In 1823, Ohio Episcopal Bishop Philander Chase purchased 8,000 acres of what he called the "beauty spot" of Knox County. Here, he founded Kenyon College, the first men's college west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the second oldest college in Ohio. It was not until 21 years after the start of the college, and long after the departure of Chase, who had opposed development, that the quiet village of Gambier was laid out.
With the construction of a railroad line between Cleveland and Columbus around 1870, Gambier entered the glorious era of train travel. Since Kenyon owned most of the land through which the new railroad would pass, the College gave a right-of-way through Gambier with the stipulation that all passenger trains stop at the stone depot which once stood west of this location. A trip to Columbus took about 1 ½ hours and cost $1.50, while a northbound trip to Cleveland took just under 4 hours.
The village of Gambier has experienced little change over the years. It has a volunteer fire department that serves the township and a mayor-council form of government and still enjoys a close connection with the College, which is now rated as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation. Among Kenyon's alumni is President Rutherford B. Hayes.