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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD, which owned several railroads serving the Cleveland area, was acquired by the CHESAPEAKE & OHIO RAILROAD in 1962, and the merged railroad, renamed the Chessie System, became part of the CSX CORP. in 1980. The Baltimore & Ohio was chartered in Maryland on 28 Feb. 1827, and operations began in 1830 on a 14-mile section of track between Baltimore and Ellicott, MD. The railroad grew to become one of America's largest through numerous mergers, several of which concerned roads that operated through Cleveland. One such road was the Cleveland, Tuscarawas Valley & Wheeling Railroad, organized on 2 July 1870 as the Lake Shore & Tuscarawas Valley Railroad, primarily to ship coal. Access to markets for this coal was provided by connections with several larger railroads, including the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis railways.

The 101-mile line of the Lake Shore & Tuscarawas Valley Railway formally opened on 18 Aug. 1873, with the northern terminus at Black River Harbor (Lorain), OH, with tracks through Grafton to Uhrichsville, OH, the southern terminus. At Grafton, the Lake Shore & Tuscarawas Valley Railroad connected with the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway. Clevelanders WILLIAM BINGHAM†, Henry Chaflen, AMOS TOWNSEND†, and 10 others were chosen by the Lake Shore & Tuscarawas in July 1871 to solicit subscriptions of stock in the city. In 1872 Worthy S. Streator was president, while William Grout and SYLVESTER T. EVERETT† served as secretary and treasurer, respectively, and central offices were in the Case Bldg. In Feb. 1872, Cleveland received its first Lake Shore & Tuscarawas Valley coal train, and by 1873 there also were 3 daily passenger trains leaving the city. Although the road did not have any tracks in Cleveland, its trains reached the city by using Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis tracks.

Debts from new construction and equipment purchases combined with the Panic of 1873 to push the newly formed Lake Shore into receivership in 1874, and following the foreclosure it was reorganized on 1 Feb. 1875 as the Cleveland, Tuscarawas Valley & Wheeling Railway. In Feb. 1882 the railroad again went into receivership and emerged from reorganization as the Cleveland Lorain & Wheeling Railroad. The management and Board of Directors included Clevelanders SELAH CHAMBERLAIN† and Worthy S. Streator who were president and vice-president, respectively. AMASA STONE†, Edwin Perkins, and Oscar Townsend were directors, and the main offices were in the Merchants Bank Bldg. The reorganized Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling fared better than its predecessors. The railroad also expanded by completing the line to W. Wheeling in 1880 and consolidating with the Cleveland & Southwestern Railway (a 30-mile line, from Cleveland to Medina) in Nov. 1893. This gave the CL&W a Cleveland terminal on Literary St. on the Cuyahoga River. The CL&W came under the operational control of the B&O Railroad in 1909; in 1915 the B&O purchased the entire system.

Another Cleveland-area railroad that became part of the B&O and eventually part of CSX was the Valley Railway Co., organized in August 1871 to run from Cleveland to Bowerstown in Monroe Twp., where it would connect with the Baltimore & Ohio. Work started in 1873, but the depression delayed the opening of the entire main line until 1 January 1883. The road entered Cleveland by way of the old Ohio & Erie canal bed on Merwin St. The freight station was on Columbus St., while the passenger station was on Canal Rd. in the FLATS. Following the construction of a branch from NEWBURGH to Willow in 1894, the Valley Railway fell into receivership; unable to meet its debts, the property was sold under foreclosure. Its successor was the Cleveland, Terminal & Valley Railway Co., chartered on 3 October 1895. Soon thereafter the B&O acquired a controlling interest in the line, and in 1915, all of the CT&V's properties were bought by the B&O.

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had become one of America's largest railroad systems by 1915, with 4,535 miles of mainline track. Its tracks extended from New York City in the east to Chicago and St. Louis in the west. Baltimore, Cincinnati, Lexington, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia were among the other major cities served. The purchase of the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling and the Cleveland, Terminal & Valley properties was beneficial to the B&O for 2 reasons. By 1915, Cleveland was an important iron-and-steel-producing center, and tracks into Cleveland gave the B&O ready access to a large market for the coal from the Virginia Tidewater areas which it also serviced. Also, Cleveland's port provided entry to other states bordering the Great Lakes. In the Cleveland area, the B&O had 2 main sets of tracks in 1915. The Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railway tracks approached Cleveland on the extreme southwest, running through BROOKSIDE RESERVATION and underneath Pearl Rd. The tracks then curved northward in the vicinity of the Harvard-Denison Bridge and proceeded into the Flats, where they ended between W. 3rd and W. 4th sts. The total distance covered in the city limits was approx. 6.3 miles. The other set were those of the Cleveland, Terminal & Valley Railway; they entered the city limits in the south between Bradley Rd. and the CUYAHOGA RIVER and ran northward along the river and through the Flats to WHISKEY ISLAND. Within the city, the tracks of the old Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railway covered a distance of 7 miles. There was also a Willow Branch beginning in Independence Twp. that entered the city limits around E. 73rd St. and ran for a mile along Mill Creek and Spring Brook to Broadway, where it ended.

The Baltimore, & Ohio served numerous Cleveland businesses and industries during the early 1920s and 1930s. Among its largest customers were the CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO., the Grasselli and Harshaw chemical companies, the Otis Steel Works, Sherwin-Williams Paints & Varnishes, Standard Oil, and the THEODOR KUNDTZ CO. In 1915 its general offices were in the ROCKEFELLER BUILDING, with the freight office at 1997 W. 3rd and the freight depot at 1681 Columbus Rd. Passengers purchased tickets at an office at 341 Euclid Ave. and boarded passenger trains at the old Valley Railway Station on Canal Rd. The passenger service of the B&O in 1915 consisted of 8 daily trains. Four of these ran along the old Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling tracks and stopped at Lester and Sterling, OH. From there, passengers could catch a mainline passenger train to Chicago. The other 4 used the old Cleveland, Terminal & Valley tracks, stopping at Akron and Youngstown before proceeding to Pittsburgh, Washington, and Baltimore. In 1950 the B&O freight trains still served chemical, petroleum, steel, and utility companies in the city, including Harshaw Chemical Co., the National Solvent Co., Cities Service Oil, Naphsol Refining, Jones & Laughlin Steel (formerly the Otis Steel Co.), and the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co.

By the 1950s, the B&O had freight stations at 8222 Broadway and 4002 W. 25th St., and a new freight depot, built in 1954, on Columbus Ave. The most dramatic changes, however, occurred in the railroad's passenger facilities and services. Since mid-June 1934, the road had been using the Terminal Tower as its passenger station; the old Valley Railway passenger station on Canal Rd. had been changed into a freight office. The Cleveland Night Express, which provided overnight service between Baltimore and Cleveland was the last B&O passenger train to leave the Terminal, on 7 Dec. 1962. The Chesapeake & Ohio acquired the Baltimore and Ohio in 1963 (see the CHESAPEAKE & OHIO RAILROAD).

Last Modified: 21 Jul 1997 01:30:47 PM

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