Historical Artifacts Unearthed During Uptown Maumee Streetscape Renovation

This photo, taken from the 100 block of West Dudley Street near KeyBank, illustrates the trench and exposed railway track in the left foreground as workers measure the depth of the trench. To the right is a precast concrete manhole measuring 48 inches in diameter and standing four feet tall.
A pair of steel railroad tracks from Maumee’s old interurban railway system was unearthed on Tuesday morning as construction workers were trenching a path for new stormwater sewer pipes at the intersection of Conant and West Dudley streets. The rails date back to 1908 and had been buried under the pavement for well over 100 years. MIRROR PHOTOS BY MIKE McCARTHY
These welded metal pipes were discovered during excavation work at the corner of Conant and West Dudley streets. The pipes were found underneath the sidewalk and may have been used long ago to help heat the sidewalk.
A Helms Construction worker levels the precast concrete manhole inside the trench as preparations are made to connect three stormwater sewer pipes into the large cylinder.

BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — It is hauntingly fitting that a few historical Maumee artifacts have been unearthed from their decades-old graves and are seeing new daylight just a week before Halloween. 

Workers from Helms Construction Inc. ran into a few surprises earlier this week as they attempted to install a new storm sewer system underneath the crosswalk at the intersection of Conant and West Dudley streets, located between KeyBank and The Cigar Affair. 

Last week, the workers installed new stormwater catch basins and stormwater pipes on the west side of the 400 block of Conant Street in front of KeyBank and DECA, the site of the former Maumee post office. This week, the goal was to continue that work across West Dudley Street to the northern edge of the 300 block of Conant Street.

The plan for Monday was to cut into the crosswalk between the 100 block of West Dudley Street and Conant Street, install the new stormwater sewer pipes and a new manhole structure, and then backfill the trench and restore the crosswalk to a useable state.

As often seems to happen on Mondays, however, plans hit a snag. Helms Construction workers ran into a delay when they encountered an unmarked electrical conduit crossing directly in the path of the new storm sewer pipes. The conduit ran westward across Conant Street and supplied the electrical lines to the traffic signal located at the corner of Conant and West Dudley.

At first, officials thought they may have to tear out the electrical lines and have them retrenched below the path of the new storm sewers, but instead they were able to lower the storm sewer piping by just 4 inches to clear the conduit and continue their path across the crosswalk.

While excavating earth on Monday, construction workers discovered metal piping located underneath the sidewalk near the traffic signal on West Dudley Street. They soon surmised that the hand-welded pipes had likely been used at some point in the past to heat the sidewalks in the 100 block of West Dudley Street adjacent to KeyBank. 

Further investigation led to eight access points, covered by 12-inch metal lids, located along the sidewalk which may have been used to monitor or regulate pressure for the steam or boiling water contained within the pipes. A boiler system likely kept the water heated. It was not clear in which era these pipes may have been used, but their access points survived previous sidewalk repairs and are still in plain sight today.

On Tuesday morning, workers uncovered a pair of steel railroad tracks from the 114-year-old interurban light rail system that used to run along West Dudley Street from the former interurban station at Dudley and Allen streets, which is now Jacky’s Depot.

According to Maumee historian Jack Hiles, this portion of the railway was built in 1908 and was known as the Toledo, Bowling Green & Southern railway. It hooked up with the original stretch of the old interurban railway on Conant Street, which was built in 1895 and ran back and forth from Perrysburg.

Once the surprises were dealt with, progress continued Tuesday across West Dudley Street with the installation of the new sewer lines, which are made of PVC and measure 10 inches in diameter. The pipe will feed into a new 48-inch precast concrete manhole section which is being installed several feet below the road surface. The manhole will be supplied by the new stormwater sewer lines running parallel to the sidewalks, which will carry stormwater into the circular manhole from the north and south along Conant Street. 

An adjacent 10-inch PVC pipe will carry the stormwater from the manhole westward along West Dudley Street toward Allen Street, where it will travel through the system and will eventually be dumped as clean water into the Maumee River.

One of the major goals of the $14 million Uptown Maumee Streetscape Improve-ments Project is to bring Maumee’s outdated water and sewer system into compliance with Ohio EPA standards.

Curb installation in the 300 block of Conant Street is expected to take place this week, followed by the installation of new sidewalks within the next week or two.

City officials hope to complete the 300 block of Conant Street and reach West Wayne Street before the construction season ends in late November.

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