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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Do You Remember The D. L. & C. Railroad?

Dallas Bogan on 26 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 152
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The County of Warren, with its rather flat lands, and need for railroads, was perfectly situated for the advance of the mode that is still very much in existence. One railroad that certainly made its own way was the Dayton, Lebanon & Cincinnati Railroad.
On December 20, 1887, the Toledo, Delphos & Burlington Railroad Company, a narrow gauge system, completed a road from a point on its line between Xenia and Dayton, through Lytle and Dodds to Lebanon, between the last two places using the old grade of the defunct Miami Valley road.
At Lebanon, connection was made with the Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern, (C L & N) and for a while, trains were operated through from Cincinnati to Dayton and Toledo. The company met with financial reverses and the road, in time, was sold to the Lewis estate and changed to a standard gauge. The name was changed to the Dayton, Lebanon & Cincinnati Railway.
The Dayton-Lebanon-Cincinnati Railroad (D L & C) was called the "rapid transit" (sometimes called "The Damn Long Comin") of its day. This railway company was organized January 29, 1889. On June 1, 1892, it was leased from the Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern, (C L & N) which was the successor of the Cincinnati Northern. The line ran from Dodds to the corporation line at Lebanon, a little more than six miles of road. This property was taken upon a lease of 99 years, renewable forever. The lease provided that the C L & N Company might have the joint use of the lease track upon the payment of a part of the maintenance. A contract was also entered into by which the D L & C had a right to entrance into Lebanon. At the time of the organization of the D L & C, Henry Lewis transferred to that company the 17 miles of road owned by him.
An article found in the Warren County Historical Society, written by Mr. Walter Kenrick, describes the method of construction used in the building of the D L & C Railroad. It is as such:
"A contract was entered with Frederick B. Douglas, a railroad contractor, to build said road. This road was to be a narrow gauge and was constructed the following year.
"In building the grade Mr. Douglas used a machine, which was called a grader. This machine was constructed mainly of wood; was a framework 8 ft. wide and at least 20 feet long. In the center was a huge plow that could be raised or lowered by chains.
"This plow delivered the dirt on an endless belt, which deposited the dirt on the bank or on the fill, as the case might be. It was powered by mules or horses, 8 to 10 in front pulling and 4 to 6 in the rear pushing by means of a long tongued cart attached to the rear.
"As the machine was rather cumbersome to turn, they would drive as far as possible on the right-of-way before turning; first on the fill, and then thru the cuts.
"In laying the track first the ties would be carried by a workman on their shoulders to the grade; these would be placed about 8 ft. apart and then the rails spiked down. Over this the men would push small cars loaded with ties and afterward rails.
"Then the work train would be run forward after more ties had been placed under the rails. In this way the work moved forward until the trestle was completed."
The D L & C Railroad was a narrow gauge railroad whose rails had a width of three feet. (Standard gauge of rails is four feet eight and one-half inches.) Among the other narrow gauge railroads were The Cincinnati Northern Railway Company and The Toledo, Delphos & Burlington Railroad (which owned a narrow gauge road from Delphos to Dayton and one from Dayton to Ironton).
The connecting link between the Lebanon road and the Toledo road, a distance of 17 miles, was made by the T D & B Railroad, which constructed a road from the Lebanon junction on the D & I division to the northern end of the Lebanon road. The completed road from Dayton to Lebanon was then in operation, and for a time daily trains were run from Toledo through Dayton, and Lebanon to Cincinnati.
Afterward, the C H & D (Cincinnati-Hamilton & Dayton) acquired the Dayton and Ironton division and the 17 miles of connecting link were sold by the receivers of the T D & B Company to Mr. Fairbanks, of Indianapolis, afterwards vice- president. The property was not used for three or four years, when Henry Lewis purchased it, of Cincinnati, who widened the track to standard gauge. With this move the running of trains to Lebanon was started.
