The Little Miami Railroad (LMRR) is a defunct railroad connecting Cincinnati, Ohio to Xenia. It was the second chartered railroad in the state, after the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad Company.2 Incorporated on March 11, 1836, the railroad was to construct a line from Springfield to Xenia and Cincinnati.2 15 It’s northern connection would be with the projected Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and the completion of the Little Miami would mean a continuous line from the Ohio River to Lake Erie.15 The charter called for a total sum of $750,000 in shares of $50 each.2
On August 24, 1837, George W. Neff was elected the LMRR’s first president, but he resigned on the following day.2 Governor Jeremiah Morrow was selected as his replacement, and served without pay.1
The first meeting held, at Linton’s Hotel in Waynesville on May 13, 1836, was to sell stock. Another meeting was held on June 2 at Xenia. Construction failed to start, as aid promised by the state was withdrawn due to the economic conditions, and as stock subscribed by farmers was paid in produce — which was often sold at a loss.2 Sticking with their original vision and integrity, the stockholders never received dividends until 1848; every penny of earnings was invested back into the railroad.
Construction of the rail line began in 1837, with grading commencing simultaneously south from Xenia and north from Cincinnati to Fosters.2 The southernmost line from Cincinnati went due east along the Ohio River for five miles, then headed north along the Little Miami River valley.
By 1840, the first section of the railroad, from Columbia to Kugler’s Mills, was completed.3 Due to the 1837 economic crisis, cheap wooden rails were installed in place of iron, although they were replaced with iron rails from England one year later; the first locomotive and passenger car were also ordered. Grading was completed to Morrow’s Mills and rails laid to Kugler’s Mills.3 On December 14, 1841, the first train was put into operation from Cincinnati to Milford, completing the journey between the two cities in just 90 minutes.1 2 15 Just a few months later, the railroad was complete to Fosters.2
Surveying work was initiated for a line north to Kings Mill, South Lebanon and Lebanon via the Little Miami and Turtle Creek valley.1 The proposed alignment, however, featured a grade of 33 feet per mile, and was considered too steep for the locomotives at the time. The route, instead, was constructed along the Little Miami to Morrow, Fort Ancient, Oregonia and Waynesville.
In 1842, a bridge was constructed across the Little Miami River at Miamiville.3 One year later, the first permanent depot was constructed at Pendleton, with two tracks inside a brick and wood structure.14 The line was also complete to Foster’s Crossing, and by July 1844, the LMRR had reached Deerfield;3 it was extended to Morrow by December.2 By August 1845, the LMRR was complete to Xenia.1 15 One year later, a connection was constructed to the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad at Springfield, completing a railroad from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.2 15 Interestingly enough, railroad locomotives were prohibited from entering Cincinnati until 1845, and thus cars were uncoupled and hauled into the city via horses.
In 1848, LMRR’s second depot was constructed at East Front and Kilgore Streets in Cincinnati.14 By 1850, all of the old wooden-strap iron rails were replaced by iron T-rails.3 15
Columbus & Xenia Railroad
The Columbus & Xenia Railroad (C&X) was constructed between 1848 and 1849, connecting Columbus to Xenia. The first passenger train between the LMRR and the C&X ran on February 20, 1850.2 On November 30, 1853, the Little Miami and the C&X merged operations, however, their companies still operated independent from each other for financial purposes.1 2 Around that time, the Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad connected with the LMRR at Morrow.3
In 1853, the third LMRR station was completed on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati near Butler Street.14 By 1856, the LMRR had 116 miles of track, and the C&X had 63 miles.1
Just ten years prior, the Hillsboro and Cincinnati Railroad (H&C) was chartered to construct a line between Hillsboro and Loveland, to connect with the LMRR.1 By 1850, the H&C had completed 37 miles between the two terminus’s. The H&C leased its line in perpetuity to the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad (M&C), which eventually became the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s mainline.
In 1862, the LMRR teamed with the Cincinnati & Indiana Railroad to construct a line along the Cincinnati riverfront to link both of their individual depots.1 On January 1, 1865, the LMRR and the C&X agreed to lease the Dayton & Western (D&W) and the Richmond & Miami (R&M) Railways. They later purchased the division of the Dayton, Xenia & Belpre (DX&B) between Columbus and Xenia.2 This gave the Little Miami routes to Cincinnati, Columbus, Springfield, and Richmond, Indiana via Dayton from Xenia.14
On November 30, 1868, the LMRR dissolved the consolidation agreement with the C&X, and instead, took a lease for 99 years of the C&X, which included all rights and interests in the D&W, DX&B and the R&M.2 At this point, the LMRR had 123.5 miles of track, while the C&X had 75.5 miles.1
One year later, on December 1, 1869,2 the LMRR leased all its property to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway Company (PC&St.L) for $480,000 per year.1 3 The lease was for 99 years, renewable forever.2 15 The PC&St.L was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, who guaranteed payments on the line by co-signing the lease. At the time of the lease, the LMRR consisted of 195.5 miles of track.1 Operation of the railroad was maintained through the Pennsylvania Railroad. The combined length of the lines was 196 miles, and was one of the most profitable railroads in the United States, earning $6,081 while expending $4,4458 per mile in 1879.2
In 1881, the LMRR constructed a station at Pearl Street in Cincinnati.14 The Victorian brick building , also known as the Panhandle Station and Union Station, featured six tracks under an iron and wood train shed. The station would later be shared with,
- The Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley, which had trackage rights on the LMRR from Morrow.
