Bellefontaine, Ohio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bellefontaine, Ohio
Logan County courthouse in Bellefontaine
Logan County courthouse in Bellefontaine
Official seal of Bellefontaine, Ohio
The Peak of Ohio
Location of Bellefontaine, Ohio
Location of Bellefontaine, Ohio
Detailed map of Bellefontaine
Detailed map of Bellefontaine
Coordinates: 40°21′39″N 83°45′29″W / 40.36083°N 83.75806°W / 40.36083; -83.75806Coordinates: 40°21′39″N 83°45′29″W / 40.36083°N 83.75806°W / 40.36083; -83.75806
CountryUnited States
 • MayorBen Stahler (R)
 • Total10.05 sq mi (26.02 km2)
 • Land10.05 sq mi (26.02 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation1,243 ft (379 m)
 • Total13,370
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,318.70/sq mi (509.17/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area codes937, 326
FIPS code39-05130[5]
GNIS feature ID1064407[2]

Bellefontaine (/bɛlˈfntən/ bel-FOWN-tən)[6] is a city in and the county seat of Logan County, Ohio, United States,[7] located 48 miles (77 km) northwest of Columbus. The population was 13,370 at the 2010 Census. It is the principal city of the Bellefontaine, OH Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Logan County. The highest point in Ohio, Campbell Hill, is within the city limits.


The name Bellefontaine means "beautiful spring" in French, and is purported to refer to several springs in the area.[8] However, locally, the original French pronunciation is not used, and it is pronounced "bell fountain."

Blue Jacket's Town[edit]

Around 1777, the Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket (Weyapiersenwah) built a settlement here, known as "Blue Jacket's Town". Blue Jacket and his band had previously occupied a village along the Scioto River, but the American Revolutionary War had reached the Ohio Country. Blue Jacket and other American Indians who took up arms against the American revolutionaries relocated in order to be closer to their British allies at Detroit.

After the United States gained independence, its forces continued warfare against former Indian allies of the British. Blue Jacket's Town was destroyed in Logan's Raid, conducted by Kentucky militia in 1786 at the outset of the Northwest Indian War. The expedition was led by Benjamin Logan, namesake of Logan County. Blue Jacket and his followers relocated further northwest to the Maumee River.[9]

Beginning in the 1800s, American Revolutionary War veterans and others from Virginia and elsewhere began settling in the area of Blue Jacket's Town. Bellefontaine is on or near the edge of the Virginia Military District, where the cash-poor government granted tracts of land to veterans in payment for their services during the war. The Treaty of Greenville defined lands to be held by European Americans as separate from those to be held by natives but it was poorly administered in the area and whites frequently encroached on native lands.[9]


Bellefontaine was platted by European Americans in 1820 and incorporated by the legislature in 1835.[10][11][12] In 1837, the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad built the first railroad to Bellefontaine. This began its reputation as a railroading town. In the 1890s the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (also called the Big Four Railroad) built a main terminal in the city. This terminal boasted the largest roundhouse between New York and St. Louis.[13]

Though railroading hit hard times and the industry went through radical restructuring in the late 20th century, and the Big Four terminal ceased operations in 1983, Bellefontaine remains a landmark on America's railways. The city is now just a thoroughfare for CSX.

Automotive transportation[edit]

Court Avenue, looking East from South Main St.

In 1891, Bellefontaine became the location of the first concrete street in America. George Bartholomew invented a process for paving using Portland cement, which until then had been used in stone construction. A small section of Main Street, on the west side of the Logan County Courthouse, was the first to be paved using that process. When that proved successful, Court Avenue, which runs along the south side of the courthouse, was paved with concrete. While Main Street is now paved with asphalt, Court Avenue has retained its original concrete pavement for more than 100 years. At its centennial, the street was closed to traffic and a statue of Bartholomew placed at its Main Street end; it became a pedestrian way. Since then one lane has been reopened for eastbound traffic.

