Recently the Tribune Chronicle reported the ongoing city project to clean up city-owned vacant property at the southwest corner of South and Main streets, known as the former gasification plant property.
Most Warren-area residents have little knowledge of the history of this ‘Corner.’ The site is very historic due to its being the site of founder Warren Ephraim Quinby’s first log cabin.
This fact is documented in the 1882 History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties (Williams) page 242, Vol. I. Subsequently circa 1856, the Mahoning Valley’s first railroad, the Cleveland and Mahoning, erected its passenger station at this corner, which stood until 1965.
In October of 1861, soon after the start of the Civil War, the Warren Gaslight Company was formed to furnish artificial gas for street lighting and other business and residential uses. The plant burned and baked coal to produce the gas which was then piped to various parts of ‘Old Warren.’ The city’s first street lighting system was built and can be seen in some of the oldest photos of the downtown. (Natural gas did not come to Warren until the World War I era.) The artificial gas plant included two large circular gas holder structures which served to regulate gas pressure.
The gas plant was closed circa 1932, and the property was sold and became a scrap-iron business. The brick retort-ovens building stood until c. 1992, near the Mahoning River.
Adding to the historical connection to this property is the former Lock 15 of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal, located at the southwest corner of the four parcels. It is likely that the Lock’s stonework is buried under the city-owned parking lot behind the Warren Flea Market area. The Canal site is recorded in the Consultant’s 2010 project report.
I would like to publicly thank Mike Keys, city community development director, for promoting this project for its environmental and historic value. Hopefully, an Ohio Historical marker can be placed to display the significance of this property.