Vagabond Is Going ‘Hollywood’

Wheeling chef Matt Welsch is slated to make his national debut this week.

Welsch, owner of the Vagabond Kitchen restaurant in downtown Wheeling, participated recently in “Guy’s Grocery Games,” a television series that features food-related competitions. The episode is scheduled to air on the Food Network at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

To celebrate the occasion, Welsch is holding a viewing party at the Vagabond Kitchen, beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

When the Vagabond Chef finally was able to share the secret, he related, “A couple months ago, Food Network flew me out to Hollywood to be a participant on ‘Guy’s Grocery Games.’ It was an amazing experience and a chance for me to talk about everything that is happening in Wheeling with a national audience.” During the process, Welsch got to meet the show’s host, Guy Fieri, who is a celebrity chef and Food Network personality.

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People tend to take transportation for granted — until they don’t have any.

Lunch With Books speaker Dale Rothert shared information about various forms of transportation, past and present, ancient and modern, with an audience at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling recently. Rothert, a retired postmaster, served as a designated pilot examiner and taught aviation ground school at several local colleges and schools. He grew up in Cincinnati, but came to the Wheeling area in 1967.

For the library program, Rothert offered a fascinating summary of the many railroad companies that once traversed the Wheeling area.

On a historical note, he said Abraham Lincoln rode area rails en route to his inauguration as president. Traveling by train from his home in Springfield, Ill., Lincoln passed through Columbus, Mingo Junction, Steubenville and Pittsburgh on his way to Washington, D.C.

In Harrison County, Lincoln stopped for breakfast at a boarding house at Cadiz Junction, Rothert said. Special trains ran from Cadiz for people to see a glimpse of the president-elect. That rail line is still in use.

Lincoln wasn’t the only famous figure to have a meal in Harrison County. Rothert said Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Johnson, Gen. George Custer and Admiral David Farragut all had lunch, at one time or another, at Cadiz Junction.

The speaker noted that the present-day Ohio County Public Library is located on the site of the Hempfield Railroad’s rail yards. The Hempfield viaduct and tunnel, off 17th Street, are now part of the city’s walking trail system.

Markers in the sidewalk near Heritage Port offer reminders of the many rail companies that served the area, including the Cleveland and Pittsburg Railroad, which was chartered in 1836, before the latter city had an “h” added to the end of its name; the Central Ohio Railroad, chartered in Zanesville in 1848, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which arrived in Wheeling 165 years ago, on Jan. 13, 1853. Rothert said the “Ohio” in the B&O’s name referred to the river, not the state.

Other lines serving the region included the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati-St. Louis Railroad, incorporated in 1868; the Pennsylvania Railroad, which arrived in Wheeling in 1878; the Pittsburgh, Wheeling and Kentucky Railroad, which was incorporated in 1868 and ran from Weirton to Benwood; the Ohio River Railroad, incorporated in St. Marys in 1881; the Wheeling Bridge and Terminal Railway, organized in 1882 to run from Benwood to Warwood; the Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Railroad, incorporated in 1883, and the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, organized in 1886.

The Wheeling and Elm Grove Railroad, organized in 1873, was actually a street car line, he said. It had six cars and 11 teams of horses and ran from downtown to the Wheeling Park area.

In Eastern Ohio, one of the rail companies was the BC&Z, which stood for Bellaire, Cambridge and Zanesville. Rothert said its nickname was “Bent, Crooked and Zigzag,” a reference to its curving route.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net.

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