The Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad (M&C) is a defunct railroad that connected Cincnnnati, Ohio to Parkersburg, West Virginia. Through acquisitions during the 1800s, the M&C commanded over 270 miles of railroad, from Cincinnati to Marietta and south to Portsmouth and Hillsboro. The line was later absorbed into the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern, and some of the route has been dismantled.

Marietta and Cincinnati

The M&C was chartered on March 8, 1845 as the Belpre and Cincinnati Railroad (B&C)2 3 to connect to either to Parkersburgh, Virginia, or Harmer, Ohio in Washington County.3 8 11 The route west would be through the Hocking Valley via Athens or Chillicothe, to some point on the Little Miami Railroad between Plainville in Hamilton County and the mouth of Obanon Creek in Clermont County near Cincinnati.11 The decision would be left up to the Commissioners to determine the terminus.

The M&C was funded in part by the communities it passed through, notably Cincinnati, Chillicothe and Marietta, and the counties of Athens, Ross and Washington.8

In March, the name of the railroad company was changed toe the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad Company by legislative enactment, in an amendment to the charter of the Franklin and Ohio River Railroad Company (F&OR), which was granted on March 12, 1845.3 11 This amendment authorized the F&OR to construct its railroad from Marietta to a point on the B&C, instead of two and from points named in the original charter.11 The company also considered merging its stock with that of the B&C, in which event the F&OR would change its name to the M&C.

An amendment to the charter on March 7, 1850 allowed the railroad to “construct its road to any point as to connect with any railroad or other improvement constructed to the Ohio River, on the Easterly side thereof, within the State of Virginia.” Another amendment on February 7, 1851, authorized the extension of the railroad to Cincinnati, with the privilege of connecting with or crossing the Little Miami Railroad.

On March 21, 1851, the B&C’s eastern terminus was moved to Marietta and the name of the railroad was renamed to the Marietta and Cincinnati. On the opposite shore nine-miles downstream was Parkersburg, where the Northwestern Virginia Railroad completed a line from the city eastward in 1857.8 The line was leased to the B&O one year prior, and provided the B&O an important connection westward via the M&C. The B&O connected with the M&C via a nine-mile ferry between Parkersburg and Marietta.

Construction began in the spring of 1851 and the 173-mile line opened from Harmar to the Little Miami Railroad at Loveland in 1857.1 8 11

Approximately 12 million was spent to build the road before the commercial crisis of August 1857, when M&C became insolvent.11 Litigation ensued and the railroad was placed into receivership, during which a compromise was reached. A decree for the sale of the railroad and other mortgaged property was rendered on January 7, 1860 and the sale was conducted on February 25, 1860 to the Trustees. The sale was confirmed on May 2, and the railroad was sold to the Trustees who operated the railroad until August 15 when they transferred the road to the reorganized company. The new company was named the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad Company as Reorganized.

The adoption of a share capital, amounting to &$36;8 million, was distributed.11 By this reorganization and sale, about $4.5 million of the stock and debt was erased.

Connecting to the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton

On the western front, the M&C reached the Little Miami Railroad at Loveland, Ohio in 1857,11 where it utilized the Little Miami into the city.1 8 The M&C at this point was in receivership, although this did not stop the first through train from running from Cincinnati to Marietta on April 9. The line reorganized in 1860, and the line was extended southwestward for 24 miles, following the banks of the Little Miami River, and traveled through Madeira, Madisonville and Norwood 4 before funding dried up.5 In 1861 (or February 1866 11), a connection was built to the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton (CH&D) along Ludlow Grove at Ivorydale,8 11 which allowed the M&C to use the CH&D’s Baymiller Street station. Four years later, the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette (IC&L) constructed a station at Plum Street in downtown, and the M&C utilized that station, accessing it via trackage rights on the CH&D. The new mileage, including the trackage rights, was 190.8 miles.11

The extension from Loveland into Cincinnati was not a most profitable venture, as the line had little industry or development along its path.5 The line remained in-and-out of bankruptcy throughout much of the 1870s.8

Hillsboro and Cincinnati

On March 2, 1846, the Hillsboro and Cincinnati Railroad Company was incorporated.3 11 Although not much is known about the railroad’s early history, it was acquired by the M&C in 1861.11 The M&C had purchased 37 miles of track, 16 miles of which were merged into the mainline, with the remaining 21 miles becoming a branch from Blanchester to Hillsboro.

