County engineer making historical maps more available


By Rick Palsgrove

Southeast Editor

A map showing a portion of Madison Township from 1872.
A map showing a portion of Madison Township from 1872.

Maps, both old and new, help tell the stories of people and places.

Franklin County Engineer Dean Ringle wants to make the county’s collection of historical maps and documents more accessible to the public by making digital copies of them and placing the documents on the county engineer’s website for viewing.

“We’re in the process of redesigning our website and we hope to start putting the information online once the redesign is completed,” said Amy Lowe, director of communications for the Franklin County Engineer. “This is going to take some time. There’s a lot of material.”

“The idea is to make available the best quality of information we can to the public,” said Franklin County Engineer Dean Ringle.

Lowe said some items are already digitally scanned and can be emailed. Anyone interested can email to see if a map they are seeking is available electronically.

Ringle said the public may also come to the engineer’s office and make copies of maps and documents on CDs.

The public is welcome to visit the county engineer’s office at 970 Dublin Road, Columbus, to look at the actual maps on file. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We have a lot of resources available for people to see,” said Lowe.

Added Ringle, “Many people don’t know about all the historical information we have on file. It’s good information for looking at the history of Franklin County.”

According to the engineer’s website at, the county has historical maps of Franklin County dating back to 1842. This includes township maps, road record books, town maps, subdivision plats, private surveys and more.

The 19th century and early 20th century maps are hand drawn with detailed information. The old maps show the names of property owners directly on their plat of land, include the acreage of farms, and sometimes provide a list of names and occupations for area residents. Inked in black on the maps are outlines of structures on properties showing houses, barns and outbuildings. Roads are shown on the old maps as well as railroads and the Ohio and Erie Canal.

“If your family has been in the county a long time,” said Ringle. “These documents can help you trace your family’s history.”

The 19th century maps reveal there were large expanses of unincorporated areas between towns. Most of the suburbs were small farm towns. Columbus, whose modern boundaries border the smaller cities and villages in the county, was a far away place in earlier days.

Historical maps chart the urban growth in the county. Comparing maps from the 19th century, the 20th century and the 21st century reveals that once small towns like Reynoldsburg, Gahanna, Dublin and Hilliard exploded with population and business growth into big cities. Old farm towns like Canal Winchester, Grove City and Groveport became growing commercial centers.

“Many people think only of local historical societies when doing their research,” said Ringle. “They don’t necessarily think of the government resources available, such as here at the engineer’s office. These maps and documents are a way of preserving and learning about some of our history.”

For information on the historical maps, visit or call (614) 525-3045.


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