This abandoned railway was built in 1871 as a narrow-gauge railroad to connect the docks at Huron to Norwalk, Ohio. This was actually the Wheeling & Lake Erie's (W&LE) first line. It was converted to standard gauge in 1880, and its southern terminus at Norwalk was later connected to the newly-built (and still active) mainline that runs between Toledo and the Ohio River.
In 1949, the W&LE became part of the Nickel Plate Road (NKP); this line was connected to the NKP mainline (now operated by Norfolk Southern) in 1952. In 1964, the NKP became part of the Norfolk & Western railway, to become Norfolk Southern in the early 1980s. The last Norfolk Southern train to run on this track was in the early 1980s.
In 1990, Norfolk Southern sold off portions of their lines to the reborn W&LE, including this line. However, this line from the ex-NKP connection south was never used by the "new" W&LE, and it was subsequently abandoned in 1992.
Today, a small portion of this line is in use to connect the Huron docks with the ex-NKP mainline. Beyond that, it has been abandoned. A rail-trail, The Huron River Greenway, has been constructed on a few miles of right-of way on the northern portion of this line. Unfortunately, due to a property dispute between neighboring residents and the Erie County Metroparks, this trail has been closed indefinitely as of Fall, 2007.
Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information.
The Huron River Greenway has been re-opened. Only about a 700' section in the middle, near the Ohio Turnpike overpass remains closed. It can be entered at the DuPont Marsh Nature Preserve entrance, near a large county water tower on River Road (Co. Rd #126), south of Huron; from the Mason Road (Co. Rd. #13) and from Main Street (at the bottom of the hill) in the Village of Milan.
The trail is closed permanently south of Franklin Flats as of Feb, 2012. The landowners have their land back. The trail runs about 1 mile from the northern end at DuPont Marsh off of River Road to Franklin Flats.
Too bad the trail wasn't developed.