A trolley car from the Dayton, Springfield & Urbana line.

At 2 p.m., on October 16, at the Fairborn Senior Center, the Fairborn Area Historical Society will present a program about the interurban trolley. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, before improved highways were built, a network of electric trains, or trolleys, connected small towns and major cities in Midwestern states like Ohio and Indiana. One line in particular, the Dayton, Springfield, and Urbana, ran through both Fairfield and Osborn. Hardly high-speed rail, the trolley moved slowly enough to stop and pick up passengers who would flag it down between scheduled stops. Nonetheless, the DS&U and the network to which it was connected allowed people to travel during a time when often the only other option was walking or riding a horse.

In the days when Fairfield and Osborn were two separate towns, before Osborn was moved next to Fairfield, the trolley ran down the middle of what we know today as Broad Street. From there it went north to Osborn (which was located about where the WPAFB flightline is today), where it ran through the middle of town on “Railroad Street” before heading to Medway.

route of DSU copy

The electricity to run the trolley was produced in a power plant in Medway—a small park sits at that location of that plant today. Scott Suther, a member of the Medway Area Historical Society, has done extensive research on the interurban trolley and will share the results of his research at our October 16 meeting. Scott’s Power Point presentation includes many unusual photos and anecdotes about not only the trolley, but also about the people who worked for the DS&U and the people who rode the trains. Two well-known passengers on the DS&U were the Wright Brothers, who rode the trolley to their flying field at Huffman Prairie.

The public is welcome to attend the October 16 meeting and presentation. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served. If you have stories about the “traction line,” we would love to hear them at the meeting!