Railfanning in Ohio

Among the extensive archives within the “Abandoned” collection, my photographs of disused rail lines traversing the Midwest region constitute a substantial portion. The recent “Railfanning in Ohio” update delves into the histories of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, Little Miami Railroad, and the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley.

Among the extensive archives within the “Abandoned” collection, my photographs of disused rail lines traversing the Midwest region constitute a substantial portion. The recent “Railfanning in Ohio” update delves into the histories of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, Little Miami Railroad, and the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley.

The Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad (M&C), a defunct railroad connecting Cincinnati, Ohio, to Parkersburg, West Virginia, is a focal point. Through a series of acquisitions during the 19th century, the M&C amassed a network spanning over 270 miles, stretching from Cincinnati to Marietta and southward to Portsmouth and Hillsboro. Eventually, the line was absorbed into the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern, and portions of its route have since been dismantled.

Chartered on March 8, 1845, as the Belpre and Cincinnati Railroad (B&C), the M&C was initially conceived to establish a connection between Parkersburgh, Virginia, or Harmer, Ohio, in Washington County. The proposed western route would traverse the Hocking Valley via Athens or Chillicothe, ultimately reaching a point on the Little Miami Railroad between Plainville in Hamilton County and the mouth of Obanon Creek in Clermont County, near Cincinnati.

Construction commenced in the spring of 1851, and by 1857, the 173-mile line had been completed, spanning from Harmar to the Little Miami Railroad at Loveland. Through acquisitions, the M&C/B&O SW absorbed several other railroads, including the Hillsboro and Cincinnati, the Ohio and Mississippi, the Union Railroad, the Columbus and Cincinnati Midland, and the Scioto and Hocking Valley.

By 1900, the M&C had formally merged with the B&O Southwest (SW), which later became the Chessie System in 1973 and ultimately CSX in 1986.

In 1985, the last through train operated between Greenfield and Parkersburg. Shortly thereafter, the tracks were removed between Greenfield and Athens. While the tracks through Athens and eastward to Parkersburg remained intact due to anticipated coal train traffic along the Ohio River, the expected increase in traffic never materialized, leading to the dismantling of the line from Athens east in November 1991. Currently, CSX traffic is routed either northward at Willard or southward through Huntington, West Virginia.

Complementing these updates are several photographs of the Little Miami Railroad, spanning from the Pendleton Yards to Loveland.

The Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley, another subject of this update, connected the cities of Morrow, Wilmington, Washington Court House, Circleville, Zanesville, and Trinway in Ohio. Incorporated in 1851, the C&MV was completed from Morrow to Zanesville by 1856. However, it fell into foreclosure merely seven years later and reorganized as the Cincinnati & Zanesville. In 1870, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) gained control over the C&MV and extended the railroad to Trinway. In 1911, the C&MV consolidated into the Cleveland, Akron & Cincinnati Railroad (CA&C), and in 1924, the Zanesville Division was absorbed by the PRR Cincinnati Division, which subsequently merged into the Pittsburgh, Ohio & Detroit Railroad a year later.

By 1968, the line had become known as the Morrow Branch, Zanesville Branch, and Twinway Branch of the Pennsylvania Central Columbus Division.

The section west of Wilmington was dismantled in 1976 when the connecting line, the Little Miami, part of the Pennsylvania’s Cincinnati & Xenia Branch, Cincinnati Division, was abandoned.

Through this comprehensive update, we embark on a journey through the remnants of these once-thriving rail networks, preserving their histories and exploring the enduring traces they have left upon the landscape.


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I was a railroad conductor for 5 years for CSX out of the Queensgate Yard, Cincinnati. This was from 1997 to 2002. I got hurt on the job and had to give it up. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the job. Feel free to contact me through my email.

Great pictures! Found them when looking for an ancestor who was killed when the C.G $ PRR bridge collapsed in 1877. I would like to ask if you know anything about this bridge collapse, please let me know. The mans name was William Ellsberry Young, died at the collapse of the bridge on July 24, 1877. Thanks.

Just a note from an old title searcher, I am currently trying to track this line down and have located a deed filed in 1898 in regards to the foreclosure you mention. Case # 210, United States Circuit Court, Southern District, Eastern Division. The deed states that one John P Green was the higest bidder at the sale and purchased the line for the sum of $500,000.00 and then had it deeded back to the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad Company. The Special Master Commissioner was Benjamin R Cowen. From there the trail goes dark. Do you have any documentation you'd be willing to share on this. The deed I am finding to this RR was filed in Muskingum in 1874 from George Adams. et al as to the part that I am searching, and we seem to have a conflict on the foreclosure dates. I am not finding anything (so far) in the county records, but I have not exhausted all avenues as yet.

Traveling south on route 23, passing over former C&O trackage, also pass over abandoned right of way. Bridge carrys former C&O over the right of way, just curious what railroad was. Had heard it is, or was, former Pennsylvania. Also heard bridge was in place to carry railroad over Scioto River, as railroad headed west to, assuming, Cincinnatti. Can you tell me if mill in Circleville is still served by railroad? Also, just north of Chillicothe is a rather unique passage of the former C&O over the present day NS, former N&W. Am also kind of fond of old railroad bridges. Have one very close to where I live in Northeast Ohio, about 25 miles west of Cleveland. Railroad is abandoned, used to be Lorain & West Virginia, chartered by Wheeling and Lake Erie, to carry coal to steel mill in Lorain, Ohio. Railroad operated form 1906 to 1979, when extensive damage to an area, just north of Wellington, resulted in washout of track, subsequent abandonment. Anyway, bridge is located in Sheffield Village, carrying tracks 90 feet above Black River, while stretching some 760 feet across river valley. Pretty neat to look at, also great photo opportunity. Adjacent route 254 road bridge provides excellant view, especially in winter when no obstructions.

Excellent shots. Thanks for posting them online. You are providing an artful and practical record of a big part of our history that is disappearing.

I will try to get around to sending you some of our shots that I'm sure you'll find interesting. I'm a fan of rail bridges, in particular, active and abandoned.

Are you aware of the duplication of some of your caption text?

Just wanted to send a note of appreciation for your work. ~,~

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