In 1979, Honda began manufacturing motorcycles in the nearby city of Marysville, Ohio. Since that time, Honda's operations in the Bellefontaine area have greatly expanded. Bellefontaine is a central location among Honda operations in Marysville, East Liberty, Russells Point, Anna, and Troy, Ohio. Honda is Bellefontaine's largest employer in the early 21st century.

U.S. Route 68 intersects with State Routes 47 and 540 in Bellefontaine. U.S. Route 33, a freeway that has interchanges with US 68 and SR 540, skirts the northern edge of the city.

Campbell Hill[edit]

View westward from the U.S. Route 68 bridge over U.S. Route 33 on the north side of the city, near Campbell Hill.

To European settlers, Campbell Hill was first known as Hogue's Hill, perhaps a misspelling of Solomon Hoge's surname, the person who first deeded the land in 1830. In 1898, the land was sold to Charles D. Campbell, in whose name Campbell Hill is now known. Campbell sold the hill and surrounding land to August Wagner, who was the original brewer of Augustiner and Gambrinus beers. (These brands are now the trademarks of the Gambrinus Company of San Antonio, Texas, though the company has stopped production of these beers.)

In 1950, the family of August Wagner deeded Campbell Hill and the surrounding 57.5 acres to the U.S. government. The government stationed the 664th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron on the hill in 1951. This military unit was responsible for monitoring for possible aerospace attacks from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The 664th AC&WS and similar military units were eventually superseded by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (or NORAD). The base in Bellefontaine was closed in 1969.

The Ohio Hi-Point Vocational-Technical District opened a school atop the hill in 1974. The school is now known as the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.


In 2012 local real estate developer Small Nation purchased and renovated the former J.C. Penney building. Since then, the organization invested over $17 million in renovating over 30 downtown buildings and attracting new businesses to the area.[14][15] The investment into the properties created roughly 200 jobs in the city.[15] In 2018, Bellefontaine was classified as an Opportunity Zone to further attract investors to the area.[16] Neighboring areas have begun using Bellefontaine as a model to attract more investment in their own towns.[17]


According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 10.04 square miles (26.0 km2), all land.[18]


The city of Bellefontaine is at the convergence of the humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) and humid continental (Köppen Dfa) climate zones according to the Köppen climate map. The region is characterized by four distinct seasons. Winters are cool to cold with mild periods, and summers are generally hot and muggy, with significant precipitation year-round. The city is too far south to experience lake effect snow from the Great Lakes region, however it does experience more snow than surrounding areas due to the city's elevation. Traditionally, Bellefontaine's elevation excludes it from tornadoes and floods that affect the majority of the Miami Valley.


Historical population
Census Pop.

[21] As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 13,069 people, 5,319 households, and 3,436 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,491.3 inhabitants per square mile (575.8/km2). There were 5,722 housing units at an average density of 652.9 per square mile (252.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.82% White, 5.13% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.93% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 2.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.12% of the population.

There were 5,319 households, of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out, with 28.1% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,189, and the median income for a family was $43,778. The per capita income for the city was $20,917. About 19.9% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.9% of those ages 65 and older.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 13,370 people, 5,415 households, and 3,420 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,331.7 inhabitants per square mile (514.2/km2). There were 6,115 housing units at an average density of 609.1 per square mile (235.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.1% White, 4.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 5,415 households, of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.8% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.01.

The median age in the city was 34.8 years. 27.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.3% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 12.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

Micropolitan statistical area[edit]

Bellefontaine is the center of the Bellefontaine Micropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. This micropolis consists solely of Logan County, Ohio. The 2000 census[5] found 46,005 people in the micropolis, making it the 260th most populous such area in the United States. Among all U.S. statistical areas (CBSAs), the Bellefontaine micropolis ranks 622nd. In Ohio, the Bellefontaine micropolis is the 37th most populous CBSA, and the 21st most populous micropolitan statistical area.

By comparison, the least populous metropolitan area in the United States, Carson City, Nevada, has 52,457 residents. The least populous metropolitan area in Ohio is Sandusky, with 79,555 residents. The Bellefontaine micropolis is not as populous as these, but does have a greater population than some micropolitan statistical areas traditionally considered to be small regional cities. (Examples: El Dorado, Arkansas; Clovis, New Mexico; and Red Wing, Minnesota.)

