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Forgotten Bluffton: A power plant and a quarry

By Fred Steiner

Why is there a lake on Jefferson Street between Riley Creek and the Norfolk Southern Railroad?

For viewers who may be unaware, the site of John's Body Shop on Lake Street was once a large coal-fired power plant. It was razed in 1982.

And, the lake, now known as Cob Lake was originally called the National Quarry. Prior to it becoming a lake, it was a stone quarry.

This history of the quarry and Woodcock plant includes several photographs. At the bottom of this story you will find information about the photos.

A brief history of the stone quarry
The quarry, now filled with water, was once a working quarry operated by the National Lime Stone and Quarry Company.

On Sept. 19, 1929, the large building at the quarry was destroyed in an early evening fire. Damage was reported at $300,000–the equivalent of $4.9 million in 2022.

Breaking out about 6 p.m. the fire was beyond control by the time the fire department arrived. With the entire upper story of the larger crusher structure a mass of flames, a continual rain of sparks was whipped by a high wind over residential and business sections more than a mile away, and several small roof fires had to be extinguished.

The stone plant was not rebuilt following the disaster, throwing about 25 men out of work.

Power plant built in 1937-38
The quarry grounds stood idle until 1938 when a $1 million power generating plant was erected near the site by the Central Ohio Light and Power Co. The quarry grounds were purchased by the company and water of the quarry used for cooling purposes in operation of the plant.

The plant generating the power was known as the Woodcock Plant. Central Ohio merged into the Ohio Power Co. in 1955. The plant was taken out of service in 1958.

In 1967 Ohio Power reactivated the generating station. In 1975 the plant was shut down for the final time. Eschlish Wrecking Co. of Louisville, Ohio, purchased the Woodcock building in 1982 for $65,000. The village purchased the National Quarry in 1982 for $25,000.

Featured in Model Railroader magazine
Model Railroader magazine published a detailed story of the Woodcock plant in its July 2011 issue. Fred Steiner provided the magazine with a black and white photograph of the plant taken in 1953, which Jim Hediger, senior editor, then described of each of the plant’s features. A portion of that story follows:

"The Central Ohio Light and Power Co. opened this plant, named Woodcock Station, in 1937. At the time COL&P supplied service to 37 communities including Findlay, North Baltimore and Wooster.

"The company’s Eastern Division had 310 miles of transmission and distribution lines radiating from Wooster. Its Western Division operated two other steam generating plants, one in Findlay and another in St. Marys that was used for standby service. They served more than 200 miles of transmission lines."

Read the entire story at