Make your own free website on

The History of the Cincinnati and Toledo Railway

The famous Cincinnati and Toledo is a railroad which operates in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Known for fast and reliable service, this railroad has been a standard by which other railroads are measured since its humble beginnings.

The Cincinnati and Toledo Railway had its beginnings in 1852 when the Columbus and Peking Railroad was chartered with the ultimate goal of building a broad gauge cog railroad to connect Ohio with the Far East. Although the engineers realized building a bridge to connect Asia with America would be an impossible feat, they figured that by the time the line reached the Pacific Ocean, sufficient technology would be available to build such a span. The line had made it as far west as Indianapolis when a spring flood washed away the Miami River bridge as well as most of the equipment in the yard and facilities near the bridge. This unfortunate event bankrupted the railroad which was repossessed by the bank and sold to a local kid at a seized property auction for a dollar. His parents were somewhat dismayed by his purchase, and insisted that he throw out something of equal volume as the house was becoming filled with junk he had brought home. He chose to give away his collection of obsolete ironclad battleships to a friend who later put them to use invading and sacking small island nations. He regauged the railroad and operated both halves using equipment looted from the Cumberland and Gulf Railroad during the Civil War. This railroad proved enormously successful and soon had enough capital to rebuild the Miami River bridge and double track the line.

A Columbus and Peking locomotive crosses the west approach to the Miami River Bridge in 1858.

This railroad, now renamed the Columbus and Indianapolis Railroad, began purchasing smaller lines to increase its reach. The first line it purchased was the Emerson Lake and Palmer Railroad Co., a short line in eastern Indiana in 1882. After this, a series of other railroads were bought up and assimilated. These include the Cleveland Southwestern Railway (The Ohio Belt), The Portsmouth and Cincinnati Railway and Steam Navigation Co., and a score of smaller railroads.

In 1881, a group of German investors began a Railroad named the Cincinnati and Toledo Railway between its namesake cities. It was completed in 1890 with the golden spike being driven just North of Sidney. This golden spike was pulled from the tie by thieves a week later. This railroad generated a phenomenal amount of revenue shuttling goods between the port cities along Lake Erie and the Ohio River. With the economic collapse of Germany after the Great War, the investors were forced to sell the line at a fraction of its value to its competitor, the Columbus and Indianapolis Railroad.

No. 122, the C & Tís first locomotive, now part of the railroadís historical collection, is shown here crossing the Union Run bridge near Mason, Ohio on a fan trip. This first locomotive was numbered 122 rather than 1 to give the impression that they had a large fleet of locomotives.

The Columbus and Indianapolis Railroad assumed the name the Cincinnati and Toledo shortly after the takeover as the original C & T had gained a considerable reputation for fast and safe service which they wanted to use to their advantage. The line enjoyed marginal success during its first decade of operation but, like most companies, it suffered somewhat during the great depression.

In 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. The Germans saw this as the perfect opportunity to reclaim the railroad that they felt was rightfully theirs and declared war on the United States a few days later. World War II proved to be exceptionally profitable to the Cincinnati and Toledo which carried munitions to Allied ships in Lake Erie to be used against Hitler in the European theater. In 1945, Hitler committed suicide, cursing his uncle for investing in "that damned American railroad" which carried many of the weapons used against him.

A Cincinnati and Toledo F3 sitting near the diesel facilities in New Miami, Ohio awaiting its next assignment in July, 1952. (prototype photo)

After the war, the migration of people to the suburbs proved profitable once again to the Cincinnati and Toledo. The C & T, noticing the traffic jams caused by the thousands who rushed the cities daily from the suburbs, began operating regularly scheduled commuter trains consisting of a Budd Car and, on busy days, an additional coach. These trains proved exceptionally popular, but they tended to slow down the freight trains. This led to a massive project in which side tracks were installed at many of the stations along the line. This effort was in vain as they were completed about the same time as the interstate highways which allowed commuters a quicker, more direct way to get to work.

In the 1970s, the Cincinnati and Toledo, like many railroads, suffered a severe recession. In order to stay in business, the C & T discontinued its passenger trains including most of the commuter trains and sold off its barge operations on the Ohio River. Although it laid off hundreds of employees, it managed to stay in business without abandoning any major lines. This recession lasted until about 1985 when companies began shipping by rail again because shipping by truck proved to be too expensive and unreliable.

In the year 2006, an event occured which changed the course of railroad history forever. A train carrying powdered iron oxide on the C & T, now the only railroad in existence not part of the Union Pacific, was crossing the diamond near Lima, Ohio where the Union Pacific crossed it. A remotely controlled Union Pacific train carrying several hoppers full of powdered aluminum from a recycling plant broadsided the C & T train at the diamond. Both loads became thoroughly mixed together in the accident. Shortly afterwards, the two chemicals began reacting when the Union Pacificís new EMD Dilithium Crystal-Electric locomotive caught on fire and heated up the mixture. The reaction produced such intense heat that it melted a hole a mile deep in the earthís surface. The Cincinnati and Toledo was able to detour around the accident for the three years it took to fill in the hole, but the Union Pacific was not so lucky. The line on which the accident occurred was their key east-west line. Nearly every train on the system was stopped for three years causing the Union Pacific to go broke. It was soon purchased by its only competitor, the Cincinnati and Toledo Railroad.

Artistís conception of an EMD Dilithium Crystal-Electric locomotive similar to one involved in the accident which appeared in the July 2003 issue of Trains magazine.

This huge rail system, American Trains and Transportation (AT&T), dubbed "Ma Rail" by the public, was ordered to break up by the supreme court in 2020 after it was found to be in violation of the Antitrust Act of 1903. This ended the great railroad empire which began nearly 175 years before.

As of this writing, the splinter railroads of AT&T have almost completely converted to dilithium crystal-electric locomotives, but a few diesels remain on the property for protection power with the largest collection of them belonging to the newly formed Pennsylvania Railroad.

This page presented by:

  • Back to the original Cumberland Southern Lines page