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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Cincinnati, Wilmington, And Zanesville Railroad

Dallas Bogan on 26 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 166
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

As we all know the Little Miami Railroad ran through the historic town of Morrow. But did you know that another line also ran through the town in the same time period? This line was named the Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad. Local residents more commonly knew it as the "Sheepskin Line". It fell by the wayside, as did many other lines in the early days of railroading. Only so much traffic in the middle of the 19th century was available because of the lack of dollars in which to invest in new railroads.
The late Marion Snyder wrote in his article on this subject that "the first plans called for the line to come as directly west from Clarksville as possible and connect with the Little Miami at Hammel, a small way-station a couple miles north of Morrow." He also wrote that William H. Clement, President of the Little Miami Railroad, might have possibly used his influence to bring the C. W. & Z. R. R. directly into Morrow and build the village up as a railroad town and shipping area.
According to the 1903 Atlas map of Salem Township, six bridges were built over Todd's Fork in order to bring the line into Morrow. However, if the line had proceeded to Hammel, only one bridge would have been built.
The Hon. R.B. Harlan, Representative from Clinton County in the Lower House of the Legislature, introduced a bill asking for a new railroad line so-named the Cincinnati, Wilmington and Zanesville Railroad. The charter was granted February 4, 1851. (The route of the line ran from Morrow in Warren County through the counties of Clinton, Fayette, Pickaway, Fairfield, Perry and a portion of Muskingum to Zanesville.)
The name of Wilmington was added to the name in honor of the County in which the bill was introduced. The 1882 Clinton County history expressed that the line would be a great through trunk line. But the mistake, according to the history, was made in connecting it to the Little Miami Railroad at Morrow, and using its facilities thence to Cincinnati.
Surveys and estimates were completed from Morrow to Lancaster, a distance of 90 miles, in November 1850. The building contract was awarded to A. DeGraff, with Clinton County subscribing $200,000 for its construction. Actual work was commenced in December 1851. Actual track laying began at Morrow in the latter part of March 1853. A certain amount of delay was at first sustained due to bridge building and the terrain.
In August 1853, the road was completed to Wilmington. On the 11th of that month a grand celebration was held in honor of this momentous occasion. From 10,000 to 15,000 folks were present, including about 2,000 who arrived on the 11:15 a.m. train of 20 cars. Five oxen and a quantity of sheep were barbecued; enough food was left over to feed a regiment. The table arrangements were assembled in the form of a square 1,200 feet long. Many adjoining counties were represented; a fine brass band was present from Cincinnati. Men of prominence made speeches commemorating the event. The main event train departed at 3:30 p.m. and by six o'clock all was again quiet in the village.
On August 15, 1853, trains began running regularly between Cincinnati and Wilmington, one a day each way, the fare being set at $1.60 per trip.
Mr. Linton, a Representative of the Ohio Legislature from Fayette County, requested that the town of Washington Court House be included in the charter, but "this the gentleman from Wilmington refused to do."
Judge Daniel McLain was employed as representative of the people of Washington C.H., to go to Columbus and express their interest. He eventually succeeded in securing the preferred change. Judge McLain was elected one of the directors of the new railroad. He took a number of trips to the East, and by November 1852, over two thousand tons of Swedish made iron rail had reached New Orleans headed for Cincinnati.
With the terminus of the road being at Morrow, instead of Cincinnati, the earnings of the road were insufficient to meet the expense.
The road to Washington C.H. was completed November 24, 1853, and the trains started their run on that day. Regular trains began running through to Zanesville in 1856, the total accumulative mileage from Morrow being 132.
Opening of this railway unveiled communications between Cincinnati and all eastern seaboards, by connecting with the original Central Ohio Railroad.
Fairfield County commissioners subscribed $250,000 for the payment of which bonds were issued bearing seven percent. These bonds were sold throughout all the counties in which the line operated. The allotted funds were used for bridges, tunnels, ties and the essential part of the iron.
The original charter of the General Assembly of 1850 approved authorization of taking a certain amount of stock in the newly formed railroad, provided a majority of the people favored the measure and would so vote at a specified general election. All approved of this measure except Perry County. Two principal routes were favored in Perry County, New Lexington or Rush Creek Valley, and the Somerset Route. Each raised about $100,000 with stipulations that the road be made on a specified line. It was not until September 1852, that a decision was made at Zanesville to locate on the New Lexington or Rush Creek Valley route.
In the summer of 1854 the citizens of Perry County and New Lexington witnessed the first train from the West. For several months the train stopped at this place for the transfer of passengers and mail from railroad car to stages bound for Zanesville; the reason for this maneuver was because of the construction of a tunnel, located three miles east of New Lexington.
The railway began to have financial difficulties almost from the beginning. The company was unable to comply with the conditions of the mortgage, having taken out first, second and third mortgage bonds. The monies were expended in the construction and equipment of the road. On February 22, 1857, a court decision was made through a Receiver in the case, to exercise authority to take possession of the road and property, and to "operate the road for the interest of all parties concerned."
The road was operated under this decree until a plan of reorganization was perfected. The court ordered on June 10, 1863, that the mortgaged property be sold, with such sale to go toward all debts and liabilities. The sale was confirmed October 17, 1863, the buyer being Charles Moran of New York. Stipulations were made that the creditors and stockholders should be made "recognizable as a body corporate," and the railroad should be run under the charter.
A name change was made to the railway on March 10, 1864, under the new title of the Cincinnati & Zanesville Railroad Company. It was still to be operated under the original franchises of the Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad. Moran deeded property to the operation held by him in trust. Erasmus Gest was selected as the new President and Superintendent. The newly organized company now saw daylight at the end of the tunnel. In a period of 26 months a balance of $80,000 was placed to the credit of the road and invested in rolling stock and improvements. In due time a failure in the payment of its obligation caused its downfall. On December 1, 1869, the road with all its franchises, real estate, machine shops, depot buildings, and rolling stock was sold at auction at the door of the Cincinnati Court House, the purchaser being Thomas L. Jewett, President of the Pennsylvania Central Company. The purchase price was $1,004,000. (One source says "$1,400,000.")
Jewett operated the road under his complete control until September 1, 1870, when the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley Railway Company came into possession of it. On May 1, 1873, the road was leased by the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad Company under lease for 99 years.
The old railway has since gone into oblivion. Some of the names mentioned by Marion Snyder as working for the road were George Shawhan, Vess Zentmeyer, Clyde Miranda, Harry Drake, Byron Hartsock and Charles Durig.

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