Alliance owes its existence and early prosperity to the railroads. It was because of the anticipated rail linkage with important cities to the east and west that such people as Elisha Teeters, Matthias Hester, Simeion Jennings, and Isaac and Anna Webb purchased land near the newly acquired railroad right of way and began to develop it. The first railroad to reach Alliance was the Cleveland and Wellsville. Amidst much celebration the first locomotive steamed into the village of Freedom on July 4, 1851. Soon the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad was also running to the village.
On May 12, 1852 Colonel Daniel Sourbeck arrived from Pennsylvania to take charge of the hotel that had been built on the north side of the intersection of the two tracks. One of the worst disasters in the city's history occurred at the crossing in front of the hotel on December 6, 1856. In spite of the fact that the city council had ruled that locomotives could go no faster than six miles per hour through the area, a speeding locomotive collided at the intersection of the tracks with another train. One of the cars smashed into the hotel, and a number of people waiting for the trains to pass were killed. The grave of one of the victims, John McIntyre, can still be seen in the old United Brethren Church cemetery on River Street.
The newly elected President, Abraham Lincoln, dined at the hotel on his way to his inauguration in 1861. A monument was erected near the spot where he gave a brief speech.
The first building burned in 1863, and a brick building was constructed to replace it. The new structure was officially known as the Sourbeck House and served as a combination hotel, depot, and restaurant. Travelers came from hundreds of miles to enjoy its famous food and hospitality. The three Union Army Generals; Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan are said to have enjoyed one of Mr. Sourbeck's meals in 1867.
Today there is nothing left of the old buildings, but Alliance's industry is still dependent upon the railroads for the crucial transportation of raw materials and finished products.