The Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad (CH&D) is a former railroad that between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio via Hamilton, with a branch that extended into the coalfields of Jackson County.


Chartered on March 2, 1846, as the Cincinnati & Hamilton Railroad, 8 the CH&D was opened between Cincinnati and Dayton on September 18, 1851. 7

The CH&D acquired the Dayton & Michigan Railroad in 1863, the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad (later part of the Erie Railroad) in 1865, the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, the Cincinnati, Richmond & Chicago (formerly the Eaton & Hamilton) in 1869, the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis (formerly the Junction Railroad) in 1872, and the Cincinnati, Dayton & Chicago Railroad in 1891. In March 1891, it acquired the Cincinnati, Dayton & Ironton Railroad and the Cincinnati & Dayton Railway (formerly the Louisville, Cincinnati & Dayton) on July 12, 1895. The CH&D sold the Hamilton to Richmond, Indiana route, part of the former Eaton & Hamilton, to the Cincinnati & Richmond Railroad, part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in 1886.

By 1902, the CH&D operated over 640 miles of track.

The CH&D acquired most of the stock of the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1904, controlling it until 1907. In 1905, the Erie Railroad briefly controlled the CH&D. Finally, in July 1909, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) agreed to purchase the CH&D within seven years, completing the purchase at auction on June 7, 1917.


American Midland Railroad

The American Midland Railroad, which became the Findlay, Fort Wayne & Western (FFW&W) in June 1890, opened between Fort Wayne, Indiana and Findlay, Ohio on January 1, 1895. 10 The FWW&W served a region that was booming due to the discovery of natural gas. 12 On November 1, 1901, the CH&D acquired the FFW&W, but it sold at foreclosure on July 7, 1903 to the Cincinnati, Findlay & Fort Wayne Railway. The CH&D leased the line back on November 1 but the FFW&W once again went into receivership on July 2, 1914, and the CH&D lease was cancelled. By March 4, 1918, the never-successful passenger operation on the FFW&W was cut to tri-week rides. In 1919, the FFW&W was abandoned.

Cincinnati, Findlay & Fort Wayne Railroad

The New York, Mahoning & Western Railroad was chartered in 1887 to serve the Findlay region, but nothing came about until the 78-mile Cincinnati, Findlay & Fort Wayne Railroad (CF&FW) opened in 1895 between Findlay’s Toledo & Ohio Central Railway West Division and Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Pennsylvania and Wabash railroads. 13 Initially, the Findlay, Fort Wayne & Western Railway, the CF&FW was operated by the CH&D when it reorganised in 1901.

In 1904, an extension eastward was completed to the CH&D Delphos-Dayton branch, formerly a part of the Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad (TC&St.L). After the B&O purchased the CH&D in 1916, the TC&StL connection was removed, and by 1919, most of the CF&FW was shuttered. The section from the Cincinnati Northern at Haviland to Grover Hill was removed in 1920.

McComb, Deshler & Toledo Railroad

The 9-mile McComb, Deshler & Toledo Railroad (MD&T) was incorporated on June 2, 1879, with a capital of $20,000 with the purpose of building a line from McComb to Deshler, Ohio. 9 10 The MD&T agreed with the Dayton & Michigan Railroad (part of the CH&D) to grade and tie the line, 11 while the MD&T would be responsible for the laying of the track and operating it perpetually as a branch of the CH&D. Grading began in early 1880 and on November 24, the first train arrived in McComb. The MD&T later extended to Findlay.

Chessie abandoned the line from Deshler to McComb in the 1980’s. The remainder to Findlay became a part of the Findlay Northwestern Railroad.

Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad

The Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad (TC&StL), a subsidiary of the Toledo, Delphos & Burlington Railroad (TD&B), was a narrow-gauge line that was built between 1879 to 1882. The TD&B extended from Toledo, via Delphos, Dayton, Chillicothe and Wellston, to Dean, and from Dean south to Ironton via the Iron Railroad. The TD&B was itself a merger of the Iron Railroad that was based out of Ironton, Ohio and several other railroads. 1 The financially troubled TC&StL entered receivership in 1883 and split at foreclosure. The CH&D acquired a portion of the TC&StL between Dayton and Ironton, which became their Southeastern Division.

