MASSILLON — It might not be a treasure trove of gold and silver, but workers replacing a stretch of century-old utility pipe beneath Lincoln Way in the heart of downtown recently unearthed some historic city artifacts.

Dominion Energy workers discovered a two-foot-long section of trolley car track, in addition to a more than 100-year-old piece of wooden water pipe under Lincoln Way near First Street NE in May during its gas line replacement project.

Mandy Altimus Stahl, archivist for the Massillon Museum, said the trolley track likely dates back to the 1890s, when municipal residents and visitors frequently used that mode of transportation. The water pipe is about 130 years old and would have been installed by the Massillon Water Co., which eventually became Aqua Ohio.

“It’s a pretty big deal for the street track. We had not thought something like this would ever come in,” said Stahl, who’s hopeful both items will be displayable in the near future at the museum.

The Massillon Street Railway Co. was started in 1891, according to museum records. The rails installed on Lincoln Way for passenger cars were four-foot gauge rails. Later, they were enhanced — or enlarged — to haul heavy freight from Massillon to Navarre.

Trolley cars used the rails to transport commuters along Lincoln Way from Massillon to Canton, while a southern route went on Erie Street to the former Massillon State Hospital. Popularity of street cars waned in the 1920s, as personal motor vehicles became more convenient and buses became available, Stahl said.

Both the trolley track and water pipe were discovered about three feet beneath the roadway, according to Stahl, who said a worker from Dominion dropped them off to the museum a few weeks ago.

“He just came in and asked if we’d like them,” Stahl said. “And we were like, ‘Sure.’”

For more than two months, Aqua Ohio has been engaged in a waterline replacement effort along Lincoln Way in preparation for the city’s downtown Lincoln Way streetscape initiative. Dominion Energy has been replacing gas lines beneath the highway over that time.

Both replacement efforts are ongoing and should conclude within a couple of weeks, said Greg McCue, a civil engineer with the city.

Work on the main streetscape project is expected to start this week. Lincoln Way — from Erie Street to First Street NE — will be closed to motorized traffic once construction begins.

Pedestrians will be able to access the area during the construction phase, McCue said.

 

Reach Steven at 330-775-1134 or at steven.grazier@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @sgrazierINDE