Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad

Railroad / Ohio

The Cincinnati & Eastern Railway (C&E) is an active and out-of-service a railroad from Idlewild in Norwood to Portsmouth, Ohio operated today by Norfolk Southern and the Cincinnati East Terminal Railway. 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 C&E was chartered as the Cincinnati, Batavia & Williamsburg Railway (CB&W) on January 11, 1876, 5 and was proposed to extend from Cincinnati east to Williamsburg, although the eastern terminus was changed to Portsmouth by May. 4a 5 It was projected that the line would be a coal hauling route from Jackson County. 4a

Construction began almost immediately on the C&E and by October 18, 1876, the line was open from Batavia Junction to Batavia, a distance of 15 miles. 5 By August 4, 1877, the C&E had reached Winchester, a distance of 48 miles. The C&E opened the first portion of a branch to New Richmond from Richmond Junction to Tobasco, a distance of five miles, on March 1, 1878. 5 At its western terminus was a connection to the Cincinnati, Georgetown & Portsmouth Railway (CG&P).

A 5½ mile western extension of the C&E to the Miami Valley Railroad was completed in June. 4b The Miami Valley had proposed a narrow-gauge connection to Cincinnati via a tunnel through the Deer Creek valley. 5 When the Deer Creek tunnel project ran into financial difficulties, the C&E found that its connection to Cincinnati was useless which forced the railroad to enter into receivership on January 27, 1879. Nonetheless, the NEw Richmond branch was extended to Blairville by early 1880 and to New Richmond on March 1, a distance of 14 miles. 5

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 connect the railroad to Portsmouth and Gallipolis on November 21, 1880. 5

The C&E exited receivership on March 1, 1881, 5 and in February 1882, the company signed a trackage agreement with the Cincinnati Northern to utilize its 3.8 miles of line from Idlewild to Court Street via the Deer Creek valley and two tunnels, finally providing the C&E with a direct connection to its Court Street depot in downtown Cincinnati. 4b The C&E began operations from Court Street on April 4, 1882, 5 with trains departing to Irvington, Winchester, and New Richmond daily. By the end of the year, the C&E’s mainline had been extended to Peebles and to Rarden by May 1883.

The C&E entered receivership again on September 14. 5 Nevertheless, the line was completed to Vera Junction just north of Portsmouth in August 1884, which included a 1,000-foot truss bridge over the Scioto River. 2 5

Gauge Conversion

The C&E began preparations for the conversion of its route to standard gauge shortly after the completion of the railroad to Portsmouth. 5 But by February 1885, the C&E’s finances had not improved and another receiver was appointed for the railroad. The C&E east of Winchester was converted to standard gauge by May but no money had been appropriated for standard gauge cars. 5 A court authorized receiver approved the expenditure of $180,000 to convert the line west of Winchester to standard gauge, but the collapse of the 800-foot Nineveh trestle on the New Richmond branch on August 8 scuttled those plans. 5 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.

By early 1886, the C&E was once again narrow gauge. 5 The railroad was sold to a representative of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton (CH&D) on September 1, however, it defaulted on payments and the railroad was resold on January 5, 1887, to H.B. Morehead who formed the Ohio & Northwestern Railroad (O&NW). 5

Separately, the New Richmond branch was sold on September 1, 1866, to William P. DeVou, who reorganized it as the Cincinnati, New Richmond & Ohio River Railroad (CNR&OR). 5 DeVou planned to extend the CNR&OR east to Aberdeen, but by July 1889, the line had ceased operations.

Columbus & Maysville

The Columbus & Maysville (C&M) was incorporated on April 27, 1877, as a railroad between Columbus and Maysville via Washington Court House, Hillsboro, Sardinia, Georgetown, Ripley, and Aberdeen. 5 6 Construction began on the 19 mile Hillsboro to Sardinia segment in 1878, and about 12 miles were completed from Sardinia north by the end of the year, and another 5½ miles were finished by 1879 to the junction of the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad, about 1½ miles west of Hillsboro. 5

The first official run of the C&M was held on May 8, 1879, 8 and the line was subsequently 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 It was subsequently leased to the C&M.

The C&M resolved to convert the railroad to standard gauge and to extend the line to Aberdeen in May 1880, 5 but no work was completed over financial concerns. 6 The C&M was sold in 1885 to other interests, became insolvent, and on February 12, 1887, was sold to the O&NW. 5 6

Ohio & Northwestern

The O&NW moved immediately to standard gauge the main line from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, which was completed by November 1887. 5 The O&NW then shifted its western terminus to the Little Miami Railroad depot east of downtown Cincinnati. Like its predecessors, the O&NW became insolvent and went into receivership on June 15, 1888.

In February 1889, under receivership, the railroad completed five miles of the long-projected Gallipolis extension from Portsmouth to Sciotoville. 5 The O&NW was sold on March 13, 1890, reorganizing 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, which assumed the lease and began to operate over it as a short line. 6 In December 1900, the shareholders of the CP&V voted to purchase the C&M. 5

The Norfolk & Western (N&W) merged with the CP&V in October 1901, 1 5 with the Cincinnati to Portsmouth segment becoming the N&W Cincinnati Division (Peavine). The Hillsboro branch was acquired by the N&W on July 1, 1902, 6 becoming N&W Hillsboro branch. 5

Later Improvements and Closure

The Scioto River crossing at Vera Junction was replaced with a multi-span truss bridge constructed by the American Bridge Company in 1913. 9 In 1941, a girder span over Dry Run was replaced by the Virginia Bridge Company.

The mainline east of Peebles to Jaybird was realigned in 1947 when a quarry opened along Plum Run that required the line to be rerouted to the north and east. It included a new trestle above Cedar Fork and several miles of new track. 9 The quarry was the source of ballast for the N&W.

In 1982, the N&W consolidated with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern (NS). 2

NS stopped sourcing its ballast from the quarry at Plum Run in the mid-1980s, ending a significant source of traffic for the Peavine. Because of the sharp curves, steep grades, and a lack of customers, the NS railbanked the Peavine between Peebles and Vera Junction at Portsmouth in 2001.

On March 21, 2014, CCET filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to lease and operate the Peavine between Clare (Mariemont) and Williamsburg. NS’s T51 made its last run to Peebles to collect all of its cars and equipment on April 24 before CCET took over operations on April 27. In late 2016, CCET filed with the STB to lease and operate more of the Peavine between Williamsburg and Jaybird Branch east of Peebles, using the line for the storage of cars.


Idlewild to Claire Yard

Sardinia to Winchester

Winchester to Seaman

Seaman to Peebles

Peebles to Portsmouth



  1. Interstate Commerce Commission. 26 Val. Rep. 255: Valuation Docket No. 343, Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Washington: n.p., 1929.
  2. “Corporate Timeline of the Norfolk & Western Railway.” Norfolk & Western Historical Society. 14 Dec. 2008 Article.
  3. Jakucyk, Jeffrey. Norfolk & Western to Portsmouth – Norfolk Southern, Cincinnati District, Lake Division (Peavine). “Cincinnati Traction History.” 14 Dec. 2008 Site.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Jack, George S., and Edward Boyle Jacobs. “History of the Norfolk & Western Railway Company.” History of Roanoke County. N.p.: Stone, 1912. 155-157.
  8. 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.
  9. Bridge plaque.