Bellefontaine is a city in and the county seat of Logan County, Ohio, United States. The population was estimated at 13,322 in 2011. It is the center of the Bellefontaine Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Logan County, as defined by the United States Census Bureau in 2003. The highest point in Ohio, Campbell Hill, is within the city limits of Bellefontaine.
The name Bellefontaine means "beautiful spring" in French, and is purported to refer to several springs in the area.
Blue Jacket's Town
Around 1777, the Shawnee war leader 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 with the coming of the American Revolutionary War to 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. 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.
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, and the Treaty of Greenville delineating lands to be held by Americans from those to be held by natives was poorly administered in the area.
Bellefontaine was platted in 1820 and incorporated in 1835. In 1837, the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad built the first railroad in Bellefontaine. This began Bellefontaine's reputation as a railroading town. This reputation was cemented in the 1890s, when the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (also called the Big Four Railroad) built a main terminal in the city. This terminal also boasted the largest roundhouse between New York and St. Louis.
Though railroading hit hard times 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 at the junction of CSX lines going to Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Dayton.
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 then paved. While Main Street is now paved with asphalt, Court Avenue has retained its original concrete pavement for over 100 years. At its centennial, the street was closed and a statue of Bartholomew placed at its Main Street end, although since then one lane has been reopened for eastbound traffic.
In 1979, Honda began manufacturing motorcycles in the Columbus suburb of Marysville, Ohio. Since that time, Honda's operations in the Bellefontaine area have greatly expanded, and Bellefontaine is now centrally located to Honda operations in Marysville, East Liberty, Russells Point, Anna, and Troy, Ohio. It follows, then, that Honda is presently Bellefontaine's largest employer.
Today, Bellefontaine is centered at the intersection of U.S. Route 68 with State Routes 47 and 540. U.S. Route 33, a freeway that has interchanges with US 68 and SR 540, skirts the northern edge of the city.
To European settlers, Campbell Hill was first known as Hogue's Hill, perhaps a misspelling of the name of the person who first deeded the land in 1830, Solomon Rogue. 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 then 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), and 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.