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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

First Turnpikes Through Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 7 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The first law governing turnpikes was in 1817. This law said that the right of way shall be 66 feet. It should be cleared of brush and logs to a distance of 33 feet. At least 18 feet is to be made an "artificial road" composed of stone, gravel, wood or other material well compacted together in such manner as to secure a "firm, even and substantial road, rising in the middle with a gradual arch, and in no case shall the ascent in any such turnpike road be greater than five degrees."
Toll-gates were to be located every ten miles, but no gates to be erected within two miles of the centers of the terminal towns. Toll rates were varied, depending on the companies who built these particular turnpikes. Some charged only $.12 1/2 for two-horse wagon, while other companies charged as much as $.25. Rates scaled as low as $.01 per head of cattle and $.10 for a score of hogs or sheep. Men on foot paid no toll. Also exempt from toll were those who traveled to church, to funerals, elections, or militia musters. A fine of $5 was levied upon those persons who tried to evade payment at the toll-gates by passing them.
Each company was responsible for the maintenance of its roads. A fine was imposed if the company was found in neglect, such as the condition of the road.
A complete account of the monetary expenditure was required. Also an account of the receipts from the toll gates was mandatory.
The county or state might at any time purchase a turnpike by paying a sum which, together with the tolls received, would equal the original cost and expenses plus 12 percent per year. It was under this and similar arrangements that the roads ultimately became public property. It has been noted that in 1826, only one turnpike in Ohio had been completed. This was a turnpike from Warren, in Trumbull County, to Lake Erie, a distance of 48 miles.
"The deplorable condition of the roads leading to Cincinnati, is both a matter of regret and surprise. It is said, and we believe with great truth, that in no portion of the State of Ohio, are the roads so bad, as in this immediate vicinity: And yet there are none traveled so much,--none which can be rendered good at so little expense; & certainly none, which if turnpiked by companies, would yield so large a dividend upon the capital employed. The subject is one of deep interest not only to the inhabitants of our city, but also those of the surrounding country, as affecting the comfort, convenience and property of both. The causes which prevented the success of the efforts made some years since to improve these avenues of communication to and from the city, can no longer exist. The great increase in the amount of the circulating medium in this section of country, arising from the influx of capitalists, and the expenditures upon the Miami Canal, is such, that no difficulty exists, it is believed, in regard to the raising of funds for this important object. It is in- deed a matter of astonishment, that our enterprising capitalists have not, ere this, embarked in the construction of turnpike roads.
"From Cincinnati to Sharon, over what is termed the `hill road,' the distance is about 14 miles. Thus far, the nearest route to Dayton and Lebanon is the same. A turnpike between these points, which, from the nature of the ground and the materials necessary in its construction, can be readily made, would, beyond all question, afford as good, if not better dividends, than any permanent investment that could be made in the Miami Country. In support of this position is only necessary to state, that two hundred waggons have passed through the village of Reading, in one day.
"It is not our intention to enter into any details upon this subject. We seek only to call public attention to it, as one of vital importance, as it regards both the interest and convenience of town and country. We hope to see an act of incorporation for such an object, obtained at the ensuing session of our legislature. That the stock would be immediately taken, is about as certain, as that it would prove profitable to its holder."

The Cincinnati, Lebanon and Springfield Turnpike (U.S. 42) was subscribed for and passed in 1828 and extended to 1830. Meetings were held at Lebanon by the citizens of four counties. The fifteen miles from Cincinnati to Sharonville, which was completed in 1833, were very heavily traveled. Two toll gates were installed on this completed section. With the State's interest in the road by conscription to its capital stock in 1837, the work was pushed forward. The eight and one-half miles from Sharonville to Palmyra (Mason) were completed in 1838 and a third toll gate was erected.
The road was completed through to Lebanon in 1839. The line of the road was changed from the original plans. These original plans called for the road to come in on the west side to Main Street. It was agreed to that a southerly route would allow the road to come in on Broadway.
On December 1, 1839, a fourth and a fifth toll gate were erected to the completed section from Cincinnati to Waynesville, a distance of thirty eight miles. By December 1841 the road was nearly completed to Xenia.

The Cincinnati, Columbus and Wooster Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1828. The charter said in certain terms that the road should be terminated at Goshen. In 1838 this road of a little over 22 miles was completed from Cincinnati thru Milford to Goshen (S.R. 28). There were a total of six toll gates, five on the road and one on the bridge over the Little Miami.
The engineer of the board of public works wrote in 1839: "This will probably be the most productive road in the state, as in addition to its own travel, it will receive that of the Goshen and Wilmington road at the upper end, that of the Milford and Chillicothe for fourteen miles, and that of both the Batavia and Ohio roads for about six miles from Cincinnati."
The cost of this road was about $8,000 per mile. The total cost of the turnpike was $151,600.

The Goshen, Wilmington and Columbus Turnpike Company continued the road from Goshen to Wilmington, a distance of twenty-four miles, passing thru the towns of Butlerville, Black Hawk, Osceola and Middleboro, in Warren County, and Clarksville in Clinton County. This section was completed in 1841. The cost of this highway was $190,000.

The Great Miami Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1837 to build a road thru Miamisburg and Franklin to Sharonville (Old U.S. 25/Dixie Highway) on the Lebanon pike. Much of this turnpike followed the Miami Canal. From Dayton to Sharonville the distance was 37 miles. In 1840, except for about five miles, this road had been graded and partially graveled. The finished portions were from Dayton to Miamisburg, a distance of about six miles; the other area being the sixteen miles from Franklin to Chester (West Chester). A total of 28 miles was completed in 1841 and toll gates were set up. A short distance of the total road was not completed and the toll receipts collected were to be applied to the completion of the turnpike.

The Dayton, Centerville and Lebanon Turnpike (S.R. 48) was the main artery from Lebanon to Dayton. The road stretched to a distance of a little less than twenty-three miles. In August, 1839, only ten miles was completed, of which toll was collected.
A description of this turnpike in 1839 is described as such; "This road leads out of Main Street, Dayton, passing over an undulating country. It is well constructed of stone and gravel, and the grades are in all cases easy, with perhaps the exception of a hill near Dayton which it becomes necessary to encounter in order to reach Main Street." The total cost of this road was about $100, 000.

The Montgomery Pike (S.R. 3 & U.S. 22) was the road constructed by the Cincinnati, Montgomery, Hopkinsville and Clarksville Turnpike Company. This company was incorporated in 1834. The charter called for the road to be completed to Roachester within ten years. The road was never macadamized further than Hopkinsville, a distance of twenty-four miles from Cincinnati. At Fosters, a toll bridge was built over the Little Miami. As of November 26, 1839, ten miles of the first portion was finished and tolls were taken in two locations. The State paid for this portion of the road over $28,000 and individuals the same amount. In 1840, the state withdrew its aid and the company was thrown into a financial bind. Because of this embarrassment many farmers who had worked on the road received no pay.

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This page created 7 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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