From The Vaults

Fairgrounds To Serve As Future Transport Hub?

The horse: Is this the secret weapon to beat global warming? – Independent Online Edition > Climate Change

They may previously have appreciated it more for its culinary value, but the French are discovering a new green form of transport: the humble horse. More than 70 French towns have already gone back to the future by introducing horse-drawn carriages to replace petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles for local tasks such as collecting rubbish, street-cleaning and taking children to school. And at least 30 more are set to join the revolution next year.

The French are beating the US again. It was foresighted when they left Vietnam, built public transport, supported the US during the revolution and embraced nuclear power. Why not look at the French model again? Ohio has been making it difficult for the manufacturing and agriculture to survive and when energy costs are rising all locally based transportation options should be considered. I have blogged about the horse business on numerous occasions and recently the DDN had an article and a letter to the editor concerning a decline in the horse business in Ohio.

While the world is coming to grips with declining energy, Dayton and Montgomery County continue embrace ideas that will destroy local farm land and further exacerbate the reliance on the automobile. Why not utilize the Fairgrounds as a transportation and area for local agricultural enhancement?

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10 comments to Fairgrounds To Serve As Future Transport Hub?

  • T. Ruddick

    Interesting idea.

    Historically, some farmers went back to horses during the oil crises of the 1970s. The horse is more economical in the long run. Unfortunately, too many farmers get hooked on technology and wind up relying on mechanical irrigation, gasoline-powered cultivators and harvesters, and agrichemicals. The few family farmers who avoided those things have generally done well.

    But going further back in history, the automobile was originally hailed as the “green” solution to that other, high-polluting form of transportation–the horse. Big-city streets used to be smeared with unimaginable muck–and let’s face it, having 1 horse for every 2 residents of our vicinity would yield maybe 1 million horses. That would turn the Dayton Metro into the biggest megafarm in Ohio, and I doubt our five rivers could cope with the run-off.

  • We would need a lot of livery stables for an urban horse population.

    I wonder how widespread urban horse ownership was in 19th century Dayton? I suspect having a horse was less widespread than owning a car.

  • How do you envision the fairgrounds being used for local agricultural enhancement?

  • Greg Hunter

    Thanks for the responses and the thoughts. Jeffery and T. Ruddick have addressed the same concern ie horse population as a function of people. Mr. Ruddick couched it in runoff and Jeffery with Livery. I am of the contention that on the backside of Hubbert’s Peak, man will have to be more efficient or more ruthless than on the upside. As the wars in the World have shown, man is becoming more unstable so he will probably be more ruthless as oil along with food production declines. In order to alleviate these issues, the world will have to come to some agreement on how to invest our declining assets. If we leave this to market forces I believe Dayton will be on the short end of the stick ala New Orleans with Katrina. If we want to survive and prosper going forward the Dayton community will have to contract to a more densely populated area and if we want to maintain some sort of society we might have to use different modes of locomotion where the niche is required.

    Certainly horse crap is a problem, but no different the human crap, which we seem to have solved. However, I would contend that man’s laziness will ultimately require him to quit wasting water to get ride of crap, but I will leave that for some other day. Rick I think that farmers coming to Dayton would be more likely to come to the Fairgrounds to trade goods and pick up their fertilizer (horse crap) than any other location as it has all the infrastructure in place.

    I think life will be harder during the decline of the carbon age, but it does not mean we cannot complete the task successfully, given the correct mindset. Unfortunately, the decline of credit along with the entire political system driving incorrect public decisions has lead the US to invest in a sprawling system that will be considered a colossal dead end. Happy Motoring, but I would rather have a horse, and so should you.

  • ^
    I’d rather take a trolly.


    Speaking of human crap, Dayton didn’t have a sewer system unitl by then end of the 1880s.

    Everyone had privys. One can see them on the Sanborn maps.

    These privys had to be emptied every so often. So there was a trade here for collecting “night soil”. The collectors would empty out the privy vaults , load the contents into wagons and haul it out to market farmers in the nearby countryside, were it was used for fertilzer.

