 75, State Routes 18 and 235.

Today’s residents have the best of two worlds. They have easy access to nearby metropolitan areas for shopping, cultural activities, and work and yet are able to live in a warm, friendly, safe, secure atmosphere (where you can enjoy a leisurely walk down the streets after dark) that is found only in small town like North Baltimore, Ohio….A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE, LEARN, WORK AND PLAY!!


Good things are happening in the community at the present time, with the construction of a new $17 million dollar middle/high school and remodeling of E.A. Powell Elementary School, along with a $7.5 million sewer separation project.

New industries and businesses are locating in the community, a Main Street revitalization project is in the planning stages, and corporation limits are expanding.


North Baltimore has an outstanding public library that is one of the cultural and recreation centers of the community today, offering the latest in technology as well as a special children’s library. It also includes the Wolfe Community Room, complete with kitchen facilities, that is available for public use.

The community abounds with recreational facilities including an 18-hole golf course, 13-mile hiking/biking trail, Village Park with four ball diamonds, skateboarding area, tennis and volleyball courts, enclosed and open shelter houses, playground equipment, and lighted walking trail.


This area was nothing but mud, muck and mire surrounded by dense forest when it was first settled in 1850, thus it became known as the Great Black Swamp. Prior to that, the area was inhabited by Indian Tribes. The Wyandot and Ottawa Indians had left the area only a few years previously, in 1843, due to the “removal policy” presented by President James Monroe in 1825.

The first settlers of the community were Jacob Dirk, George Franks, Levi A. Tarr and Bassett L. Peters. The people have a history rich in religion and education, combined with a robust heritage typical of the early oil boom and railroading days. One of the first buildings erected served as a combination schoolhouse, church and meeting hall. The structure was built by Peters in 1860 at a cost of $550 and was located on what is now the northwest corner of Main Street and Broadway. This area is presently the site of the Municipal Building, (Fire Station/ Police Department/ Village Hall). At that time (1860), before the town had an official name, it was a small hamlet consisting of two stores, a few dwellings and the meeting hall. The latter building served as the first meeting place for the congregation of the United Brethren Church, which was chartered in 1861 as the first church in Henry Township. Today the congregation is known as The Church of The Good Shepherd United Methodist and is located at 119 West Broadway.

Peters is, unofficially, considered as the founder of the town. He not only built the first school, but was its first school teacher, foreman of the first fire department, co-founder of the town’s first newspaper, helped found the first church and was the first Sunday School Superintendent and later became the town’s first mayor.


In November 1873, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tracks were laid from Chicago, Illinois, as far west as what is today the Tarr Street crossing. The coming of the rails provided the catalyst for the growth of the town. On December 10, 1875, eighty-one residents presented a petition at the County Seat in Bowling Green, for incorporation. But, it wasn’t until February 7, 1876, that the request for incorporation was approved.

The 1880 census credited the village with 701 residents. Also, that was the year the name of the town was changed from New Baltimore to North Baltimore, after it was discovered another town in Ohio had the former name.


The first oil well was drilled on North Second Street, on what was then the Madden property, on June 10, 1886. But, it wasn’t until later that year, December 6, when the most famous early “gusher” was drilled on the Dave Fulton farm, located near the northeast corner of Oil Center and Mitchell Roads at the north edge of town. And with that “gusher” the first Oil Boom to hit Wood County began.

Discovery of natural gas also took place in 1886, when the first well was drilled on the “Peters Farm” on East Broadway. This well was reactivated in 1985 and is still in use in 2011 furnishing the energy supply for the S.M.C. Aluminum Foundry, located on Peters Street near the site of the original gas well.


The pioneer manufacturing industry was Whitlock’s Grist Mill of 1834, that stood on the banks of the Rocky Ford Creek. Discovery of oil and gas caused the community to become a ”Boom Town” in 1886, and brought such industries as the Enterprise Window Glass Works, North Baltimore Bottle Works, Zihlman Flint Glass Works, Central Pressed Brick Company and Bartelle’s Furniture Factory.

All are long gone except the building occupied by the furniture factory on East Cherry Street. It eventually became the Buckeye Match Factory and in 1916 became the location of D.S. Brown Co, which is still in operation here today.

At one time the town had a modern “playhouse” said to be equal to any in the country. Culture came to Main Street North Baltimore in 1884 with the construction of a 1,000 seat Opera House by Dr. A.G. Henry. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1888, rebuilt and burned again in 1894, and was rebuilt only to be destroyed by fire in 1913. Dr. Henry’s tenacity is just one of the many examples of the bold courage and enterprising entrepreneurship of the early settlers.


New transportation facilities to nearby towns became available in 1902 with the completion of the Toledo, Bowling Green and Southern Electric Interurban Streetcar line through North Baltimore. The popularity faded with the advent of the faster more convenient mode of transportation, the automobile, and was discontinued in 1930.

As a reminder of that bygone era, the rails on which the streetcars ran can still be seen under the “hump” in the middle of North Main Street, from Walnut Street north.


THE 1970’s
The decade of the 1970’s proved to be one of considerable progress and changes in the community. This decade could well be called a “Boom Era,” as several new industries moved to the area along with some new Main Street businesses.

New industries of the 1970’s included Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Equity Meats of Ohio , Inc., Duralastics (later ThysenKrupp Budd Co. and now Continental Structural Plastics), Poly One, and Kettle Run Concrete. In addition, Automated Building Components moved their office facilities here, Mid-Wood, Inc. built new offices at 101 East Street, and Blakely Care Center was constructed at 600 Sterling Drive.

The North Baltimore Emergency Medical Service was organized in November 1975. In addition , the first of two reservoirs to be constructed here was built in 1971.

But the big event of the 1970’s happened in July, 1971, with the coming of “The Hippie Park,” at the west edge of the community. The events brought people from all parts of the United States and even from overseas with such notables of the era as Ike and Tina Turner, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Velvet Underground, and others, who performed here. The facility was called a “mini Woodstock.” The operation only lasted for two years.

Also, in 1971, three Main Street buildings, Foodland Grocery, Sugar Bowl and Hoffman’s Drug Store, were razed to make way for what would become the new Mid American Bank, later named Sky Bank, and in 2011 the Huntington Bank. By the end of the decade, 1979, First Federal Savings & Loan had constructed a new facility at 201 South Main Street. Construction of this building required the demolishing of a former gas station and moving of a residence.

No building activities of this magnitude have taken place since the decade of the 1970’s.


North Baltimore has a mayor/council form of government with daily operations handled by a village administrator.


Historical Photos courtesy of Bonnie Knaggs