Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Little Miami Railroad ~ One of Ohio's Earliest Railroads

Looking east across the railroad tracks to Waynesville
on the west side of the Little Miami River.

In the 1830s and 1840s, the Ohio~Erie Canal, which ran from Cleveland to Portsmouth, and its parallel sister canal on the western side of the state, the Miami~Erie Canal, which ran from Toledo to Cincinnati, were finished. Fast on the heals of the canal boom came another faster and more efficient form of transportation, the railroads. Just as the two canal systems connected the Ohio River with Lake Erie and then points further east via the Erie Canal, Ohioans began to think about connecting the river and the lake via railroad lines passing between and parallel with these two canals. Discussion ensued in 1832, the same year that the Ohio-Erie Canal was completed. On March 11, 1836 the Ohio Legislature chartered:
  • Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad Co., which would run from Sandusky City to Springfield, and,
  • Little Miami Railroad Co., which would run from Springfield to Cincinnati

thus connecting the Ohio River with Lake Erie when the two lines were completed. Eventually the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway would also be built which paralleled the Great Miami River which, like the Little Miami River, empties into the Ohio River.

The first meeting of the Little Miami Railroad Co. was in the Linton's Hotel (owned by S. M Linton from 1835-1837, also known as the Miami House) in Waynesville on May 13, 1836. The hotel was located on the northeast corner of Main and North Streets. The Little Miami Railroad had a rocky start. Many people did not believe in the project and the state withdrew promised assistance. However, the board of trustees persevered and constuction began in 1837. The rails were wood, at first poplar with strap iron laid on top, but, then it was found that white oak was a better wood for the job. The following is a timeline of the construction of the Little Miami Railroad:

  • 1837 ~ Jeremiah Morrow is elected the first president of the company.
  • 1840 ~ The first section of the railroad from Columbia (outside of Cincinnati) to Kugler's Mills is completed.
  • 1841 ~ Iron rails are ordered from England to be nailed on top of the wooden rails. The first locomotive and passenger car are purchased. Grading is completed to Morrow's Mills and rails laid to Kugler's Mills.
  • December 14, 1841 ~ The first train runs from Fulton to Milford and back.
  • 1842 ~ A bridge is built across the Little Miami River at Miamiville.
  • 1843 ~ Trains run to Foster's Crossing.
  • 1844 ~ The tracks are completed to Morrow.
  • August 1845 ~ The tracks are completed to Xenia.
  • August 1846 ~ The tracks are completed to Springfield
  • 1847 ~ Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad and the Little Miami River Railroad united.
  • 1850 ~ By this date there are 4 passenger trains, 3 freight trains and one local passenger train running each way. By 1850, all the old wooden-strap iron rails have been replace by iron T-rails.
  • 1852 ~ The Hillsboro and Cincinnati Railroad connects with the Little Miami Railroad at Loveland.
  • 1853 ~ The Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad connects with the Little Miami Railroad at Morrow.
  • Early 1860s ~ A busy time for the Little Miami Railroad during the Civil War.
  • February 23, 1870 ~ The Little Miami Railroad is leased to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad. Become part of their branch line from Columbus to Cincinnati. This lease was eventually acquired by Penn Central.
  • 1970 ~ Penn Central Transportation Co. went into bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize.
  • 1930s ~ This time was the peak of the old Little Miami Railroad line. In an 8 hour day 24 trains ran. Traffic was primarily freight but there was a train named the "accommodation" which ran in the early morning and late afternoon between Cincinnati and New York City.
  • After 1945 ~ Goes into a decline. Freight only travels on the Little Miami Rail line.
  • 1973 ~ The Regional Rail Reorgainization Act was passed thus creating ConRail Corp. This was done to try to support local railways which were declining quickly. Unfortunately, the 52.2 miles from Clare Yards in Mariemont to Spring Valley were not included.
  • July 29, 1976 ~ Penn Central officially abandons the Little Miami Railroad line. The abandon line's right of way is now hike and hiking way along the Little Miami River which has been declared a Scenic River.

For more about the river and bike way, see:,,, and

For more information about the railroad see:

Below is a map showing the railroad lines from Cincinnati up through the Miami Valley and further north:

Also see the following books:

"The Little Miami Railroad" by Robert L. Black (Cincinnati: Published by Author). The map above is found in this book.

"The Early History of the Cincinnati Division fo the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway", a dissertation by Richard A. Thomas.


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