Ohio and Mississippi

The Ohio and Mississippi (O&M) was completed in 1857 and provided a westward connection to East St. Louis from Cincinnati.8 The B&O line was quoted as being the “American Central Route.”There was a problem with the new through route: the M&C east of Cincinnati was standard gauge, while the O&M was broad gauge.8 Passengers and freight had to be carted between the two stations via horse-drawn carriages and wagons. The O&M was also struggling financially, as it traversed through undeveloped areas of southern Indiana and Illinois.

The O&M featured two branches, one south from North Vernon, Indiana to Jeffersonville opposite of Louisville, Kentucky on the Ohio River.8 The other was from Beardstown, Illinois on the Illinois River to Shawneetown on the Ohio, which crossed the O&M main line at Flora.

On July 13, 1871, the O&M completed its conversion of its track to standard gauge, but the railroad was plagued with financial turmoil for several years.8

Union Railroad

The Union Railroad extended from Scott’s Landing, in Washington County, to Belpre on the M&C, a total distance of nine miles.11 The Union Railroad was chartered on September 13, 1858 and work began in the fall, and completed two years later. Soon after its completion, the railroad was purchased by the M&C for $127,000.

Columbus & Cincinnati Midland

The Columbus & Cincinnati Midland Railroad (C&CM) constructed a 70-mile line from Columbus, Ohio to Midland City, where it junctioned with the M&C.8 The C&CM was completed in 1885, and the line became a part of the B&O just five years later. This providing a through route between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati via Wheeling and Columbus.

Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad

The Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad Company (S&HV) was chartered on February 20, 1849 to construct a railroad from Portsmouth, Ohio, along the Ohio River, to Newark in Licking County.11 The railroad’s planned route was north along the east side of the Scioto River to Piketon and Chillicothe and Circleville and eastward to Lancaster and north to Newark. A revision later put the rail line passing through Jackson, Hamden, McArthur, Logan, Somerset and Newark.

Construction began between Portsmouth and Jackson in January 1851, and the first 35-miles was completed to Oak Hill on June 2, 1853.15 The first train to arrive in the town was a steam engine named The Bloomfield. The entire 44-mile route to Jackson was completed in August at a cost of $796,788.11 15 The completion of the initial line was heralded by the organizers of the Jefferson Furnace who had promoted this line over the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad (DT&I).

In February 1853, work began on a 91-mile segment from Jackson to Newark.11 The company issued bonds for $1 million, secured by a first mortgage on all of the railroad, but subject to a mortgage for 300,000 on the portion between Portsmouth and Jackson. Subsequently, the S&HV issued a bond of $2.2 million, of which a part of that was applied to the withdraw of the $1 million that was previously authorized, and to the cancellation of the mortgage that secured them.

In December 1855, the S&HV opened between Jackson and the M&C at Hamden Junction, a distance of 12 miles.11

Due to financial difficulties, the S&HV’s condition had been deemed such an embarrassment that no work further north occurred.11 14 On the portion of the line, between Jackson and Newark, work had been progressing until December 1855 at a cost of $780,604.03, which resulted in 12 miles of railroad ready for use, 42 miles graded and 37 miles “advanced.”

