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Curious Cbus: Why Is The Airport Called Port Columbus?

Don O'Brien via Flickr
Port Columbus Airport in 1941.

This story is part of the Curious Cbus project. You ask the questions, you vote on one of the questions, and we answer. To ask your question, visit wosu.org/curious.

The Port Columbus Airport has witnessed the evolution of aviation throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, and soon it could see another change honoring Ohio’s historical connection to air travel.

A proposal to rename the Columbus airport the “John Glenn International Airport” was passed by the Ohio General Assembly this week. Before the change was announced, many had wondered why the Columbus airport is called "Port Columbus," when the city isn’t on a waterfront.

Columbus may not lay claim to a major body of water, but other seaport airports did inspire Don Casto Sr. to give the Columbus airport a name he thought would distinguish it from others.

“He wanted something dramatic, and he came up with the name of Port Columbus because he had been to all these other places,” said Doral Chenoweth, a former Columbus Dispatch food writer who worked with the Wolfe family, who were close friends with Don Casto.

Casto was a Franklin County businessman who had an interest in aviation. He worked with Dispatch publisher Edgar Wolfe to get a bond issue passed that would purchase land for what is now Port Columbus. He explained this process in the above video from the WOSU series Columbus Neighborhoods.

To convince the public to pass the bond, Casto decided to fly across the Atlantic on the Graf Zeppelin, writing back to Wolfe, who then published Casto’s writings. Columbus residents agreed to support the bond upon his return.

After it opened, Port Columbus Airport became a stop on the Transcontinental Air and Rail Service, according to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.

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