200 years ago, at the turn of the 19th century, the city
of Bowling Green didn’t even exist. Instead, a massive
swamp covered much of Northwestern Ohio. Thick with trees
and marshes that made it virtually impassable, it was the
last bastion of wilderness and mystery in the state of Ohio.
Settlers steered clear of it for fear of the Natives and
the native wildlife that inhabited the Swamp.
Then, in 1832, an intrepid pioneer by the name of Elisha
Martindale trekked down an old Indian trail and claimed
a 40-acre swath of land in the swamp. This property stood
nearby the present-day location of Conneaut School. Within
the next decade, numerous settlers had made their way into
the Great Black Swamp. In 1834, postal carrier Joseph Gordon
bestowed the name of Bowling Green on the newly built local
post office, after his hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
But the name “Bowling Green” didn’t officially
stick as the settlement’s title at first. Along present-day
Napoleon Rd., pioneers were building a settlement called
“Mount Ararat”, because of its location on a
patch of higher ground above the marshy lowlands. And a
Tavern, Inn, and Blacksmith’s Shop built by John Hannon
near the present-day intersection of Poe Rd. and Main St.
was called “Hannon’s Corners.”
In 1846, L.C. Locke built his home and a store near what
would become the downtown of Bowling Green. Encouraged by
his success, other businessmen decided to build in the area.
Shortly before the Civil War broke out in 1860, a massive
project was undertaken to drain the Great Black Swamp, greatly
increasing the influx of new settlers. What was once a labyrinth
of festering marshlands crisscrossed by sand ridges leftover
from the receding shores of Lake Erie became a lush patchwork
of fertile farmland. Bowling Green is the only city entirely
located within the former borders of the Great Black Swamp.
Bowling Green achieved village status in 1855 and was officially
incorporated, marking the year in which B.G. was founded.
The following year local elections were held and John C.
Wooster was chosen to be the first mayor of Bowling Green.
Emboldened by the new status of the town and the growth
of local businesses, the local citizens began aggressively
pursuing the coveted privilege of having the county seat
placed in B.G. A battle with Perrysburg ensued, with the
county seat eventually being won by B.G. in 1868. Towards
the end of the 19th century, as Northwestern Ohio became
more settled, discoveries of oil and natural gas deposits
In 1884, Natural Gas was struck in large quantities. Deposits
in Allen, Wood, Hancock, and Sandusky counties provided
the majority of this new commodity. These discoveries lead
to a boom in growth for the region. Real Estate values went
through the roof and populations swelled as wealthy businessmen
relocated into the area to lend their capital in the formation
of a large number of local gas companies. One of these,
the Ohio Gas Company, later became Marathon Oil, which today
is a worldwide provider of fossil fuels and renewable energy
With offers of free gas lines and the prospect of fortunes
to be made in the gas business, many other businesses located
themselves in Northwestern Ohio. Most notably, the glassworks
industry was attracted to the area. For a short time, Bowling
Green earned the nickname ‘The Crystal City’,
because of the numerous glassworks businesses in operation.
The population boom lasted until around 1910, when supplies
of oil and natural gas began to diminish, and in 1917, Northwest
Ohio no longer placed in the top 4 oil-producing regions
of the U.S. At the height of the boom, Bowling Green was
home to over 50,000 people.
In 1901, the village had grown enough to receive city status
from the state. Then, in 1914, the Bowling Green Normal
College (now Bowling Green State University) opened its
doors, adding further prestige to the community.
Today, Bowling Green is the county seat for Wood County
and more than 17,000 students attend Bowling Green State
University annually. The rich, textured history of B.G.
and Wood County is largely to thank for the fact that Bowling
Green is one of the finest places of its size to live in.