In the late 19th century and early 20th century several railways were constructed through the city, and located exactly halfway between Detroit and Buffalo, St. Thomas became an important railway junction. By 1914 there were 8 different railways operating in St. Thomas with over 100 trains a day passing through the city, earning it the title of the 'Railway Capital of Canada', which is celebrated today in the revitalisation of the original train station and Elgin County Railway Museum.
The trains contributed to a sadder part of our local history, when Jumbo, P.T. Barnum's famous elephant died here on September 15, 1885, when he was struck by a locomotive. Barnum was a trustee of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and Jumbo's remains were sent there. Though only his tail and some ashes remain after a fire in 1975, Jumbo's memory lives on in a life-sized commemorative statue, erected in St. Thomas in 1985, the centennial of Jumbo's demise.