Hocking Valley Railway

The Hocking Valley Railway is a partly abandoned coal hauling railroad in Ohio, with a mainline that stretched from Toledo to Pomeroy via Columbus and Athens.


Columbus & Hocking Valley Railway

In 1834, U.S. Congressman John Chaney (Ohio) proposed legislation for constructing a railroad from Lancaster to the Ohio River. 4 The proposal was tabled and resurrected as a line from Athens County to Columbus. On July 11, 1853, a meeting sought to incorporate the Hocking Valley Railroad Company to construct a line between Athens County and Columbus with a stock of $2 million. Surveys along the proposed route were conducted, and subscriptions to the stock were sold, but the line was never constructed.

On April 14, 1864, the Mineral Rail Road Company was incorporated to build a railroad between Columbus and Athens with a capital stock of $1.5 million. 4 Some right-of-way was secured, although construction never started. Milbury Greene, a salt works operator in Salina, purchased the railroad in 1867 and pushed for the railroad’s completion by traveling to Columbus to plead for the line’s completion. He convinced wealthier citizens in Columbus to finance the project, requiring the line to be named the Columbus & Hocking Valley Railroad (C&HV). Surveying work along the proposed C&HV was completed by May.

An $865,000 construction contract was signed on May 22, 1867. 4 The first segment of the C&HV opened between Columbus and Canal Winchester on July 16, 1868, followed by the Canal Winchester to Lancaster section on January 13, 1869, the Lancaster to Nelsonville segment on August 17, and the Nelsonville to Athens portion on July 25, 1870. The Straitsville Branch from Logan to New Straitsville opened on January 2, 1871.

Columbus & Toledo Railway

The Columbus & Toledo Railway (C&T) was incorporated in 1872 to construct a line between Columbus and Toledo to primarily haul coal from the Hocking Valley region to export terminals along the Great Lakes. 4 7 The contract to construct the C&T was awarded to C&HV President Benjamin Smith and nine others under the Miller, Smiths & Company on April 16, 1875, with the first spike driven in Delaware on April 29, 1876. 7 The Columbus to Marion section opened on November 1, 1866, and the remainder to Toledo opened on January 10, 1877.

Gallipolis, McArthur & Columbus Railroad

The Gallipolis, Jackson & Chillicothe Railroad was incorporated on March 22, 1850, to construct a railroad between the Ohio River at Gallipolis and Chillicothe via Jackson. 5 It was never constructed, but the proposal was partially revised on March 3, 1870, as the Gallipolis, McArthur & Columbus Railroad (GM&C) to build a line between the Ohio River at Pomeroy and Logan via McArthur, Vinton, and Gallipolis. 4 Construction of the GM&C began in 1872 and progressed through August 1874. 5

The GM&C was sold to the Columbus & Gallipolis Railway in November 1877 and the Ohio & West Virginia Railway (O&WV) in August 1878. 4 The railroad was completed between Gallipolis and Logan in October 1880 and between Gallipolis and Pomeroy in January 1881.

The O&WV became a part of the Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo Railroad’s Hocking Valley River Division in 1895. 5

Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo

As the O&WV and the CH&V had no connection to export terminals in Toledo without utilizing the C&T, the O&WV, CH&V, and the C&T merged to become the Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo Railway (CHV&T) in July 1881. 4


The 17½-mile Wellston & Jackson Belt Railway, wholly owned by the CHV&T, opened between McArthur Junction near Dundas to Wellston and Jackson in February 1896. 4 It connected the CHV&T to the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad and served numerous coal mines along its route. The Wellston & Jackson Belt went into receivership in 1897 and reorganized in 1899 as the Hocking Valley Railway.

The Monday Creek Branch was constructed between Nelsonville and Bessemer, Carbon Hill, Sand Ruck, and Oreville, interchanging with the CHV&T Straitsville Branch. 4 The Snow Fork Branch connected Bessemer and Murray City.

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad

The CHV&T became part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O) in 1910, allowing the C&O to transport coal mined in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia to the export terminals along the Great Lakes. 2 4 At the time of the CHV&T consolidation into the C&O, the CHV&T had control of the Toledo & Ohio Central and the Kanawha & Michigan; this gave the C&O control of two major coal hauling routes. The C&O between Columbus and Athens, including the Straightsville, Monday Creek, and Snow Fork branches, became a part of the Hocking Valley River Division. 4 The Logan to Athensville portion became the Armitage Subdivision; the Logan to Pomeroy section became the Pomeroy Subdivision; and the Columbus to Toledo segment became the Columbus Subdivision.

To keep up with coal shipments from the Hocking Valley coal seams, the railroad constructed new docks on Lake Erie in East Toledo in 1914, which included the laying of a 3½-mile branch from Walbridge. 4 But by the 1920s, the once generous coal seams in southeast Ohio were running thin, and traffic along with the Hocking Valley River Division, the Pomeroy Subdivision, and the Columbus Subdivision were starting to decrease. Traffic spiked in 1955 when the coal-fired Kyger Creek Power Plant was constructed in Cheshire and again in 1974 when the Gavin Power Plant was completed next to Kyger Creek, but both relied on coal mined in central Ohio or in West Virginia.