Accessing the Coalfields

As early as December 1870, the Dayton & Mineral Region Railroad Company was incorporated to secure abundant coal from the southeast Ohio region. 14 The Dayton and Southeastern Railroad (D&SE) proposed a line east and south of Dayton towards Wellston towards that goal. 3 It was completed between Dayton to Xenia in 1877 and extended to Wellston in Jackson County in 1880. 3

In Jackson County, the D&SE followed Pigeon Creek from Vinton County to Byer and arrived at Coalton from the northwest. 3 At Coalton, the railroad overlapped with the Springfield, Jackson and Pomeroy Railroad (SJ&P), which later became part of the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad (DT&I).

The D&SE opened up the Coalton to the coalfields north and northwest of the city. The first mines along the route opened in the vicinity of Glen Neil, with spurs going to the east and west of the railroad. 3 At the northern edge of Coalton was one of the most famous mines in the region.

Known as the Patterson Mine, it was owned by the Southern Ohio Coal and Iron Company – also known as the S.O.C.&I. mine or “Sock-In-Eye.” John Patterson used the world’s first cash register at the Patterson mine’s company store, leading to the founding of the National Cash Register Company in Dayton. In 1893, the Superior Coal Company purchased the mine and enlarged it, becoming the most prominent underground mine in the county. 3

The plentiful coal reserves began waning after the 1950’s. The CH&D roundhouse and yard in Wellston were discontinued on January 18, 1961, and the freight station closed on February 3, 1976, with all freight movements handled in Oak Hill. In 1982, the CH&D was abandoned from Dayton to Wellston.

South to Ironton

The Toledo, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad (TC&StL) was completed in 1882 as a narrow gauge line from Ironton Junction south of Wellston to Bartles/Dean Junction, 6 providing service to Kitchen, Gallia, Hoadley, and Olive. The route south of Ironton Junction included four tunnels:

  • Tunnel No. 1 at Hoadley that was brick lined.
  • Tunnel No. 2 at Hoadley that was 693 feet long with a rock interior and timber portals, and which was partially concrete lined in 1916.
  • Tunnel No. 3 at Tar Kiln Run east of Dean.
  • Tunnel No. 4 at Royersville, which was operated by the Iron Railroad, later part of the DT&I.

Owing to a lack of coal mines on the route, the TC&StL was not successful and went through several receiverships and acquisitions beginning in 1884. The line was standard gauged in 1887 and absorbed by the CH&D in 1891, becoming their Ironton Branch. 5

In 1915, improvements were begun on the line south of Wellston, primarily to the tunnels. Concrete lining was started at Tunnel No. 2 but flooding in 1916 washed out substantial portions of the CH&D south of Wellston. The railroad opted to abandon the route from Wellston to Dean Junction, including tunnels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. 1 4

In 1917, the CH&D was merged into the B&O, forming the Toledo Division.


The CH&D Buckeye Branch left Wellston travelling southeast, following Little Raccoon Creek for several miles where it split into two branches at Downard. 2 The southern fork went through the vicinity of the Buckeye Furnace, while the northern fork travelled along Rich Run. The line was dismantled from the former Stone Wall Jackson Mine to No. 17 on the Buckeye Branch on February 23, 1942. 1 The remainder of the Buckeye Branch from McNally Pittsburg to No. 17 was closed on February 2, 1969.

South of Berlin Crossroads, the CH&D ran a spur line from the Ironton Branch to the McKell Mine. 2 Years later, the B&O would almost parallel the McKell spur with tracks into the Broken Aro strip mine tipple. Another spur at Gee Town, several mines south of Berlin Crossroads, served two mines.