The Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad (C&E) is an active and out-of-service railroad between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, Ohio.
The Cincinnati & Eastern Railway (C&E) is an active and out-of-service railroad between Claire and Portsmouth, Ohio. 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 active portion between Claire and Peebles is operated today by the Cincinnati Eastern Railroad (CCET).
The Cincinnati, Batavia & Williamsburg Railway was chartered on January 11, 1876, with the intent to construct a railway between Cincinnati and Williamsburg. 5 By that May, the name was changed to the Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad (C&E) to reflect an extension of the proposed line to Portsmouth. 4a 5 It was projected that the C&E would become a primary coal-hauling route between the Jackson County coalfields and Cincinnati.
Saddled with cash, the C&E was opened for 15 miles between Batavia Junction and Batavia by October 18, 5 and by August 4, 1877, the line stretched for 48 miles to Winchester. The railroad then opened the five-mile-long New Richmond Branch towards New Richmond from the Cincinnati, Georgetown & Portsmouth Railway at Richmond Junction to Tobasco on March 1, 1878.
A 5½-mile extension of the C&E west to the Miami Valley Railroad (MV) was completed in June. 4b The MV had proposed a narrow-gauge connection to Cincinnati via a tunnel through the Deer Creek valley, but after the tunnel project ran into financial difficulties, the C&E found that its connection to Cincinnati was useless which forced it to enter into receivership on January 27, 1879. 5 Nonetheless, the New Richmond Branch was extended to Blairsville by early 1880 and to New Richmond on March 1, giving it a total distance of 14 miles.
Excited by the prospects of connecting the C&E with the vast coal reserves of the southern part of the state, shareholders voted to increase the capital stock from $500,000 to $2 million and authorized a bond issue to finish the railroad from Winchester to Portsmouth on November 21, 1880. 5 It ultimately desired an extension east to Gallipolis.
The C&E exited receivership on March 1, 1881. 5 In February 1882, it signed an agreement with the Cincinnati Northern Railroad (CN) to operate over 3.8 miles of its line between Idlewild and Court Street in downtown Cincinnati via its Deer Creek alignment to obtain access to its Court Street passenger station. 4b The C&E began daily passenger operations from Court Street to Irvington, Winchester, and New Richmond on April 4, 1882. 5
The C&E mainline was finished to Peebles by 1883, to Rarden by May, and to the Scioto Valley Railway at Vera Junction north of Portsmouth in August 1884, which included the erection of a 1,000-foot bridge over the Scioto River. 2 5 Unfortunately, the high expense of the crossing and the alignment through the Scioto Brush Creek valley forced the railroad to enter receivership on September 14. 5
Shortly after the completion of its railroad to Portsmouth, the C&E began preparations to convert from narrow gauge to standard gauge. 5 But by 1885, the railroad’s finances had not improved and another receiver was appointed.
The line between Winchester and Vera Junction was converted to standard gauge by May but no money was appropriated for standard gauge cars. 5 A court-authorized receiver approved the expenditure of $180,000 to convert the line between Winchester and Idlewild to standard gauge, but the collapse of the 800-foot Nineveh trestle on the New Richmond Branch on August 8 scuttled those plans.
The disaster greatly aggravated the railroad’s financial issues and another receiver was appointed who 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. 5 By early 1886, the C&E was once again narrow gauge.
The railroad was sold to a representative of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad (CH&D) on September 1. 5 It defaulted on payments, and the railroad was resold to H.B. Morehead who formed the Ohio & Northwestern Railroad (O&NW) on January 5, 1887. Separately, the New Richmond Branch was sold to William P. DeVou on September 1, 1866. Reorganized as the Cincinnati, New Richmond & Ohio River Railroad (CNR&OR), DeVou planned to extend the line eastward to Aberdeen but the line had ceased operations by July 1889.
Columbus & Maysville
The Columbus & Maysville Railway (C&M) was incorporated to connect Columbus, Ohio, and Maysville, Kentucky via Washington Court House, Hillsboro, Sardinia, Georgetown, Ripley, and Aberdeen on April 27, 1877. 5 6 Construction began on a 19-mile segment between the C&E in Sardinia and Hillsboro in 1878, and 12 miles of the narrow gauge line were finished by the end of the year. 5 The route was extended 5½-miles north to the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad in 1879. 5
The first train operated over the entirety of the C&M on May 8, 1879, 8 after which the line 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 C&M further into town. 6 7 The Short Line was subsequently leased to the C&M.
