Oberlin Underground Railroad Center


The city of Oberlin is well into the process of restoring this historic Gasholder Building structure and developing and Underground Railroad Center. The structure will serve as a visitors center and a park and ride facility serving cyclists.

The Gasholder Building, built in 1889, is a unique remnant of our industrial heritage, the only known surviving gasholder structure west of the Appalachian Mountains.  The Gasholder Building was used to store manufactured coal gas from 1889 until 1918.  Coal gas provided both light and heat in many late 19th centure cities including Oberlin.  In 1998, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed the “Oberlin Gas Lighting Company Gasholder House” on the National Register of Historic Places.

As an industrial facility, the Gasholder Building was located immediately adjacent to the Toledo, Norwalk, and Cleveland Railway line, in order to transport coal gas to consumers far and wide.  Although the railroad has not operated this route since the 1960s, the railway corridor has been converted to a bike trail and is now part of the 13.1 mile Lorain County section of the North Coast Inland Trail.  It is the City’s intent to rehabilitate the site of the Gasholder Building to develop a “Park & Ride” facility for North Coast Inland bicyclists, in-line skaters, and pedestrians.  The proposed “Park & Ride” would include approximately 22 new parking spaces, a public restroom facility, and other public amenities.

Although the building interior is not yet finished, a visit to see the exterior of this unique structure is worth the trip.

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