City of Toledo Employees Crack the Case of Missing Historical Marker #26-48 Canal Terminus / Manhattan

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

It all started with an email from Laura Russel, the Ohio Historical Markers Program Manager at the Ohio History Connection, to the Communications Department regarding a missing Historical Marker. The query landed in Bridget Ridley’s inbox.

Russel’s email read as follows:
📧 “I am the Ohio Historical Markers Program Manager at the Ohio History Connection. I am trying to find out what happened to marker #26-48 Canal Terminus / Manhattan, originally installed at 3900 N Summit Street in Toledo. A photograph on our website shows it near a water reclamation plant. This has been reported missing since at least 2019. If it is in storage somewhere in the plant, please let me know. If it has been destroyed, I'd also like to know that so I can retire it from the program. Any help in this matter is greatly appreciated.”

And with that, the detective work began.

Shortly after Ridley read Russel's email, a flurry of messages were exchanged among City employees. Ridley contacted Erin Simmons, who then reached out to Christine Minor and Andrew McClure. Bruce Cousino, cc’d in Ridley’s email, chimed in with a response:
📧 “Years ago, the posts were rotting away. The signs were taken to the sign shop on Westwood Ave. to see if they could obtain new posts. I visited the sign shop some 6-9 months later, and no one could find the signs.”

Cousino’s response prompted Christine Minor to reach out to eight other employees:
📧 “Has anyone seen marker 26-48?”

Minor’s email included a photograph of the Historical Marker.

Joe Whitten, who was one of those 8 employees tagged in the email happily reported back:
📧 “We have the “Manhattan” sign here in the shop! I haven’t seen the “Canal Terminus” sign, maybe at facilities? I hope that helps!”

The mystery was solved…almost. The “Manhattan” sign was in the shop- now only to find the “Canal Terminus” sign.

Christine Minor then reached out to a few more employees, including Rick Akeman, who is the Facilities and Fleet Commissioner, to see if anyone could ask around at Facilities or anywhere else he could think of to find the 'Canal Terminus' sign.

After Akeman couldn't find anything, he asked Gabe Jones, the structural supervisor, for help. This brought the conversation back to where it started—with Bridget Ridley and Laura Russel.

Afterward, Ridley sent important information to the detective squad:
📧 “I spoke to Laura Russell about the marker today. She believes the marker has information on both sides. I just emailed Joe Whitten to see if someone can take another look at the marker to confirm that is one marker we are looking for and not two separate ones. I asked her about the post and she sent the attached information on how to make the repairs. Please see the attached. Does anyone know who would make the purchase? I asked Laura who installed the post and she said the City.”

Gabe Jones stepped in and brought the mystery to a close:
📧 “We’ll take it from here, Bridget, i.e. the Manhattan sign. We’ll purchase a new pole/post and have it mounted at the Manhattan/N Summit intersection in the grass boulevard, after we get the materials and sign reattached. We’ll use the spec sheet you just emailed over for reference. Thank you. 😊”

📣 Team Insights

🗣️ Bridget Ridley:
“I felt a sense of accomplishment with the help of my fellow employees because this is something that could have fallen on deaf ears or could have just been pushed off to the side as if it wasn't important. But due to the fact that I'm responsible for all of the mission requests that come into communications, being able to get it done and resolved in a timely fashion was a relief to me. I'm happy that I have other employees and coworkers who feel the same way about their work and take pride in it. I was just happy that everybody was able to help me as I was sending multiple emails out to get it taken care of.”

🗣️Christine Minor:
"The picture we had been provided from Bridget showed construction trailers in the background, so I knew it had to have been there in 2006. From there, a plan was hatched by the sign shop, or that may have been where Gabe came in and took over, to get it repaired and then re-installed. It feels great having the marker back in its rightful place. I love seeing it when I drive into work each day. In fact, I was waiting for better weather to get a selfie in front of it with my grandson. He loves history.”

🗣️ Gabe Jones:
"I was just trying to take a bunch of information and simplify it in order to resolve the problem. The original location was across the street at Water Reclamation, which lacks foot traffic and sidewalks, making it less ideal. Considering the importance of visibility, safety, and aesthetics, I decided to relocate the sign to the Detwiler Park side of the street where it is surrounded by greenery, shrubs, and trees, and it is near a footpath. It now stands in a perfect spot, allowing walkers and bikers to appreciate its historical significance. The decision made sense in every way, with Manhattan facing the Manhattan thoroughfare.

When I received the assignment from Rick, I knew it was important. He trusted me to handle it, and I was confident we could get the job done right. The hardest part was getting the post, but I knew our Facilities team, including carpenters Darrell Cunningham and Richard Harris, could handle it. I was grateful for Bill Brown in transportation who stepped in and sent a crew and truck with an auger to drill the hole in frozen ground for the sign-post footer. There was just great collaboration between COT divisions to make this all happen. It was pretty impressive."

In the end, the collaborative efforts between the City of Toledo employees helped find Missing Historical Marker #26-48 Canal Terminus / Manhattan. Together, they cracked the case and restored a piece of our community's heritage to its proper place.