The Cincinnati & Eastern Railway (C&E) is an active and out-of-service a railroad from Idlewild in Norwood to Portsmouth, Ohio operated today by Norfolk Southern and Cincinnati East Terminal Railway.

At its western terminus, it connected with the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern (CL&N) and the Pennsylvania Railroad Richmond Division (PRR) and to the Scioto Valley Railway at its eastern terminus.


The C&E was chartered as the Cincinnati, Batavia & Williamsburg Railway on January 11, 1876. 5 It was projected to extend from Cincinnati east to Williamsburg, although the eastern terminus was changed 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 and by October 18, 1876, the line was open from Batavia Junction to Batavia, a distance of 15 miles. 5 By August 4, 1877, the C&E had reached Winchester, a distance of 48 miles.

On March 1, 1878, the C&E opened the first portion of a branch to New Richmond from Richmond Junction to Tobasco, a distance of five miles. 5 At its western terminus was a connection to the Cincinnati, Georgetown * Portsmouth (CG&P).

A 5½ mile western extension to the Miami Valley Railroad, later the CL&N Idlewild Branch, was completed in June. 4b The Miami Valley had proposed a narrow-gauge connection to Cincinnati via a tunnel through the Deer Creek valley. 5 When the Deer Creek tunnel project ran into financial difficulties, the C&E found that its connection to Cincinnati useless and forced the railroad to enter into receivership on January 27, 1879.

Shortly after, the New Richmond branch was extended to Blairville, a distance of 11 miles and to New Richmond on March 1, 1880, a distance of 14 miles. 5

Shareholders voted to increase the capital stock from $500,000 to $2 million and authorized a bond issue to connect the railroad to Portsmouth and to Gallipolis on November 21, 1880. 5

The C&E exited receivership on March 1, 1881. 5 In February 1882, the C&E signed a trackage agreement with the Cincinnati Northern to utilize its 3.8 miles of line from Idlewild to Court Street via the Deer Creek valley and two tunnels. 4b

The C&E began operations from Court Street on April 4, 1882. 5 Trains departed to Irvington, Winchester and New Richmond daily. By the end of the year, the C&E had reached Peebles and Rarden by May 1883.

The C&E entered receivership again on September 14. 5 Nevertheless, the C&E was completed to Vera Junction just north of Portsmouth, which included a 1,000-foot truss bridge over the Scioto River, in August 1884. 2 5

Gauge Conversion

The C&E began preparations for the conversion of the line to standard gauge shortly after the completion of the railroad to Portsmouth. 5 But by February 1885, the C&E’s finances had not improved and another receiver was appointed for the railroad.

The C&E east of Winchester was converted to standard gauge by May but no money had been appropriated for standard gauge cars. 5 A court authorized receiver approved the expenditure of $180,000 to convert the line west of Winchester to standard gauge.

The collapse of the 800-foot Nineveh trestle on the New Richmond branch on August 8 scuttled those plans, however. 5 The disaster greatly aggravated the railroad’s financial issues and another receiver was appointed. The new receiver 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 The railroad was sold to a representative of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton (CH&D) on September 1, however, it defaulted on payments and the railroad. The C&E 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 reorganized it as the Cincinnati, New Richmond & Ohio River Railroad (CNR&OR). 5 He planned to extend the railroad to Aberdeen, but by July 1889, theCNR&OR ceased operations.

Columbus & Maysville

The Columbus & Maysville (C&M) was incorporated on April 27, 1877 as a railroad between Columbus and Maysville via Washington Court House, Hillsboro, Sardinia, Georgetown, Ripley and Aberdeen. 5 6 Construction began on the 19 mile Hillsboro to Sardinia segment in 1878 on a narrow gauge alignment to conform with the C&E. About 12 miles were completed from Sardinia northward 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 of the C&M was held on May 8, 1879. 8 The C&M was subsequently was leased to the C&E. 6 Local interests formed the Hillsboro Railroad Company in 1880 and constructed the Hillsboro Short Line to bring the railroad further into town, leasing 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 over financial concerns. 6 The C&M was sold in 1885 to other interests. It became insolvent and on February 12, 1887, was sold to the newly chartered Ohio & Northwestern (O&NW). 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 Railroad depot. Like its predecessors, the O&NW became insolvent and 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, reorganizing as the Cincinnati, Portsmouth & Virginia Railroad (CP&V) on June 24, 1891.

The C&M was sold separately on May 5, 1890. 5 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 and not allow the Hillsboro Railroad continue to lease the line. 5

The Norfolk & Western (N&W) merged with the C&M in October 1901. 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 becoming N&W Hillsboro branch. 5

Later Improvements and Closure

The Scioto River bridge was replaced with a multi-span truss constructed by the American Bridge Company in 1913. 9 Other trestle replacements included the erection of a girder span over Dry Run in 1941 by the Virginia Bridge Company.

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 track. 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 railbanked the Cincinnati-Portsmouth alignment east of Peebles to Vera Junction at Portsmouth in 2001.


Idlewild to Claire Yard

Sardinia to Winchester

Winchester to Seaman

Seaman to Peebles

Peebles to Portsmouth