How It Began

Much of Kent’s early success is due its involvement with the booming railroad industry. However, in the beginning, railroads owners were passing up the opportunity to build in Kent. When Marvin Kent heard this, he made it his goal to convince the railroad owners to build in Kent, knowing that railroads would benefit the town greatly. On March 10, 1851, Marvin received a charter from the Franklin and Warren Railroad Companies, with more railroads to come. Marvin Kent’s continual efforts in acquiring railroads resulted in the town, originally called Franklin Mills, to be renamed to Kent in his honor.

A&GW Railroad Depot

Kent's first depot was a boxcar; the second was a small frame building. When citizens requested a more substantial structure, the railroad's generosity was limited to about 60 percent of the cost. The balance was pledged by the community in a single meeting. Standing above a dam and mill race of the Cuyahoga River, the perfectly symmetrical, red brick depot was built in a Tuscan Revival style with a slate roof. One story segments hyphenated the depot's trio of two-story towers. Stone-arched windows on the upper floor were grouped in threes above a platform canopy dripping with pendants. The first floor housed the ticket and telegraph office, men's and ladies' waiting rooms, and baggage and express rooms. Big double doors on the track side led to an elegant restaurant, whose manager lived upstairs. The second floor also provided bunk space and a "Reading Room" for railroad workers. Just to the south was a wooden freight house; beyond that were rail yards with shops for building and repairing coaches and freight cars. Excerpted from: Great American Railroad Stations by Janet Greenstein Potter, Wiley Press

Agw Yard

See a photo of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad Yard

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Railroad History Timeline


Marvin Kent receives a charter for the Franklin and Warren Railroad Company and the Erie and New York City Railroads are organized.


Marvin Kent, Judge Kinsman, Dr. Earle, and Mr. Boyer of the Franklin and Warren Railroad attending a meeting of representatives with railroad interest at the American Hotel in Cleveland.

Loder, the president of Erie Railroads, finds the proposed train route to be satisfactory after conducting a survey of the area.


Pennsylvania legislature charters the Meadville Railroad Company to build a railroad from Meadville, PA to Erie, PA.

Meadville Railroad Company is organized and William Reynolds is named president.

The Pittsburgh and Erie Railroad Company transfers its branching rights to the Meadville Railroad Company for $400,000. This legally entitles the Meadville Railroad to build branches connecting Erie Railroad, New York City Railroad, and the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad.

The Meadville Railroad ratifies purchase of the branching rights and enters into a contract with A.C. Morton for construction of the railroad.

A. C. Morton enters into a construction contract with the Erie and New York City Railroad. Morton and Henry Doolittle go to Europe to negotiate for iron and money. They return empty-handed and the construction contract with Morton is cancelled. A new construction contract is made with Henry Doolittle and W. S. Streator.


The Meadville Railroad Company changes its name to the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company of Pennsylvania.

C. L. Ward, Henry Doolittle, and William Reynolds go to Europe on behalf of the Ohio and Pennsylvania companies to sell bonds in the companies and purchase iron. James McHenry agrees to support the effort, contingent on his engineer, T. W. Kennard, surveying the route. Salamanca, a Spanish nobleman and banker, places $1 million worth of Atlantic & Great Western bonds in Spain.


The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company of New York is chartered. The new company immediately enters into a contract of mutual guarantee of bonds with Pennsylvania and Ohio companies and purchases the line of the Erie and New York City Railroad.

The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company of New York contracts with Henry Doolittle and W. S. Streator for construction and with James McHenry to sell bonds in the company.


Atlantic and Great Western opens to Corry, PA.

Work is suspended due to financial difficulties; three companies send another delegation to Europe for additional funding.


Central Board of Directors, two from each company, is formed to run the combined companies.

Work begins again.


The Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad is leased to the A&GW for 99 years. A third rail is laid giving wide-gauge access to Cleveland.


The A&GW is connected to the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad at Dayton, OH. This completed a broad gauge link from New York to St. Louis.

William Reynolds resigns as president of the A&GW after 12 years of work.


The company goes into the hands of a receiver, Robert B. Potter of New York.


The Erie Railroad leases the A&GW for 12 years.


Construction work begins on the Atlantic and Great Western Company of New York. By the end of the year, Atlantic and Great Western Company of New York opens from Salamanca to Jamestown.


Jay Gould and W. A. O'Doherty named receivers for the A&GW, then transferred to Reuben Hitchcock of Cleveland.


A second lease is made for Erie Railroad, which is pending foreclosure.


Gen. George McClellan and others purchase the A&GW at foreclosure.


Erie Railroad leases A&GW Railroad for 99 years at terms very favorable to A&GW. This lease was quickly repudiated by the new president of Erie Railroad, Hugh Jewett.

A&GW goes into the hands of a receiver, J. H. Devereaux.


A&GW is sold at foreclosure to five trustees who reorganize it as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad Company.

A&GW is narrowed to standard gauge.


A&GW is leased again to Erie Railroad.


A&GW is sold at foreclosure to representatives of Erie Railroad.