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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

History Of The Little Miami Railroad

Dallas Bogan on 4 Oct 2004
The following is is an original article written by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The State of Ohio issued its first charter in regards to a railroad to the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad Company on January 5, 1832. The next was issued to the Little Miami Railroad Company, or better known as the "Old Reliable," on March 11, 1836. Power was given to the Little Miami Railroad Company to construct and maintain a single or double track railroad, commencing from Springfield and traveling by the most practicable route to Xenia, and thence down the valley of the Little Miami to the city of Cincinnati. The charter called for a total sum of $750,000 in shares of $50 each. Books of subscription were to be opened at Springfield, Xenia, Cincinnati, etc. A specified amount of $200,000 was reached, the stockholders met, and officers were chosen who were to proceed with a survey and locate the road.
On August 24, 1837, George W. Neff was elected its first president, but on the following day, he tendered his resignation and Governor Jeremiah Morrow was elected president of the company. Others selected to the committee were: Jacob Straber, treasurer; Clark Williams, secretary; John Kilgour, auditor and W.H. Clement, superintendent. Warren County citizens foremost in the proceedings were Allen Wright, M. Roosa, Thomas Smith and John M. Hadden; each solicited subscriptions. Ormsby Mitchel made the preliminary survey and was appointed engineer. He was succeeded by Robert H. Fontleroy, and he by Robert M. Shoemaker, who was chief engineer for three years.
Some counties through which the road passed made large contributions; individual subscriptions were also generously made. The city of Cincinnati liberally donated $200,000.
Building of the LMRR was hardly started when aid promised by the State was withdrawn, there being a depression in the country at this time. Also, a great deal of stock subscribed by the farmers was paid in produce, which was sold at a loss.
Many problems arose as the building proceeded. The treasury was often empty, and there was an ever increasing dilemma of keeping the laborers paid. Another obstacle was keeping the sheriff from seizing portions of the company's property.
President Morrow was in total charge and he never lost faith that the railroad would be completed. Many opposed the project simply because they believed the railroad to be impractical.
The Little Miami Railroad Company was an organization built and operated by men of vision and integrity. Stockholders never received dividends until 1848. Previous to this, every cent of earnings was channeled back into improving the road and rolling stock.
Work on the road commenced in 1837. Grading began simultaneously south from Xenia and north from Cincinnati to Fosters. The southern line from Cincinnati followed the Ohio River east for five miles, and then veered northward up the Little Miami River valley.
Four years later, in December, 1841, it was completed to Milford, a distance of 14 miles; a few months later, it was completed to Fosters.
By July 1844, the cars arrived at Deerfield, and by the end of the year, Morrow had been reached.
In August 1845, the LMRR began scheduled service between Cincinnati and Xenia. A year later, connection was made with the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad at Springfield. A railroad was now open from the Lake to the Ohio. An undertaking of ten years was required to complete this enterprise.
(Locomotives were prohibited from entering the city of Cincinnati until the year 1845. Therefore, the cars were uncoupled and hauled into the city by teams of horses.)
A near tragedy occurred regarding the road from Xenia to Springfield. The railroad company was broke. Judge William Mills, a most impressive character of early Greene County, and owner of a prosperous resort in Yellow Springs, struck a deal with the railroad with respect to finances. He packed his belongings, mounted his horse, and rode to Boston, appealing for loans from the rich financiers to complete the railroad.
The deal with the railroad company was that if the money was acquired, the road was to travel through Yellow Springs rather than the proposed plan of it going through Clifton. Judge Mills had gambled and won. Actual construction of the LMRR was begun by placing oak ties, six inches square by eight feet long, onto layers of clay. (In later construction they were laid on a bed of gravel or sand.) Fastened to these ties were white oak stringers twelve feet long, and spaced accordingly to create a gauge of 4 ft. 8 1/2 in. Nailed to the inside of each stringer was a strip of iron for the wheels to ride upon. The original iron rail size is not known, but, in 1844, President Morrow stated that the rail size had increased to a width of 2 1/4 inches and a thickness of 7/8 of an inch. Both sizes were unsuitable because every so often the ends of the iron would break loose, curl up and would be forced through the car floor, thus derailing the train. About 1848, the strap iron and wooden rails were replaced with T rails.
