Part 3 of a 3-part series 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The end of the Toledo War gave all parties something they both wanted.

  • The outcome of the Toledo War had lasting impacts, both geographically and economically
  • If the federal government had sided with Michigan, Sandusky would be a larger city
  • Being on the Lost Peninsula has created some unique issues     

For Ohio, it was keeping the northern border, where our constitution said it was.

For Michigan it was statehood.

But how would things have been different had the federal government sided with Michigan?

For starters, moving the line to the southern tip of Lake Michigan as originally described, stretches the line nearly to the city of Sandusky.

“I think that Sandusky would have become the Northwest Port of the city of Ohio. So today, if the Toledo War had gone the other way, if we were in Michigan here today, Sandusky would be a larger city,” said Dr. Bruce Way, senior lecturer, University of Toledo Department of History.

Instead, one part of Michigan is isolated from the rest of the state. It’s known as the “Lost Peninsula,” sandwiched between the Ottawa river and Maumee Bay.

This part of Michigan can only be accessed by boat or traveling through Ohio. The border is marked with a marble headstone, running through the property of Tony’s Quarterdeck, a local eatery and watering hole.

Being on the Lost Peninsula has created some unique issues for this place.

“We have all Michigan licenses, Michigan utilities, all except we have our water’s Ohio and we have one Ohio electric bill for one light,” said Andrea Grodi, owner, Tony’s Quarterdeck.

They also pay taxes for both states, because a portion of the parking lot is in Ohio.

And being in Michigan means they purchase their liquor from a Michigan distributor.

“So, they have to come down from Michigan, cross into Ohio, and then come back up to the peninsula to Michigan. And you’re not allowed to do that,” said Grodi. “We had, for a while, like two months, we couldn’t get any liquor deliveries because the companies, the liquor distributors, won’t back their drivers if they get a ticket or something. It’s kind of at their own risk. And, what driver is gonna do that?”

The original line would make business easier at Tony’s Quarterdeck, but would have spelled changes elsewhere.

If Michigan had its way, the line would have run through where the University of Toledo Medical Center sits today, about 7-1/2 miles away.

The line also would have split the Toledo Zoo almost in half.

Given that it would be years before both Ohio State and the University of Michigan were established, and even longer before they began playing football, is it fair to say that the Toledo War was the birth of the rivalry?

“I think it’s part of a rivalry, certainly, that has been there for a long time between Ohio and Michigan,” said Way. “And if you want to look for anything to add to the animosity or add to the air of contentiousness, it doesn’t hurt to have actually had a Toledo War.”

You could also make a case that the war was a very early version of tailgating.

“You have largely young people, often who had access to alcohol and large quantities, and who have been animated and stirred up by very heated rhetoric,” said Michael Herschok, Ph.D., history department chair, University of Michigan Dearborn.

And there are still battles for territory going on in modern times very reminiscent to the Toledo War.

“Just a couple of years ago, the controversial spot on fourth down call which Michiganders believed, much like the line that Ohio drew relative to the Toledo Strip, advantaged Ohio over Michigan,” said Herschok.

Determining who was right and who was wrong is a tricky topic still up for debate.

But Ohio’s constitution declared a line different from the Northwest Ordinance.

Determining a winner is even trickier.

Ohio did develop Toledo, but the completion of railroads quickly rendered the canal system obsolete, and Toledo never became the thriving port that was anticipated.

Michigan was initially not impressed with gaining the Upper Peninsula, but in the long run, that wilderness has proved its value in copper, iron, timber and tourism.

What began as a squabble over land really doesn’t matter anymore.

But the battle for land continues on the field for sixty minutes every November.

And that is how a rivalry is born.