Although the dominant pattern of Bexley’s growth was west to east, development also moved northward up the North Cassady corridor.
The B & O Railroad tracks served as both a definitive northern edge to Bexley and as a major transportation resource for large industrial plants along the East Fifth Avenue corridor.
In 1901, the Rarig Manufacturing Plant was constructed parallel and adjacent to the railroad tracks, which provided over two acres under roof for major steel construction products such as boilers and bridge girders. Over 72 train cars of equipment were brought in to set up the operation.
(More information about the Rarig Manufacturing Plant can be found at https://rarig.com/about-us/history/.)
In 1905, the Rarig Manufacturing Plant was sold and transformed into the Ralston Steel Company to build box cars and gondolas to service the railroad industry. At its prime in 1940, the company employed over 700 people and built 25-30 railroad cars a day before closing in 1953.
Employee housing was constructed in nearby subdivisions – including Thomas Cassady’s farm – creating what was then called East Columbus.
Former Bexley Mayor, Ken McClure’s memoir, “Reflections of a Bexley Boy”1, recalls that a Ralston Company employee picnic ground was located at North Cassady and Maryland Avenue, “It was a park for employees and had great big trees, a few of which remain. There were big swings and a picnic ground for any of the Ralston employees who wanted to have a party.”2
This is, perhaps, another Bexley mystery!
It appears that all of the quadrants of that intersection were generally developed in the early-mid 1920’s. If the park was indeed one of those quadrants, then the use of the park ceased very early in the history of the company.
Research shows that the last remaining area to be developed along North Cassady was one block north of Maryland, bounded by North Cassady, Ruhl, Northview and Caroline Avenues. Platted in 1946, the subdivision was called “Bexley Woods” and, indeed, still has several very large trees along its northern edge.
One block north of the North Cassady and Maryland intersection… Could this be the long forgotten and maybe not so lost Ralston Employee Park?
Written by Lawrence Helman, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
Edited by Martina Campoamor, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
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1Ken McClure, Reflections of A Bexley Boy (Canal Winchester, North Stream Publishing, 1996), 16. This book is available at the Bexley Historical Society.