The C&O sought to abandon the Pomeroy Subdivision in 1975, but it remained intact because of a few remaining customers. 6 A flood along the Ohio River in February 1979 damaged tracks in Middleport and Pomeroy, which gave the C&O reason to discontinue service between Hobson and the end-of-the-line in Pomeroy. Following the flood, the Pomeroy Subdivision operated on an “as-needed” basis to service the Kyger Creek and Gavin power plants.

In 1982, American Electric Power (AEP) began running coal trains from a Southern Ohio Coal Company loadout in Minerton to the Gavin Power Plant, which required the installation of heavy, welded rail from Minerton to Kanauga. 4 With a lack of customers, the track between Minerton and Dundas was idled but maintained as AEP had considered constructing a coal washer at Dundas for Gavin.

Chessie, the C&O’s successor, abandoned the Hocking Valley River Division from Glen Ebon, north of Athens, to Nelsonville in 1985 4 and the Pomeroy Subdivision between Dundas and Logan in 1986. 6 The Southern Ohio Company loadout at Minerton was closed in 1992 after two underground mines merged, with the combined entity shipping coal to the Gavin Power Plant via a conveyor belt. In 1993, Chessie dismantled all but seven miles of the Pomeroy Subdivision from Dundas to Kanauga.

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway was formed in 1972 to operate excursion passenger trains along the former Monday Creek branch until it was abandoned. 3 4 It then operated over the former Armitage Subdivision between Nelsonville and Glen Ebon, north of Athens, until 1985, when it began operating between Nelsonville and Logan. 4 The railroad then acquired the Nelsonville to Logan segment from the C&O to prevent the line from being abandoned. 2


Remnants of the HV continue to operate today between Columbus and Toledo as CSX’s Columbus Subdivision. The track between Columbus and Logan operates as part of the Indiana & Ohio Railroad and from Logan and Nelsonville as the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. The segment from Nelsonville south to Athens was later converted into the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, a rail-to-trail. 4

While most of the Pomeroy Subdivision was abandoned by 1993, CSX retained a seven-mile segment from Kanauga to Hobson Junction near Middleport. 4 It is used by Norfolk Southern via trackage rights. The 11-mile Gallia County Hike and Bike Trail was developed over two portions of the old Pomeroy Subdivision between Gallipolis and Bidwell. Future plans include completing the gap between the two existing sections and extending the trail north from Bidwell for a total of 28 miles.

Wellston & Jackson Belt Railway



  1. Hoeflich, Charlene. “Museum displays models of Pomeroy landmarks.” Daily Sentinel (Pomeroy) 6 Jan. 2006. 21 Nov. 2008: A1.
  2. “About the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.” Hocking Valley Scenic Railway 2008. 21 Nov. 2008 Article.
  3. “Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.” Hocking Valley Scenic Railway 2008. 21 Nov. 2008 Article.
  4. Miller, Edward and Chris Burchett. “History of the Hocking Valley Railway Co.” The Hocking Valley Railway 27 Oct. 2008. 21 Nov. 2008 Article.
  5. “Gallia Railroads Collection.” Ohio University 29 July 2008. 26 Nov. 2008 Collection.
  6. Dtiman421. “Operations on the Pomeroy (Ohio) Sub. 1960s onward.” Railroad.net. N.p., 28 Oct. 2004.Web. 9 Nov. 2011. Posting.
  7. Campbell, Alex. “Columbus & Toledo Railroad.” Columbus Railroads.


Add Yours →

At age 9, my family moved to Wellston, Ohio. Our first home was on E “C” St. at the deep cut where the B&O & C&O climbed a 1 percent grade into Wellston from the north on parallel tracks. The C&O was the old Wellston-Jackson Belt (Hocking Valley) and was only 25-30 yards from my bedroom window. This also explains the 2 C&O style cabooses, one lettered C&O, one Hocking Valley, and 3 cars lettered HV on my small GO layout.


In response to Lou's comment, I have some info from Edward Miller's book "The Hocking Valley Railway," found on page 118, and titled "Kimberly Wreck."

"Train No. 30 did not reach Athens on the morning of February 15, 1910. Just after 10:00 AM, it crashed into the pay train at Kimberly. The northbound pay train should have entered the siding from the south end, but overran the switch. It was in the process of backing into the siding from the north end when the accident occurred.

Engineer Ben Persig, of Columbus, was killed and Robert Kemper, of Logan, the mail clerk, had both legs broken. The injured employees were engineer Pete O'Connor, fireman Frank Ratcliff, conductor Bert Barnes, fireman Harry Coen, and Ote Wilson."

Hopefully you will come back and read this soon, Lou, though I see your comment was posted several months ago. And if/when you do, hopefully this will help in your quest for information about your ancestors.


Mike Mueller

My great uncle Ben Persig was the engineer on the Hocking Valley pay train that collided with a passenger train on feb.15 1910. He was the only one killed. Do you have any information on that accident, how it happened? I figured a switch was't pulled but I can't find any articles about it. Any books in print with pictures?Any help at all would certainly be appreciated. I'm doing my family geneology.


Lou Brummitt

I have the accident report for this accident your grandfather was in. My own grandfather was in it as well, got his eye burnt out and severe injury to intestines. If you go to Old Family Photos you might find a picture of the porters I put there under his name or mine. Also put whole accident report on ancestry.com.

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