Posted in Barberton History, Barberton Rail

Railroad and Religion

How does a new little railroad get wrapped up in a religious competition? In a small town, anything is possible. Enjoy this bit of Barberton History.

The year was 1892, and Barberton was off to a booming start. Not just in terms of manufacturing and population, but also in the arena of religion.

During that year, two notable church congregations were in the process of constructing their respective houses of worship. At the corner of 3rd Street NW and W. Paige Ave., construction of the United Brethren Church was underway. Across the lake, at the corner of 7th Street and Lake Ave., a new Catholic church was in the works. As these were the first churches of the new community, and they were practically neighbors, a neighborly competition was unavoidable.

Church Map

Church Bell Competition Map

The first congregation to complete construction was to ring its church bell signaling the first church service in Barberton.

As the Catholic church neared completion it became clear that their new bell would not be ready for the first service.  Not willing to let victory slip away, several parishioners requested a bell from the newly formed Barberton Belt Line Railroad. With bell in hand, parishioners hoisted a locomotive bell into the church bell tower.  On August 27, 1892 (the feast day of St. Augustine) Barberton’s original belt line helped celebrated Barberton’s first church service.

Akron Churches: Early Architecture (Images of America: Ohio)