Back in October 2012, I paid a visit to Toronto, Ohio, population 5,091. Soon after my trip to the Ohio River Valley, I wrote about my visit for Spacing Toronto. A decade later, in October 2022, I returned to Toronto while on a trip to nearby Pittsburgh.
The small Ohio community was originally named Sloan’s Station, but when it was incorporated as a city, they chose “Toronto” because local businessman W.F. Dunspaugh, a Toronto (Ontario) native, thought his hometown was “a place worth emulating.” Toronto, Ohio is the only other city named Toronto, but other Torontos exist, including the town of Toronto, South Dakota (population 212) and the town of Toronto, New South Wales, Australia (population 5,161).
In 2012, Downtown Toronto had only a handful of stores, including a Dollar General, a bar, pizzeria, a Hallmark gift shop, and a hair salon. Apart from the bar (which I went into ten years ago), those businesses are still there today, but there was also a new barbecue restaurant, and a coffee shop. Up the street, a disused auto shop was transformed into a pretty good taco joint. Though downtown wasn’t especially busy, the parking spots along 4th Street were mostly full.
Sadly the abandoned, yet still handsome National Bank of Toronto building was torn down a few years ago. Otherwise, Toronto continues to hold its own, with a well-kept little downtown and more places to sit and eat than before.
Just a few miles to the south is the town of Mingo Junction, Ohio, one of many industrial communities along the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Mingo Junction is best known as a filming location for movies including the acclaimed 1977 film “The Deer Hunter.” The town now celebrates its cinematic history with large vinyl signs displayed on the north end of Mingo Junction’s main street.
While Toronto’s economy is based on a still-busy titanium mill, Mingo Junction is a old steel town, hit hard by the deindustrialization of northeast Ohio in the 1970s and 1980s. The condition of its Main Street