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The Cincinnati & Westwood was a short lived suburban railway from the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton to Westwood, then a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. It carried very little traffic from its inception to its closure in 1941.

History

The Cincinnati & Westwood Railroad (C&W) was organized on May 20, 1874 by seven residents of Westwood, then a suburb of Cincinnati.1

Westwood, until the early 1900s, was considered too remote and hilly to attract many residents in the early years of Cincinnati.2 The land attracted few, except those seeking estate lots and small farms, especially those seeking an escape from the urban congestion of the basin.4 Some of the more prominent residents to take root included James Gamble, co-founder of Proctor & Gamble, and Michael Werk, another soap and candle manufacturer.

Werk owned a considerable amount of land, and envisioned that Western Hills would develop, although it required reliable and cheap transportation into Cincinnati proper.2 The first attempt was with the Harrison Turnpike, a macadam road that was not too popular due to the distance. The most obvious path up to Western Hills from Cincinnati was via Lick Run Hollow. At one point, the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad considered using the valley as a route west of the city to St. Louis, however, it chose a route along the Ohio River through Lawrenceburg.

Frustrated with flat real estate prices, Werk and other community leaders obtained a charter from the State of Ohio for a steam railroad.2 Funding raised by stock sales were minimal, however, and the leaders hoped to construct the railroad by building on the cheap. Ties were spaced further apart; rails were lighter gauge; and wooden trestles were constructed with reinforcement. It also opted to adopt narrow gauge. These would later backfire, as the railroad became more expensive to operate and maintain. Just six years after the railroad opened, the C&W managers would admit the the narrow gauge was a mistake and that it would convert to standard gauge at the earliest possible time.2

The alignment chosen for the C&W deviated from Brighton Station along the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad (CH&D), three miles from downtown, and proceed over a large fill and crossed over Beekman Street near the Lunkenheimer factory.2 It then climbed a steep grade up Lick Run via several trestles,4 until it reached the summit at Werk Road. It passed through Western Hills, between and parallel to Daytona and Montana avenues, and ended at the James Robb farm west of Cheviot via a 400-foot-long trestle.

On May 20, 1874, Westwood leaders secured a Certificate of Organization to the C&W.4 The line was supported by 40 subscribers, including James Gamble, Michael Werk, Fred Schwartze, F.H. Oehlman, Charles Reemelin and James Rubb, who all wanted to promote the values of their large tracts of land.

Construction of the narrow gauge line began in the fall of 1875.1 4 But the line was not without its controversies. The Harrison Pike Company opposed the C&W, especially in regards to the crossing the railroad desired. When railroad workers laid tracks across Harrison, a long legal battle ensued. The C&W, already under-subscribed by this point, was fined $3,000 for trespass and destruction of property.4

The railroad opened on May 22, 1876,1 4 offering 25 tickets for $1, or annual commuter passes for $5.40. The line, with four stations, was only 5.63 miles long.2 In early 1877, an engine house, wye, and a windmill to pump water for a trackside tank were completed.2

The railroad was financially unsuccessful from the beginning, and freight consisted of mostly ice from local ponds outbound and coal inbound,1 to minor to even list in the 1880 Ohio State Railway Commission Report.2 By March, the railroad was already behind in payments. Werk stepped in to manage the failing operation, using some of his personal money to pay for operating expenses. But it was not enough: residents of Western Hills desired cheap, frequent service. The fare was 6 2/3 cents, which did not cover operating costs, and the trains were only carrying 75 passengers per day.2

Werk pumped large sums of money into the ailing railroad: $7,000 in 1877, the cost of 15 cars at some later point, and $20,000 in 1882.4

In 1882, the C&W proposed an extension of the railroad west to Harrison, so that it would connect with the White Water Valley Railroad (WWV).2 It would offer an entrance into Cincinnati for the WWV, and would also require the C&W to rebuild its line into standard gauge. The plan never made it off of the initial planning phase due to cost.

Conditions on the railroad deteriorated further. The sparse railroad ties were dry rotting, and the rails featured ‘deep rust’.2 In addition, the trestles and the engines were in need of major repair. As a result, the railroad was put up for sale, although there were no offers.

Werk eventually tired of the constant headaches of the C&W, and refused to finance the railroad any further.2

The railroad suspended operations on September 1, 1886, after the Ohio Railroad Commission ordered service stopped due to severe deterioration along the line.2 4 Operations ceased, and the bondholders purchased the railroad, who announced in November that it would be dismantled and sold for scrap. The line was not dismantled, however, and was sold under foreclosure on May 30, 1887.1 It was reorganized and resumed operation on August 1 after hasty repairs, funded in part by James Gamble.2 The Ohio Railroad Commission Report of that year listed the C&W’s length at 6.13 miles.2

By August 23, 1891, the C&W was converted to standard gauge so that passenger traffic from the CH&D could connect with Western Hills.1 2 Upon conversion, the railroad had its western terminus relocated about a half mile to Glenmore. Traffic on the line had increased substantially, although it still ran a deficit.2

In September 1895, the Cincinnati Street Railway opened an electric line to Westwood, which decimated passenger traffic along the C&W. On August 11, 1896, passenger traffic ceased.

In 1911, the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Railroad (I&C) desired the C&W for its potential connection to Hamilton via the CH&D.2 The Chesapeake & Ohio of Indiana, whose new main line passed through Western Hills, eyed the line as a switching connection to the CH&D. Gamble, however, held out on the line in hope that the C&W would be used in the new rapid transit and subway proposal for Cincinnati.

On May 31, 1924,1 2, all operations ceased on the C&W. Two remaining engines were stored in a wooden shed near Lischer Avenue, and a small gasoline powered rail car was operated on the line each day to demonstrate that the railroad was operating and not abandoned.2 This was necessary tto maintain the corporation’s state charter.

In July 1928, Gamble leased the C&W to the Southwestern Ohio Development Company, a shell corporation formed by the Cincinnati Street Railway.2 The goal was to use the line for the still-proposed rapid transit and subway line.

In mid-1939, new rail was installed on the Westwood streetcar line.2 Officials debated replacing the C&W crossing at Harrison Avenue, although it would be costly to replace outright for a railroad that had all but ceased operations. Instead, the rails of the C&W were placed up to the streetcar tracks, but no actual crossing was installed. No rail vehicle could pass over the streetcar rails without having to slow to a complete stop, creep over the rails, and continue on.

On July 29, 1941, however, the lack of traffic caused the railroad to cease operations.1 This coincided with the abandonment of the rapid transit and subway proposal.2

Today

Only a short spur, now abandoned, remains of the former C&W. The spur deviated from the CH&D just north of Queen City Avenue to serve the Lunkenheimer factory on Beekman Street.

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