Though official definitions of micropolitan statistical areas did not exist until 2003, the area now constituting the Bellefontaine micropolis grew in population by 8.7 percent between 1990 and 2000.

Arts and culture[edit]

Sites of interest[edit]

St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
Sign declaring McKinley Street to be the "World's Shortest Street".
Historic Holland Theatre.
  • McKinley Street — Whether or not this is the shortest street in the world is a point of contention. The sign at the street's south end (at the intersection of Columbus Ave.) once made such a claim, although Ebenezer Place, in Wick, Scotland, has held the official record since November 2006.[22] The City of Bellefontaine's website places the length of McKinley Street at "about 20 feet", and while the city's website does not make the claim of the world's shortest street, it does cite McKinley Street as "the shortest street in America". The street sign's undersign reads "Shortest Street In America" as of May 2, 2020.
  • Court Avenue - A small street in downtown, located adjacent to the Logan County Courthouse. It is known for being the first street in the United States to be paved with concrete.[23]
  • Holland Theater - This theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened in the 1930s as a live theater, but was later converted to a 5-screen megaplex before closing in 1998. In recent years, it has been reopened for live events and performances serving Bellefontaine and the surrounding area. In 2019, after extensive renovations lasting about a year, The Holland Theater was reopened for performances.
  • Campbell Hill, the highest elevated point in Ohio.
  • The first brokerage house of Edward D. Jones houses an office of the brokerage he started.
  • First United Methodist Church, where preacher Norman Vincent Peale got his start.

Logan County Historical Society[edit]

The Logan County Historical Society and museum was first housed in the McBeth School, built in 1919 as the last of the four elementary schools to be built in Bellefontaine at the turn of the century. The building was sold at public auction in 1957 to the Church of God. In 1971 McBeth School was purchased by the Logan County Historical Society for use as the Logan County Historical Museum. The historical society eventually grew out of the 3-story building and moved to its current home closer to Downtown. McBeth School has been adapted for use as an apartment building.[24]

Today the museum includes the Orr mansion, former home of the local Orr family; as well as an extension to the mansion that includes history exhibits from around the county. The Mansion portion of the building has been completely restored by the historical society. Day-to-day operations in the museum and The Logan County Historical Society are supported by a Logan County tax levy and donations received from visitors to the museum. Donations also can be contributed to the society to be used in historical displays. Recent donations in the 21st century include the 1950s era "house call" bag from local doctor George E. Nixon.[25]


Bellefontaine has an elected mayor and city council style of government.


  • Mayor Ben Stahler (R) [26]

City Council[edit]

Bellefontaine City Council Members serve 2 year terms. The city has 4 wards and 3 At-Large seats.[27][28]

Position/Ward Name Party
President Zebulon Wagner R
1 Richard Kurtz R
2 Jordan Reser R
3 Peter DeSomma R
4 Mick Lile R
At-Large Deb Baker R
At-Large Jenna James R
At-Large Kyle Springs R


The Bellefontaine City Schools operate one elementary school, one intermediate school, one middle school, and one high school in the area.[29] These schools have a combined enrollment of 2,840. In addition, the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, located atop Campbell Hill, offers both secondary and post-secondary education. Enrolled at Ohio Hi-Point are 505 students. The neighboring Benjamin Logan Local School District campus also has a Bellefontaine address.

Several colleges and universities operate satellite campuses in the Bellefontaine area. These include:

Bellefontaine has a public library, a branch of Logan County Libraries.[30]


The city is served by both print publishing and radio broadcasting.