The first locomotives of the new road were made in eastern cities and shipped to Ohio by way of New Orleans to Cincinnati. It was most appropriate to name the first locomotive the "Governor Morrow." This was a rather small but capable engine of twelve tons. The drive apparatus was installed on one driving wheel on each side. President Morrow's first report was printed in December, 1843. It stated that there were 28 miles of road in daily use. At this time, the Little Miami Railroad Company owned one locomotive and two passenger cars (one for 30 and the other for 60 passengers), eight freight cars and three hand cars. The report also stated that 11,271 passengers had been carried.
In 1844, a second locomotive and two new cars were purchased. It was during this period that two locomotives were operating on the same track simultaneously, an impressive accomplishment. Simply to prevent accidents, instructions were to run slow, as no time tables were yet in use.
The names of locomotives and their weights used on the Little Miami Railroad purchased up to 1847 are: Governor Morrow, 12 tons; Xenia, 13 tons; Ben Franklin, 15 tons; Milford, 15 tons; Cincinnati, 16 tons; Warren, 14 tons; William Penn, 15 tons; Robert Fulton, 15 tons; Shawnee, 10 tons; Springfield, 13 tons; Ohio, 15 tons; Miami, 13 tons; Hamilton, 16 tons; Greene, 14 tons; and Arthur St. Clair, 15 tons.
Total distance of the Little Miami Railroad from Cincinnati to Springfield was about 84 miles.
The Columbus & Xenia Railroad was not constructed until 1848-49. The first passenger train that made connection with the LMRR and the line from Xenia to Columbus was on February 20, 1850. A short time later the Ohio General Assembly traveled over both railroads to Cincinnati.
It was, until late 1851, the only railroad in operation exiting Cincinnati. This year also showed that the railroad was very profitable.
On November 30, 1853, both companies entered into an agreement unto which both were operated as a single line.
On January 1, 1865, they agreed to lease the Dayton and Western and the Richmond & Miami Railways. Later, in the same year, they purchased the division of the Dayton, Xenia & Belpre Road between Columbus and Xenia.
The consolidation of the C & X RR and the LMRR was dissolved November 30, 1868, when the latter took a lease for 99 years of the former, which included all rights and interests of that corporation in the Dayton & Western, Xenia & Belpre, and Richmond & Miami roads.
The LMRR leased all its property to The Pittsburg, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway Company (The Panhandle) on December 1, 1869. The lease was for 99 years, renewable forever.
It brought an annual rental of 8% to the LMRR on its capital stock, besides interest on the funded debt. It also received five thousand dollars yearly for expenses of organization, and the fulfillment of lease obligations to its own leased lines.
Operation of the road was maintained through the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, which was a partner in the contract. The combined length of the lines were 195 9/10 miles. It was one of the most profitable roads in the United States. Its earnings per mile in 1879 were $6,081.92; its expenses per mile were $4,4458.53.
In early spring of 1967, the last train rolled down Detroit Street in Xenia, when the Pennsylvania Railroad ended freight service between Xenia and Yellow Springs.
In 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad consolidated with the New York Central to form the Penn Central Railroad. On June 2, the same year, the surviving Cincinnati-Columbus passenger train was rerouted through Dayton and Springfield, concluding passenger service on the Little Miami Railroad. Penn Central was taken over by Conrail in April, 1976, and the line south of Spring Valley was vacated. Thus ended 140 years of one of the most successful railroads in America's history.
The ribbons of steel have now been replaced by a long layer of asphalt, that of the Little Miami bike trail. The writer has biked this trail from Yellow Springs to Milford, and has discovered an entirely new experience. I sometimes think of the past as I am biking, and remember that this is the same road that made the Miami Valley so prosperous.

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This page created 4 Oct 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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