The Richland Album: Hitching Rails

This is the law of time: for every hour we go on there is an hour that slips behind, so that for every bit of gain there is equal loss. In order to enter the future we must relinquish the past.

As each generation creates its own new version of America, the old way, the old style, passes into history, and as each wave of people takes the stage to witness a particular and unique new story, so it watches the putting away of sets and scenery and props from the play just concluded.

This series of photo essays takes a look at landmarks from the past that were once common and familiar components of the landscape to Richlanders long since passed on. A hundred and fifty years ago folks couldn’t really imagine a county without water-powered mills, without covered bridges, without livery stables. Today the only way you have to picture these sights is with our virtual Richland Album.

This collection of pages from the virtual album features Richland County’s hitching rails and hitching posts. For about half of the county’s history no business place could do without them if they wanted folks in carriages, wagons or on horseback to stop there and dismount.

They were a standard feature of every village and town until the decades when automobiles started parking where horses once idled.


This photo shows hitching rails on Diamond Street in front of the Richland County courthouse around 1888.

The Square in Mansfield also had about a hundred upright solitary hitching posts around its perimeter. Business owners around the Square were happy for the horse-drawn customers, but said the smell was driving city folk away. They wanted the horses parked a block away in a livery stable.

So one night when no one was looking all the hitching posts were mysteriously removed. The protests that ensued were epic.
In 1873 when this photo was taken there were hitching posts placed around the Square to keep folks from tying their horses to the fence. The photographer climbed onto the roof of his shop on North Park Street to document the old and the new courthouses.


Downtown businessmen in Plymouth welcomed horse-drawn customers with two-tiered parking: heavy rails for wagons & rigs (below), and posts closer to the sidewalk for riders on single horses. (above)


In downtown Shiloh hitching rails were placed next to the Lutheran Church where today the parking spaces don’t require a tethering post.


Hitching rails in Lexington along Main Street (1880s) and the park (1909).


The hitching rails in Bellville ran clear through the business district and on past the park.


Hitching rails on both sides of Main Street in Butler around 1913. Some of the buildings seen above no longer exist after a major fire.


In this view of downtown Lucas (above) there are hitching rails on both sides of the street, and a substantial watering trough on the left to make horses even more welcome. A horse is hitched to the rail (below) next to the Charles building, that still stands on the corner.

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