History of Bellefontaine, Ohio
Welcome to Bellefontaine!
We just celebrated our 200th birthday as a city in 2020.
As mayor, I’m pleased to tell you a little about Bellefontaine, both its history and its modern day story.
Bellefontaine is the county seat of Logan County, Ohio. It was named after the French word for “beautiful spring”, since several limestone springs once existed in the area. Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket had a village located on the site of Bellefontaine. Established in 1820, Bellefontaine grew slowly, having only 610 residents in 1835. That same year, the town contained four churches, one newspaper office, and eleven stores.
The summer of 1837 forever changed Bellefontaine. In July of that year, the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad Company completed the first railroad in Bellefontaine. Bellefontaine truly became a major railroad town in the 1890s when the Big Four Railroad Company (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, & St. Louis) made it one of their main terminals. Bellefontaine served many important functions as a terminal. Today, very little remains from our rich railroading history.
Bellefontaine's Historic Timeline
Other Historical Facts
- George Bartholomew is celebrated as the man who brought cement and concrete to the Midwest. Called "artificial stone" in the 19th century, the newfangled mixture called concrete hadn't yet been used to pave streets. George convinced the Bellefontaine City Council to try it in 1891 on Court Avenue, around the Logan County. (A section of Court Avenue remains paved today with Bartholomew's formula, celebrated as the first concrete paved street in America. A statue of George Bartholomew (pictured) stands on Court Avenue to commemorate this achievement.)
- Bellefontaine is home to McKinley Street, the shortest street in America (20 ft.).
- Bellefontaine is home to The Holland Theatre (1931), the only Dutch Style Theatre in our nation.
- Some notable past residents: Edward D. Jones (BHS 1913), Norman Vincent Peale (b-1998), The Mills Brothers (1200 records, over 50 million sold; in the 1920’s The Mills Brothers became the first African-American vocal group to perform on national radio. Signed by CBS recording. Their performing years spanned 5 decades.)
- In 1951, the 664 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (Soviet Union and Cold War) was located at Campbell Hill. This area also marks the highest point in Ohio.
- Our most recent claim to fame is local snowboarder, Louie Vito. Vito was an Olympic Athlete in 2010 and has won numerous medals in the Winter X-Games and other International Snowboarding Events. Not to mention, Vito was also on the popular TV show, "Dancing with The Stars."