In March 1858, the S&HV was placed into receivership until 1863, when it was sold to several Providence, Rhode Island capitalists, as trustees of the bondholders, for $411,000.14 The railroad was reorganized as the Portsmouth and Newark Railroad Company on January 20, 1864,15 and then sold in May 1864 under a decree in the Perry County Court of Commons Pleas to three trustees to the M&C.11 The portion purchased extended 56 miles from Hamden Junction to Portsmouth, and was thereafter referred to as the Portsmouth Branch of the M&C.

As a result of the acquisition, the M&C featured 276 miles of railroad, with a stock of $14,256,253.42, $4,188,385.27 of funded debt and $650,063.61 of floating debt.11 The M&C featured 80 passenger and freight stations, ten engine houses and shops, and twenty water stations. The main stations for the M&C were Cincinnati, Loveland, Chillicothe, Marietta, Hillsboro and Portsmouth.

The Quakertown #2 mine was the first coal mine to be serviced by the railroad in Jackson County beginning around the end of the Civil War.13 At the time, the only railroad was the M&C Portsmouth Branch, which passed through Petrea, about two miles northeast of Jackson along today’s Ohio State Route 788.

About 1/4-mile west of Petrea was a small coal loading dock that was above the railroad.13 The coal was brought to the dock via a small slope mine that was located on an 800-acre tract of land that belonged to William T. McClintock. The mine was located in a remote hollow northwest of Petrea, and was not accessible via railcar. Instead, the coal was loaded into small mine cars, and hauled via mule for 1/2-mile on a narrow-gauge rail tram.

In 1866, the M&C built a spur line up the hollow just to the west of the general store, where a tipple was constructed for the Petrea Mine.13 The mine tram brought the coal to the tipple from four underground entrances and a strip mine. This became the first true railroad mine for the county.

A roundhouse was completed in Wellston in the early 1880s.12

On January 1, 1883,15 the railroad was sold to the Cincinnati, Washington and Baltimore Railroad.14

Baltimore and Ohio

The Cincinnati, Baltimore and Washington Railway Company (CB&W) was incorporated on February 16, 1883 and purchased the M&C. The CB&W was merged with the the B&O Southwest (SW), along with the Cincinnati and Baltimore and the Baltimore Short Line, on December 20, 1889.3 12 14 The C&CM was purchased in 1890.8 The O&M was purchased by the B&O in 1893, and the line was formally merged into the B&O SW in December 1899.14

The Wellston roundhouse and yard were discontinued on January 18, 1961.12

In 1973, the B&O was merged into the Chessie System. The Mill Creek yards were merged into Queensgate. In 1986, the Chessie System became CSX Transportation.

In 1985, the last through train was moved between Greenfield and Parkersburg. Soon after, the tracks were removed between Greenfield and Athens. The tracks through Athens and eastward to Parkersburg remained in place due to rumored coal trains that were to be needed along the Ohio River. But the increase in traffic never occurred, and the line from Athens east was dismantled in November 1991.10 Through CSX traffic is routed either north at Willard or south through Huntington, West Virginia.

The remaining segments, as of 2002, became known as the CSX Midland Subdivision and the Cincinnati to Columbus route. It utilizes the M&C from Ivorydale north of Cincinnati, where it intersected with the CH&D to the C&CM, where it proceeds north.


On August 22, 1862, two bridges on the M&C east of Loveland were burned by Confederate sympathizers.6 A freight line ran through one of the damaged bridges, wrecking an engine and three cars, but no fatalities or major injuries were reported. In late September 1868, the Pitcher Tunnel caught fire, causing a cave-in on September 27 that buried two individuals.7 While a construction engine was backing up to the scene of the incident, it ran over two hand-cars, killing five men and seriously injuring three others, two of whom later died.

After the Civil War, the B&O constructed two bridges across the Ohio River at Wheeling and Parkersburg.8 Work on the crossing at Parkersburg, which connected to the M&C at Belpre, Ohio, began in July 1869. The 7,100-foot structure, including approaches, was opened on January 7, 1871.

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Loveland to Greenfield

Portsmouth Subdivision

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