The D L & C started its northward journey from Cincinnati with the main stops at Norwood, Lebanon, Dodds, Centerville and on to Dayton. Stops in between included Kitchner, Venable (Lower Springboro Road), Edgewood (S.R. 73), and Lytle. Many farmers and individuals appeared along the line to create unscheduled stops. They simply motioned for the train to stop and they merely "hitched a ride."
This was the official announcement given by Vice-President Frank Brandon in The Western Star Thursday morning [date unclear]. He said:
"The construction work is just about complete, and were it not for the fearfully cold weather trains would now be running over the new connection.
"The line has been built in a most substantial manner and will carry the heaviest traffic. Contracts for local stations at the various street crossings in the city of Dayton will be let early in the coming week, so that passenger traffic can be established immediately upon the construction trains being removed from the work, and the line is now surfaced so that traffic can be handled with speed and safety."
Continuing and in a retrospective mode Mr. Brandon said:
"The Dayton, Lebanon & Cincinnati Railroad was organized in the year 1889 and operated a line when completed during the following year, from Lebanon Junction to Lebanon, a distance of 23.1 miles.
"The road was never completed or operated in anything like a satisfactory manner until the year 1902, after the property had been taken over by Mr. Appleyard.
"During the years 1902-3, a large amount of money was spent on the main line, and in acquiring the right of way and additional terminal properties in Dayton, and under the Appleyard management, the cut-off line was built from Hempstead to the Dayton State Hospital."
Nothing further was accomplished in completing the property until after the receivership and reorganization of the property in June of 1907, when the Dayton, Lebanon & Cincinnati Railroad and Terminal Company was organized and took over the property. This corporation, a reorganization of the bondholders of the old company, operated the same until the stock of the corporation was taken over by the present holders early in the year 1908. However, through the cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce of Dayton, the National Cash Register and many of the enterprising citizens of Dayton, including the city press, the franchise to cross the streets of that city was obtained.
In April 1909, actual construction of the line into Dayton was begun. Work was very tedious and slow in the expansion of the railroad in this region. The building of the bridges and other specific work delayed the completion for some time. However, the drudgery paid off. The line was completed to the National Cash Register in September 1909.
(The officers of the D L & C were M.I. Sternberger, President; Frank Brandon, Secretary and Treasurer; H.S. Willard, Secretary; Howard W. Ivins, Asst. Secretary; H.C Mordue, General Freight and Passenger Agent; and E. Kahoe, Superintendent.)
The D L & C made its first trip over the line from Lebanon to Dayton on Thursday, March 10, 1910. The train left Union Station at Lebanon promptly at 7:00 o'clock a.m. The crew of this first run was composed of: Engineer, Will S. Thompson; Conductor, Herbert Kennedy; Fireman, Ray Schwartz; Brakeman, Frank Hill; and Master Mechanic, Byron Wright. The official body was made up of Vice-President Frank Brandon; Superintendent, E. Kahoe; General Passenger Agent, H.C. Mordue; and Assistant Secretary Howard W. Ivins.
The first ticket was purchased by Tom Spencer, president of the Oregonia Bridge Company, the ticket being number "0." He had choice of any of the seats of the three coaches, however, he picked a seat in the rear of the last coach. Not too many people showed up for the exiting of the first excursion. The first stop was made at the Main Street station and, the first stop to discharge people was made at Deland. However, many farmers and their families lined their doorways to cheer the new rail line. Large crowds had gathered at Lytle and Centerville to greet the train.
The narrow gauge was to be up-dated by the as semblance of a wider gauge. This would standardize the railroad system to be more adaptable to other railroads in the area. Converting the narrow gauge track to a standard gauge was an achievement undertaken by many. On a Sunday morning in 1889, farmers, railroaders, stockholders and businessmen by the hundreds, responded to a general all out call to help widen the railroad. All along this line they simply "heaved-to" and moved the rails apart.
The 1913 flood did not stop the D L & C. It was the only train with through traffic from Cincinnati to Dayton.
The D L & C ran passenger trains as late as 1930. The freight carriers were discontinued in the depression years, about 1936. The automobile was taking over. The diminishing of the passenger numbers and the daily trips took its toll on this excellent line.

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