The Middle Grounds
The Island House on the Middle Grounds area of Toledo is shown as it appeared around 1880. Next to the building is a train shed with railroad cars stored next to it. The wharf and a horse-drawn wagon is also visible. (Publisher: Toledo-Lucas County Public Library)
The area between Swan Creek and the Maumee River is called the Middle Grounds, an important location that quickly became the center of Toledo's commercial growth. Early on in Toledo's development, the major means of transportation: lake vessels, canal boats and railroads, all converged here – creating an area of intense commercial activity. Docks, warehouses, grain elevators, and the city's train depot were all built on and along the Middle Grounds. There were hotels, boarding houses and even a church for the railroaders and sailors. The historic Oliver House (1859) sits on the highest point on the Middle Grounds.
Unfortunately, a destructive flood in 1883 changed the Middle Grounds forever. As a result, the train depot was moved to higher ground and in time the area was downgraded to freight rail yards and warehousing. Declining use of the canal forced grain elevators to relocate upriver. By the 1880's, this once busy commercial area fell into neglect and was all but forgotten. Thankfully, in 1997 Owens Corning built its corporate headquarters on the Middle Grounds creating a welcome resurgence for this historic area.