Historical photos tell stories of the city

Historical photos tell stories of the city

Image Credit: Teri Stein

If you’d like to see what the Dover area looked like in the past and be transported back in time, your wish has come true with a new project by the Canal Dover Association.

The Canal Dover Association is a civic organization focused on improving the downtown area, and it participates in most activities in Dover.

A bed tax grant from the City of Dover to the CDA provided the funding for the project, which came about after new traffic lights were installed, leaving in their wake some rather large and unsightly control boxes.

The CDA has added historic images to traffic boxes along Wooster Avenue from the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds to near the Drug Mart Plaza on the north end. Each image is related to the location where it is posted.

Volkert said the idea came up about four years ago, and after the organization was awarded the grant, there were a few delays. The company they were going to work with was sold, and then the COVID-19 pandemic caused more problems, but they were able to get the project back on track this year.

“We were able to put up a total of 11 images, and we tried as much as possible to relate them to their locations, and in most cases they’re directly at, near or across from where they were taken,” Volkert said. “For instance, down at the fairgrounds, there’s a very good picture of flat track race with motorcyclists.”

The photo is near the main entrance to the fairgrounds. All of the photos in the project are located on light boxes on or directly off Wooster Avenue.

Going north on Wooster, the next image is at West Broadway.

“It depicts a flood scene from 1910. Most of the houses that are shown in the picture exist and are easily seen,” Volkert said.

Another photo is located at Front Street just off Wooster Avenue. The photograph is of a steel bridge that existed around the turn of the century.

“It shows the scene of the bridge and a little boy sitting on a piece of sandstone off to the side,” Volkert said.

The next light box is at Second Street by Benson’s Market and Catering.

“It shows Weaver’s Used Cars in the late 1950s, which was across the street on the south (corner.) They occupied a couple of lots, more or less, where Elite Tire is now,” Volkert said.

At the square where the LifeBridge Community Church now stands is a photo of the Reeves Military Band taken in about 1910.

“If you look to the right of where the image is, you’ll see the exact location where the picture was taken,” Volkert said.

The same is true for the photo located at Fourth Street and Wooster in front of the Fourth and Faith Building of the St. John’s Church, which used to be the Fred P. Potschner Ford dealership.

“There’s a photograph that was taken in 1937, and the reason I know that is in looking closely at the picture, you see a ‘37 Ford in the showroom and you see the back of a ‘36 Ford parked outside,” Volkert said.

At West Slingluff just off Wooster Avenue, the photo featured is a small distance from where it was taken.

“It shows some workers from the Northern Ohio Traction and Light, which was a trolley company,” Volkert said.

The company operated electric interurban rail lines. The photo is a view of the front of a trolley car, and a child of one of the workers is sitting on the headlight. “The car barn where this would have been taken was actually where the Subway Plaza is, so it’s not very far from where it was taken,” Volkert said.

A photo at 13th Street and Wooster depicts a 1953 class photo from the Dover Avenue School.

The photo at 21st Street is an aerial view of a test track at the Toomey Farm, which extended from the west side of 17th Street to 21st Street. The Toomey company and the Toomey family were very important in early Dover.

“On the one side of the box is a copy of an ad for the Toomey Sulky,” Volkert said. “On East Second Street, more or less, behind the fire station is where the Toomey company manufactured wagons.”

At the time sulky racing was huge, and Sam Toomey, the patriarch of the family, devised a super lightweight sulky with a patented trust rear axle.

“They were shipped all over the country and into Europe. It was a very successful company,” Volkert said. “One of them was put on display in the Henry Ford Museum.”

A member of the Toomey family was friends with Henry Ford, who came to Dover personally to pick up the sulky. This would have happened sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.

Sam Toomey also was Dover’s first volunteer fire chief in 1873.

The light box at the entrance to the park of 23rd Street has a photo taken the day the Dover City Park pool opened in 1971.

The last photo has been placed near the Drug Mart Plaza.

“It depicts the bridge, which was on Schneider’s Crossing over the Sugar Creek, and it was the last covered bridge in Tuscarawas. County,” Volkert said. “The photo was taken in 1939, just before it was replaced with a steel bridge.”

The project cost just over $5,000, and the material the photos are made of is the same material that is used to wrap vehicles.

“They should have a pretty long life. It’s intended to be weather resistant and not fade,” Volkert said. “At some point they’ll need replaced and may be replaced with a different image.”

The City of Dover has been awarded a grant to replace some other traffic lights in town, and when that happens, Volkert would like to see more photos added to any new light boxes.

The images wrap around one corner of the light boxes.

“They’re intended both for pedestrians and people driving by,” Volkert said. “We want to take away some of the ugly of the big boxes.”