    Presumably the nearby farmers were growing food for the local trade…they would grow produce and then wagon it into town to sell at market or to greengrocers.

    So there was sort of this organic matter cycle operating, prior to the sewer system.

  • Greg Hunter

    Jeffery – Yes it is back to the future as the decline in fossil fuels also leads to a decline in available phosphorus.

    There are no substitutes for phosphorus in agriculture.

    Fortunately, phosphorus – unlike oil – can be recycled. Responses to a phosphorus peak include re-creating a cycle of nutrients, for example, returning animal (including human) manure to cultivated soil as Asian people have done in the not-so-distant past [4].

    There will be room for technology in the future, but some processes that we abandoned in the past will be necessary in the future and I do not want to throw this infrastructure away, unlike the techno-cornucopians that run this town. I realize I am wasting my time as the US and Dayton are insistent on destroying the very things that we will need in the future.

  • Very interesting! A systems approach. This reminds me of that old Whole Earth Catalogue/Co-Evolution Quarterly from the 1970s. Stewart Brand and his associates were pushing this way of looking at things.

    Being a history buff I sort of look for evidence of this.

    One see’s it more in Europe than in the US. Also a long view in terms of resource management.

    One example is the Siegen industrial region in Germany. This was very similar to the Hanging Rock iron region here in Ohio, even in topography. Both places had a charcoal fired blast furnance industry, early ironmaking.

    In the Siegerland forests were denuded, but the local counts instituted a policy of coppicing and also retricted the amount of wood that could be used in construction.

    So the Siegerland developed a very distincitive minimalist style of half timbered architecture so as to conserve wood. Managed forests and coppicing increased wood yield (though the countryside was still pretty deforested).

    The contrast in frontier Ohio was that the Hanging Rock furnace companies purchased vast tracts of land and just clearcut them to provide charcoal. Pretty much everything from Jackson and Wellston down to the Ohio River was clearcut to support the industry. There was no thought to sustainability for the industry, but then coal became available as a substitue for biomass.

    One sees a lot of these early attempts at resource managment. Again in Germany the older citys are surrounded by forests. One thinks its a nice concept to have these forest preserves as parkland, but the purpose, prior to coal, was to provide firewood for the city. The forests were managed as a renewable fuel source.

    Salines were run the same way. Instead of using large fires to boil off the brine to leave the salt, they used these big evaporators to concentrate the salt in the brine, so to minimize the use of firewood and make a quicker boil-off.

    So, there are examples in the historical record, if one is into industrial or economic history.

  • T. Ruddick

    I would insist that there is a difference in horse crap and human crap, in that horses have never shown a propensity for potty-training.

    As for water used for sanitation–Dayton is on top of one of the more robust aquifers in the world. A pity we haven’t managed to market our ready reserves of water as an industrial resource.

    If you really want to promote use of a non-polluting personal transportation technology, cycling comes to mind. But we’ll have to get past some of our prejudices, such as the notion that utterly spotless business suits are a sign of good reputation (would the courts admit representation by an attorney who was dressed in cycling shorts and was slightly sweaty?).


    This is a brief history of the use of ‘biosolids’ for fertilizer. They even site a user in Alliance Ohio in 1907!

    There are also several online stories about problems with disease and infections experienced by people living near fields treated with human biosolids so we may have to wait a little longer for new technology to counter that problem.

  • Greg Hunter

    we might have to use different modes of locomotion where the niche is required.

    Bikes would certainly be part of the solution as well as many of the proposals for light rail. It is too bad that there are no bicycles that are made in American anymore.

    Bruce I suspect but cannot prove that industrial exhaust contributes to cancer; however, that is the consequence of an industrial society, so the concerns over biosolids do not out weigh consequences of not using them.

    We are in a Malthusian dilemma and it will require planning (Alert – code word for socialism AAAAHHH) to alleviate the issue confronting the World in the next 20 years.

    I would gladly trade my car now for light rail, horse, bicycle, exoctic foods and a shot at flying on a plane for me and for future generations.

    Jeffery – I love your analysis!

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