“Alliance’s Golden Age of Steam,” the second of three programs of the Alliance Railroad History series, will roll into Rodman Public Library’s Main Auditorium for two presentations on Monday, Sept. 13.
Sponsored by the Alliance Area Preservation Society, Robb Hyde will discuss the impact of railroads in Alliance between the Civil War and World War I, an era commonly known as the Golden Age of Steam, and explain how in many ways it was Alliance’s golden age as well.
Hyde, president of the AAPS, will present “Alliance’s Golden Age of Steam” twice – once at 11:00 a.m. and again at 7:00 p.m. The programs are free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling 330-821-2665, ext. 107, or by visiting the Rodman Public Library online calendar at rodmanlibrary.evanced.info/signup.
In March 2020, Hyde delivered the first part of the series to a Rodman Public Library audience, explaining how Alliance was a child of steam, getting its birth at what was known as The Crossing as the railroad got up and running and into the Civil War. (Watch Part I here).
“Alliance’s Golden Age of Steam” will trace the growing strength of railroads in America and how the transportation advantages provided to Alliance by the railroads accelerated the growth of industry and population in our community. It was a time of new inventions, new businesses, and new relationships between capital and labor. It was a time of great optimism tempered by daunting social and economic realities.
“The railroad was here so there was this great transportation system,” explains Hyde. “As a result, you got Morgan Engineering, Transue & Williams, American Steel – all of those things happening. It was a boom time for Alliance and an interesting time both locally and nationally.”
“Alliance’s Golden Age of Steam” will highlight numerous stories that reflect both the unique history of our community and the story of America as a rising industrial and world power. Among the stories included are the 60-year period that the father and son team of Drs. John K. and John H. Tressel served as railroad surgeons in town, the impact of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the tense relationship between Alliance government and the Pennsylvania Railroad, how the allure of railroad investment brought two decades of financial strife for famed Dr. Levi Lamborn, the building and destruction of the first viaduct on the east end of Main Street, and the World War I “Angel of the Depot,” who also helped lead Alliance’s fight against the Spanish flu pandemic.
Hyde, who plans to debut the third part of the series in 2022, said he became interested in the history of railroads in Alliance after being posed a question while delivering a presentation about Alliance’s historic downtown district as part of the Continued Learning Program at the University of Mount Union.
“Dr. Art Murdoch asked if I knew anything about railroads,” explained Hyde. “I said that I knew a little bit and I gave him a wrong answer. And Dr. Murdoch replied that no one really seemed to know much about it either.”
Hyde noted that moment piqued his interest.
“I thought that it was strange that the whole reason the town was even here was because of the railroad and no one seemed to know the facts,” added Hyde. “No one had done much about it.”
Hyde said he determined at that moment to find the answers.
“I started to do a little bit of research and found that it was quite interesting,” said Hyde. “There is a lot of material on the broad scale and even here locally. I found there was an interesting story to be told about both the town and the railroad.”
Hyde is the retired director of the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster and previously spent 15 years at the Canton Museum of Art as director of marketing and development. He holds a BA in communications from Mount Union College and an MBA in marketing from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a past president of the Ohio Museums Association, served as chair for Leave a LegacyStark County, and served on the city of Alliance’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Castle Crusaders’ Capital Campaign Committee.
The Alliance Area Preservation Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic structures through education, research and documentation. It also owns and operates the Haines House, 186 W. Market St. in Alliance (www.haineshoue.org), an Underground Railroad site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.