New York Central/Big Four to Columbus - Norfolk Southern, Dayton District, Central Division


Former CCC & St. L (Big Four)/New York Central to Columbus

Standard gauge line opened in 1872

Downtown terminal: Central Union Depot (3rd Street & Central Avenue)

Line begins at Ivorydale (St. Bernard) and heads north via Sharonville, Middletown, and Dayton

In active use

The Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway (CCC&I) was formed from the merger of the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad (CC&C) with the Bellefontaine Railway on May 16, 1868. The Bellefontaine had been formed by a merger of the Bellefontaine & Indiana Railroad and the Indianapolis, Pittsburgh & Cleveland Railroad in 1864. At its inception the CCC&I had 83 locomotives, 47 of which came from the CC&C and 36 from the Bellefontaine.  After its formation, the CCC&I sought to make a connection to Cincinnati. This connection had never been realized by its predecessor line, the Cleveland Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad, which ran trains only between Cleveland and Columbus. In 1871, the CCC&I made agreements to lease and operate the Cincinnati & Springfield Railroad (C&S) and its 16 engines between Cincinnati and Dayton.  That company was building a somewhat indirect line in order to serve Dayton and Middletown, but it came straight down the length of Mill Creek Valley with only two curves and a gentle descending grade to reach the recently completed extension of the Marietta & Cincinnati at what was soon to be called Ivorydale Junction after the chief product made in the neighboring factories of the Procter and Gamble Company.  The C&S hadn't even finished construction when leased by the CCC&I, but service started just one year later in 1872.  They also leased the Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad between Dayton and Springfield, finally providing a through route from Cleveland and Columbus to Cincinnati.

On July 23, 1882, the CCC&I acquired the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railroad (I&SL) in a judicial sale. The St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute railroad, which the I&SL had leased, was included in the sale. The I&SL continued to be operated under its own name after the acquisition.  On July 1, 1889, the CCC&I merged with lines in Indiana and Illinois to form the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, known as the Big Four. At the time of the merger, the CCC&I had 161 locomotives and the I&SL had 47. The Big Four eventually became a part of the New York Central Railroad.

Closely paralleling the CH&D through the Mill Creek Valley, this new company used the Indianapolis & Cincinnati's Plum Street Station and later Central Union Depot with the Marietta.  After the 1913 flood the tracks east of Dayton were rerouted to the south away from the Mad River and what would later become the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  During the Penn Central years, the Big Four east of London was downgraded and mainline trains were routed onto former Pennsylvania track, an arrangement still in use today, and the track east of London has been largely abandoned. Despite reroutings and changing traffic patterns north of Cincinnati, the line through the Mill Creek Valley remains very busy, and it is now operated by Norfolk Southern. To combat congestion, NS and CSX have a directional running agreement between Ivorydale and Hamilton whereby the majority of northbound trains run on the former CH&D and southbound trains run on the former Big Four and PRR Richmond Division north of Mill in Evendale.  Just past Mill, the large Sharon Yard used to be the major classification facility, but it has been demoted in recent years in favor of the Queensgate area, though it still has several tracks in use. 


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