- The Louisville & Nashville, particularly for the Short Line coming from Louisville. It would descend the ramp from the Newport & Cincinnati Ohio River bridge, and reverse direction at “OA” to reach the platforms.
- The Pennsylvania Railroad Richmond Branch. When it was completed to Rendcomb Junction, Chicago trains began using the depot.
- The Cincinnati & Eastern, which came via Clare and the Little Miami.
On August 28, 1890, the PC&St.L merged with several railroad companies to form the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (Big Four).1 On October 1, the Cincinnati Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad was formed from the Little Miami Railroad.14
The LMRR continued to exist as a separate corporation, although much of its stock was controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1907, the LMRR conducted major expansion projects that included Undercliff yard and the Torrance Road station in Cincinnati.14 In 1916, an elevation project raised the rail bed to protect against the Ohio River. The platforms were also lengthened at the Pearl Street station.
On September 24, 1939, the Xenia to Springfield line were ceded to the Columbus Division of the PRR.14
Traffic peaked on the LMRR in the 1930s, when 24 daily trains were running in a typical eight-hour day.3 Although most of the traffic was freight, the “Accommodation” ran daily between Cincinnati and New York City. After World War II, however, the line became freight-only.
On November 1, 1955, the Cincinnati Division was abolished and merged with the Buckeye Division.14 In 1964, the line became known as the Cincinnati & Xenia Branch, Buckeye Division, and the Cincinnati & Xenia Branch, Cincinnati Division, Southern Region of Penn Central four years later.14
In 1963, after 30 years of disuse, the Panhandle depot was demolished.14
In early 1967, the Pennsylvania Railroad ended freight service between Xenia and Yellow Springs due to competition from the trucking industry.2 One year later, the railroad consolidated with the New York Central to form the Penn Central Railroad. This was not favorable for the railroad due to the numerous small towns along the route, each with full taxing authority.14 The line also had a few industries that were either preparing to close, or could survive without rail service. The New York Central/Big Four from Columbus was a much more superior alternative, in these respects. The Big Four line also had modern signaling and easy grades, whereas the Little Miami had signaling that dated to 1942, and a right-of-way that was along a river lacking flood protection.14
As such, the railroad rerouted the lone Cincinnati to Columbus passenger train through Dayton and Springfield, ending all passenger service on the Little Miami Railroad.2 Most PRR lines that had been in the Cincinnati Division became part of Penn Central’s Cincinnati Division, a collection of lines surrounded around the ex-New York Central hump yard at Sharonville. Subsequently, most PRR facilities in Cincinnati were downgraded.14
In 1970, the Penn Central Company went into bankruptcy.1 By 1972, Penn Central began initiatives to abandon the majority of north-south routes in Ohio and Indiana.14 The wisdom of this became clear when the Louisville & Nashville, along with the Southern and the Chesapeake & Ohio, were merged into competitors of Penn Central’s successor, Conrail.
In 1974, the signals were turned off between Xenia and Cincinnati.14 15 Two years later, in April 1976, Penn Central was taken over by Conrail.2 On July 29, the LMRR south of Spring Valley was dismantled.3 At that point, the LMRR was still an active corporation.1 The segment from Clare to Red Bank was sold to the Norfolk & Western (N&W) as part of their Richmond Branch purchase.14 The remaining active segment was sold to the Indiana & Ohio Railway (IORY) in 1986. As of 2002, the Clare to Oasis segment was still operated by the IORY.14
Rail to trail
The Little Miami Scenic Trail, also known as the Little Miami Scenic River Trail and the Little Miami Bike Trail,4, is the longest paved trail in the United States, stretching for 76 miles from Newtown to Springfield.5 It is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as the Little Miami State Park, and the linear park is 50 miles long and averages 66 feet in width.6 It averages 350,000 attendants per year.7
The trail was formed in 1984 along the former right-of-way of the LMRR, from Spring Valley in Greene County to the limits of Terrace Park in Hamilton County.8 In 1998, the trail was extended northward to Springfield,9 and south to Newtown in 2006 10 after an elongated battle with Terrace Park residents.11
In 2008, portions of the trail were temporarily closed due to pavement and bridge deterioration as a result of the state’s budget deficit.12 13