THE SPRINGFIELD PIKE
by Charles F. Sullivan
Originally, Mad River made a big bend, from the present location of Findlay Street, to the corner of Keowee and First then through Pond Street to Webster, then back to the present mouth of Mad River. When this was changed to the present river channel, the old channel had a number of ponds in it and so we have the name of Pond Street. During high water, the river used an overflow channel running from Keowee and First to Montgomery, to Mad River street and Burns Avenue to the river north of the Fairgrounds.
Much of the land between Patterson Boulevard and Front Street and north of Third, and consisting Monument Avenue, First and Second were discontinued at the Patterson Boulevard then used by the canal.
Third Street was the highway from Dayton to the east and northeast. Third street was laid out straight with that street in the city and extended to Linden Avenue then called Xenia Avenue, there it turned a little to the north and it is called Springfield Street. This was done to avoid the big hill south of the Focke plant. As this was all in low ground, very little building was done, until after the river had been levied.
Mad River was straightened as it is today from Findlay Street to its mouth at the Miami River, in 1842. The canal was given a new channel, parallel to the river in 1845, but now it is used by the Frigidaire plant for parking space for the autos of their employees.
The Mad River & Lake Erie railroad was built in 1851, starting from the present freight house of the N Y C lines, east to the big hill at Focke’s, crossing the pike there and then on to the Harshmanville depot and warehouse, just south of the Harshman residence.
On through there and crossing the Harshmanville road, calling that Harries station. Then it curved to the north making a second dangerous crossing of the pike. To get around the hill at Huffman Dam they made a bench around close to the bottom through Osborn and Enon to Springfield. Later the railroad was straightened out to avoid these crossings. Also both of these stations were abolished. The location of the pike is just as it was in the early days, but is now almost built up solid.
Just before reaching Harshmanville, the Yellow Springs road forks off to the right and ran with the compass to Yellow Springs.
This road has been changed during this war to give the Wright Field more room.
Just beyond these forks, there was a large brick distillery operated by Harshman, four stories high which burned to the ground about 1881, in spite of help sent out from Dayton. This was never rebuilt, only the small brick office building remains and it is used for a residence. East of this along the left side of the road, are a few brick residences used by Harshman’s employees at that time but now are rented. Here the road curved and joined the Harshmanville Road and after a square curved again away from it, to the east. A few years ago this road was widened, paved and straightened out, making a much better road. A portion of the old road still shows between Riverside (the present name for Harshmanville) and the big hill. This pike went over this hill on a road not always a two lane road and rough and steep.
On the Harshmanville Road used jointly with the Springfield, was an old flour mill, which was still in operation in my boyhood days, run by water power. This was removed about 1935.
Beyond this big hill, was a level road to Fairfield, Osborn, Enon, and to Springfield. Fairfield is still there, known by its old time houses, and just beyond is Osborn, removed from its old location near the river, by the Miami Conservancy.
The Dayton Springfield and Urbana Traction was built about the beginning of the century and it used the old railroad right of way through Harshmanville, abandoned by them a few years before.
Between the big hill and Fairfield, the land was very swampy and prairie grass grew there higher than the head and we frequently went there for some of this grass for a winter bouquet.
This is now all Patterson Field, and lots of men work there, this is not good for the rattlesnakes that formerly lived there without any competition.
When the Miami Conservancy took over, they built the Huffman Dam across the Valley pike and made a concrete roadway across the top with a fence along each side. They ran the pike and Traction over the top. The railroad is in a cut but with an embankment to protect it from high water. The Traction quit business several years ago and gasoline busses now take care of the traffic.
Between the Conservancy and the war this is all upset, nothing is as it used to be. Patterson Field is using much land between Fairfield and the Huffman Dam. The Wright Memorial is upon the hill and Wright Field, south and west of the hill to Harshmanville now called Riverside, have added much land and employing many men.
This has built up much of the ground around Osborn and Fairfield and it is built almost solid to Dayton. The telephone system has its exchange in our main telephone building, so service to it is just as prompt as it is here in the city. From the dam east, you enter Greene County for a few miles when you enter Clarke Couty.
When we drove the horse and carriage to this Huffman Prairie, we usually went by the Springfield and crossed Mad River on a wooden bridge and came back over the Valley pike.
In my boyhood days, there was very few houses in this territory, but now a wonderful change has taken place and these houses are all filled and besides them many men come to these fields every day to work, living in the city.
The city has now bought the entire bed of Mad River and is using it to obtain water for domestic use. It is a fine product clear and cold as fine as can be had any where.
This is all brought to the pumping plant on Ottowa street where it is pumped into the system, that covers the entire city and some in the county.
Chas. F. Sullivan Dec. 6, 1943
114 East Idaho Street Apt. C