The Cincinnati and Eastern Railway (C&E) was a railroad from Idlewild in Norwood, near Cincinnati, Ohio, to Portsmouth. The Cincinnati and Eastern Railway (C&E) was a railroad from Idlewild in Norwood, near Cincinnati, to Portsmouth, Ohio. At its western terminus, it connected with the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern (CL&N) and the Pennsylvania Railroad Richmond Division (PRR), and to a Scioto Valley Railway at its eastern terminus.

The C&E was chartered as the Cincinnati, Batavia & Williamsburg on January 11, 1876. but the name was changed and the projected route was extended to Portsmouth in May.(4a)5 It was projected that the line would carry coal from the Jackson County fields.(4a) Construction began almost immediately after the railroad was renamed. On October 18, 1876, the line was opened from Batavia Junction to Batavia, a distance of 15 miles.5 By August 4, 1877, the railroad had reached Winchester, a distance of 48 miles.

On March 1, 1878, the C&E opened to the first portion of a branch to New Richmond from Richmond Junction to Tobasco, a distance of five miles.5 In June, a 5.5-mile western extension to the Miami Valley Railroad, later the CL&N Idlewild, was completed.(4b) It was constructed to the Miami Valley Railroad, who had promised a narrow-gauge connection via the Deer Creek valley.5 When the Deer Creek tunnel project ran into financial difficulties, the C&E found that its connection to Cincinnati was completely useless for four years. The railroad soon went into receivership on January 27, 1879 due to failures to collect stock subscriptions.

During receivership, little work was completed along the C&E. The branch line had been extended to Blairville, a distance of 11 miles, in 1879, and was completed to New Richmond on March 1, 1880, a distance of 14 miles. The branch had a physical connection with the Cincinnati, Georgetown and Portsmouth (CG&P) at Tobasco Junction.5

At a meeting on November 21, 1880 the shareholders voted to increase the capital stock from $500,000 to $2 million, and to authorize a bond issue to connect the railroad to Portsmouth and beyond to Gallipolis.5 The receivership was listed on March 1, 1881.5 In February 1882, the C&E signed a contract with the Cincinnati Northern to utilize its 3.81 miles of track from Idlewild to Court Street via the Deer Creek valley after the tunnels were completed.(4b)

On April 4, 1882, the C&E began operations from Court Street, with one train running to Irvington, 62.2 miles from Cincinnati, another to Winchester, and two to New Richmond. By the end of 1882, the C&E had reached Peebles, 72 miles from Cincinnati’s Court Street depot. In May 1883, the railroad had reached Rarden, and Henley in late July.5 On September 14, the C&E went into receivership again. Nevertheless, the C&E was completed to Portsmouth in August 1884, with a 1,000-foot truss over the Scioto River as its centerpiece.2 5

Gauge Conversion

Almost immediately after the completion to Portsmouth, the C&E began preparations for conversion of the line into standard gauge.5 The railroad west of Winchester, however, had deteriorated. The C&E could not also shake off receivership, and in February 1885, another receiver was appointed to the railroad.

By May 1885, the C&E east of Winchester was converted to standard gauge, however, no money was appropriated for standard gauge cars. The court then authorized $180,000 to convert the western front to standard gauge, however, an accident on August 8, 1885 derailed the project. A 800-foot trestle at Nineveh on the New Richmond branch had collapsed, killing three and injuring nine. The disaster greatly aggravated the company’s financial difficulties, and another receiver was appointed.5 This receiver, however, felt it was necessary to reconvert the standard gauge from Winchester to Portsmouth back to narrow gauge in order for the line to generate a profit.

By early 1886, the C&E was once again narrow gauge.5 On September 1, the railroad was sold to a representative of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton (CH&D), however, it defaulted on payments and the railroad was resold on January 5, 1887 to H.B. Morehead, who formed the Ohio & Northwestern Railroad.5

The New Richmond branch was sold on September 1, 1866 to William P. DeVou, who organized it as the Cincinnati, New Richmond & Ohio River Railroad. He planned to extend the railroad to Aberdeen. By July 1889, the railroad ceased operations and was dismantled nine years later.5

Columbus & Maysville

The Columbus & Maysville (C&M) was incorporated on April 27, 1877 and was proposed between the cities of Columbus and Maysville via Washington Court House, Hillsboro, Sardinia, Georgetown, Ripley and Aberdeen.5 6 Construction began on the 19-mile Hillsboto-Sardinia segment in 1878 on a narrow gauge alignment, to conform with the C&E. About 12 miles were completed from Sardinia north in 1878, and another 5.5 miles were laid in 1879 to the junction of the Marietta & Cincinnati, about 1.5 miles west of Hillsboro.5

The first official run was on May 8, 1879,8 and the line was leased to the C&E.6 Local parties in 1880 formed the Hillsboro Railroad Company and constructed the Hillsboro Short Line to bring the railroad further into town, and leased it to the C&M.6 7 On May 25, 1880, the C&M resolved to convert the railroad to standard gauge and to extend the line to Aberdeen.5 No work was completed on either tasks, and the railroad was leased to the C&E.6 The railroad was sold in 1885 to an eastern group. The new company reported that the railroad had been extended to Ripley, however, it in fact had not. It became insolvent and was sold on February 12, 1887 to the Ohio & Northwestern (O&NW), which had been chartered one week prior.5 6

Ohio & Northwestern

The O&NW moved immediately to standard gauge the main line from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, completing the task in November 1887.5 The O&NW also shifted its western alignment to the Little Miami depot as a standard gauge entry into Cincinnati. The O&NW became insolvent rather quickly, however, and it went into receivership on June 15, 1888.

In February 1889, under receivership, the railroad completed five miles of the long-projected Gallipolis extension from Portsmouth to Sciotoville.5 The O&NW was sold on March 13, 1890, which was reorganized as the Cincinnati, Portsmouth & Virginia Railroad (CP&V) on June 24, 1891.5 The C&M was sold separately on May 5, 1890, however, the CP&V was unwilling to resume the lease on the line, but continued to operate over it informally. Fearing abandonment, Hillsboro formed the Hillsboro Railroad, which assumed the lease and began to operate over it as a short line.6 The CP&V completed standard gauge conversions in 1894.3

In December 1900, the shareholders of the CP&V voted to purchase the C&M, but to allow the Hillsboro Railroad continue to lease the line.5 In October 1901, the Norfolk & Western (N&W) merged with the C&M.1 5 The CP&V became the Cincinnati-Portsmouth segment of the N&W. The Hillsboro Railroad Company (former C&M) was purchased by the N&W on July 1, 1902,6 and it became the N&W Hillsboro branch.5


In 1913, the Scioto River Bridge was replaced with a multi-span truss constructed by the American Bridge Company.9 Other trestle replacements included the construction of a girder span over Dry Run in 1941 by the Virginia Bridge Company.9 In 1947, the N&W east of Peebles to Jaybird via Jaybird Creek was realigned when a quarry opened along Plum Run that required the railroad to be rerouted to the north and east. It included a new trestle above Cedar Fork and several miles of new trackage.9 In 1982, the Norfolk & Western Railway consolidated with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Corporation, and the railroad became the Norfolk Southern (NS).2

The NS has railbanked the line east of Peebles to Vera Junction at Portsmouth.

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Idlewild to Claire Yard

Sardinia to Winchester

Winchester to Seaman

Seaman to Peebles

Peebles to Portsmouth

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