The Bellefontaine Examiner is the daily local newspaper. It is the latest in a series of newspapers which have been published in Bellefontaine since 1831. It has a current daily circulation of approximately 9500 copies.[31]

Operating currently are WPKO, an FM radio station, WPKO HD2, a second FM radio station, and its sister station WBLL, an AM radio station. These stations are owned and operated by V-Teck Communications.[32]

Two Christian radio stations WKEN, an FM radio station operating on FM frequency of 88.5 and WSOH, an FM radio station operating on FM frequency of 88.9. These stations are owned and operated by Soaring Eagle Promotions, Inc.[33]



The Bellefontaine Regional Airport is located about 5 miles from the downtown business district. The airport replaced the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport in 2002 and is one of 2 new airports opened to the public in Ohio in the past 30 years.[34]

U.S. 68 passes north-south through Bellefontaine. U.S. 33 passes through the north side of Bellefontaine. Ohio State Route 47 passes through the city.

Bellefontaine had been part of the New York Central Railroad's St. Louis - Indianapolis - Cleveland corridor of passenger trains.[35] Up to 1966, the New York Central ran the Southwestern Limited (St. Louis - New York City via Cleveland) through Bellefontaine. The city was also a crossing point for the New York Central's Detroit - Cincinnati trains. The last of these (Ohio Special southbound, Michigan Special northbound) ended in 1958 or 1959.[36] The final train running through Bellefontaine, the Penn Central's Indianapolis - Cleveland remnant of the Southwestern Limited, ended in 1971, upon Amtrak taking up private companies' long distance passenger operations.

Notable people[edit]

Historical marker in downtown Bellefontaine marking the site of Blue Jacket's Town

In popular culture[edit]

  • Bellefontaine is the setting of the well-known W.C. Fields comic movie from the 1930s, The Old-Fashioned Way. In the movie, the 'Great McGonigle', played by Fields, leads his acting troop on a railroad tour of the U.S. hinterland. His troop has been in the railroad hub Bellefontaine before.


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  4. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "A Pronunciation Guide to places in Ohio -- E.W.Scripps School of". Archived from the original on 2017-07-25. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^ Ohio History Central
  9. ^ a b Ohio History, Vol. 12, pg 169 Archived 2009-04-29 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ History of Bellefontaine Archived 2004-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, City of Bellefontaine. Accessed 2009-10-31.
  11. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bellefontaine, Ohio
  12. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bellefontaine" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ Trostel, Scott D. (2005). The Columbus Avenue Miracle: Bellefontaine, Ohio's WW II Serviceman's Free Canteen. Cam-Tech Publishing. ISBN 0-925436-50-X.
  14. ^ "Downtown Bellefontaine nominated for HGTV series". Peak of Ohio. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  15. ^ a b STAFF, BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER. "Thinking small yields big downtown expansion". Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  16. ^ "Opportunity Zone | Logan County Chamber of Commerce". Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  17. ^ Sanctis, Matt. "Urbana looks to Bellefontaine as model of redevelopment". springfield-news-sun. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  18. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Ohio". United States Census. Archived from the original on 2016-07-02. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  19. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Ohio" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. 1960. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Ohio: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  21. ^[dead link]
  22. ^ "Street measures up to new record". BBC News. 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  23. ^ Cracked street's hereafter splits Bellefontaine Archived 2011-05-23 at the Wayback Machine, The Columbus Dispatch, 2008-06-01. Accessed 2008-10-10.
  24. ^ "Logan County Historical Society," Published History of Logan County, 1982
  25. ^ 2009-1-5.
  26. ^ "Mayor's Office". City of Bellefontaine. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  27. ^ "November 3rd Election Results (Audio included) | Peak of Ohio". Peak of Ohio News. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  28. ^ Logan County Board of Elections (PDF) Retrieved 10 November 2015. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Bellefontaine City Schools". Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2007.
  30. ^ "Branches". Logan County Libraries. 2010-04-09. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  31. ^ "Echo Media V3 Print Media Experts".
  32. ^ "FM Query Results -- Audio Division (FCC) USA".
  33. ^ "FM Query Results -- Audio Division (FCC) USA". Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  34. ^ "AOPA's Boyer takes part in Ohio airport grand opening" (Press release). Aircraft owners and Pilots Association (USA). August 16, 2002. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  35. ^ New York Central timetable, Tables 3, 4, 18, 19
  36. ^ New York Central timetable, October 1958, Table 24

External links[edit]