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September 19, 2021

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Historical Bluffton

Main Street snapshot circa 1915


There are times when small packages offer huge surprises. This photo represents one of those times. The original photo is a snapshot measuring 2 by 3 inches. It is taken from a family album, but carries no explanation.

When enlarged the photo reveals much. Of course, you recognized the view is Main Street Bluffton taken from what today would be in front of Common Grounds coffee shop looking north. Judging the Ford Model T on the left, which appears to resemble a 1915 model, that puts this photo in the mid-1910s.

The final steam through Bluffton


Here's a rare black and white photo of the last-ever steam locomotive to pass through Bluffton. It was in the mid-1980s.

The Lima-built NKP Berkshire locomotive was pulling a steam fan excersion train from Muncie, Ind., to Bellevue. The trackage through Bluffton since has been downgraded by Norfolk Southern. Steam locomotives are too heavy to risk travel on the local rails.

When steam ruled the rails

NKP 703 pulls a fast freight through Bluffton toward Bellevue

When steam ruled - Click on photo to enlarge

Here's a poor quality, but important photo of Bluffton in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The scene is from Cherry Street looking south toward Railroad Street.

The Bluffton depot, which is now located at the Buckeye park, was alive with activity, servicing as a stop on the Nickel Plate Railroad. The depot served passengers and freight stops. The freight train heading north toward Bellevue is pulled by Lima-built Berkshire 703.

50,000 pounds of wool wanted

Bluffton's Russell Hotel

Click on photo to enlarge.

Here's an extremely rare glimpse of Main Street Bluffton prior to 1900. The photograph is a tintype measuring 6 1/2 by 9 inches. Of all the tintype photos taken of Bluffton, this is the largest we've ever seen.

The photograph shows the Russell Hotel. It was once located where the Citizens National Bank is today on the west side of Main Street. There are other photos of the hotel that can be seen in early Bluffton post cards of Main Street.

Methodist Episcopal choir circa 1910

Methodist Episcopal Church choir


This photo is a real gem.

Here is the Bluffton Methodist Episcopal choir. Fortunately someone took the time to write the names of the members, so today, although most of the names are unfamiliar to us, we, at least know who they are. Beyond that there are several other things in the photo worth pointing out.

First the members: Standing from left, Oren (Soapy), Florence Bogart, (woman unidentified), Alice Lambert Lugibill and Effa Grindell.

Ice storm of the century?

Ice storm of the century?


If there's such a thing as a "100-year flood," meaning a flood that only occurs every 100 years, then this photo must be the "100-year winter ice storm." Nothing is written on the back of the photo, but there are several things to point out to tell the story to viewers in 2010.

First, the photo was taken in Bluffton by an unknown photographer. The scene is South Main Street, looking south. The house on the left appears to be 321 S. Main, what is today The Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast, owned by Joan Bauman.