The C&M was converted to standard gauge in early 1880, and the line was extended to Aberdeen by May. 5 No further work on the railroad was completed over financial concerns. 6
Ohio & Northwestern
The O&NW moved immediately to standard gauge its mainline between Cincinnati to Portsmouth which was completed by November 1887. 5 The railroad then shifted its western terminus from the Cincinnati Northern passenger depot on Court Street to the nearby depot for the Little Miami Railroad.
The O&NW went into receivership on June 15, 1888. 5 Under receivership, the railroad completed five miles of its long-awaited extension to Gallipolis between Portsmouth and Sciotoville in February 1889. The company was sold on March 13, 1890, and reorganized 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, the town of Hillsboro formed the Hillsboro Railroad and assumed the lease 6 until December 1900, when the CP&V voted to purchase the Hillsboro Railroad and operate it as its Hillsboro Branch. 5
Norfolk & Western
The Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) merged with the CP&V in October 1901, 1 5 with the Cincinnati to Vera Junction mainline becoming the N&W’s Cincinnati Division. The Hillsboro Branch was also acquired by the N&W on July 1, 1902. 5 6
The Scioto River bridge at Vera Junction was replaced with new multi-span trusses fabricated by the American Bridge Company in 1913. 9 In 1947, the mainline between Peebles and Jaybird was realigned when a limestone quarry at Plum Run was expanded that required the line to be rerouted. The rerouting required the building of a new trestle above Cedar Fork and the laying of several miles of new track. The quarry became the primary source of ballast for the N&W and added a significant amount of traffic to the Cincinnati Division until the mid-1980s.
Because of the Cincinnati Division’s sharp curves, long grades, and a lack of customers, Norfolk Southern Railway (NS, N&W’s successor 2) railbanked the Cincinnati Division between Peebles and Vera Junction in 2001.
On March 21, 2014, the Cincinnati Eastern Railroad (CCET) filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to lease and operate the Cincinnati Division between Claire and Williamsburg. NS’s T51 made its last run to Peebles to collect all of its cars and equipment on April 24 before the CCET took over operations on April 27. In late 2016, the CCET filed with the STB to lease and operate more of the Cincinnati Division between Williamsburg and Plum Run for the storage of cars, 10 and on November 29, 2021, CCET operated the first revenue unit stone train between Lehigh Hanson Aggregates at Plum Run and its transload facility in Milford. 11
As of 2022, CCET operates revenue trains between Claire and Plum Run, and stores cars from Plum Run east to Jaybird Road. The line from Jaybird Road to Portsmouth Junction is currently owned by NS and out-of-service.
Idlewild to Claire Yard
Sardinia to Winchester
Winchester to Seaman
Seaman to Peebles
McDermott-Scioto River Bridge
Scioto River Bridge and Portsmouth Junction
- Interstate Commerce Commission. 26 Val. Rep. 255: Valuation Docket No. 343, Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Washington: n.p., 1929.
- “Corporate Timeline of the Norfolk & Western Railway.” Norfolk & Western Historical Society. 14 Dec. 2008 Article.
- Jakucyk, Jeffrey. Norfolk & Western to Portsmouth – Norfolk Southern, Cincinnati District, Lake Division (Peavine). “Cincinnati Traction History.” 14 Dec. 2008 Site.
- Hauck, John W. Narrow Gauge in Ohio: The Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern Railway. Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1986.
4a. “Lebanon’s Railroad.” pg. 15-28. 4b. “The Little Giant.” pg. 48-66.
- Hilton, George Woodman. “Cincinnati & Eastern Railway.” American Narrow Gauge Railroads. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. 464-465.
5a. Stewart, Ken. “The Cincinnati & Eastern Railway and The Cincinnati, New Richmond & Ohio River Railroad.” The Fractured Frog 2.10 (May 1985): 11-13. Newsletter of the Queen City Division Railroad Enthusiasts.
- Ohio Railway Report. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Railroads and Telegraphs:Part II: History of the Railroads of Ohio. Comp. J. C. Morris. 1902. Transportation History Sources. 14 Dec. 2008Article.
- Jack, George S., and Edward Boyle Jacobs. “History of the Norfolk & Western Railway Company.” History of Roanoke County. N.p.: Stone, 1912. 155-157.
- Hibben, George C. “Chapter XI: The Samuel Entriken Hibben Line.” A Social History of the Pioneer Hibben Family, 1730 to the early 1900s. Charleston, MA: Acme Bookbinding, 2003. 467-470. 14 Dec. 2008 Article.
- Bridge plaque.
- Wimbish, Robert A. “Re: Docket No. FD 36370.” Received by Cynthia T. Brown, 10 Dec. 2019.
- “News.” Homestead Rail Group.