The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway of Indiana

Due to its location, Indiana has been crossed by railroads since the railroad boom began. As time went on, most railroad companies in Indiana would be consolidated into larger, mostly eastern, railroad companies. The two biggest in Indiana were the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. Other eastern railroads would come to the state, in smaller proportions. One of these was the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O), usually referred to as the Chessie.

What would become the C&O of Indiana was a relative late comer to the state. The original plan for the railroad company, chartered as the Chicago & Cincinnati on 22 January 1902, was to create a direct connection between the two title cities. Another railroad, the Cincinnati, Richmond & Muncie (CR&M), was chartered on 23 March 1900. These two companies were merged into a second Cincinnati, Richmond & Muncie Railroad on 20 May 1902.

The first CR&M did actually build a great deal of track. In 1901, the company connected Cottage Grove to Muncie for a total of 57.89 miles. Cottage Grove is a town southeast of Liberty in Union County. This route came out of Cottage Grove due north, connecting to Richmond and Muncie. The route connecting Richmond to Muncie basically follow what is now US 35 between the two cities.

The second piece of track built by the first CR&M was completed in 1902 from Muncie to North Judson, 109.9 miles. This connected Muncie to Marion and Peru on its way to North Judson. At that time, North Judson was serviced by several railroads at that time. By 1910, these railroads were the New York Central, the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (aka Panhandle) of the Pennsylvania, and the Erie. This would allow the CR&M access to Chicago via trackage rights. It should be noted here that the Panhandle route that connected to North Judson also connect that town to Marion, like the CR&M. The Panhandle route, though, connected through Logansport.The second CR&M company would connect North Judson to Beatrice, a span of 26.7 miles, in 1902.

Another company that would build part of the completed route from Cincinnati to Chicago would be formed on 7 March 1902 in Ohio as the Cincinnati & Indiana Western. That company started construction on the line from Cincinnati to Cottage Grove, a line of 45 miles. This company, however, would not complete this construction before it was consolidated, on 1 June 1903, with the second Cincinnati, Richmond & Muncie to become the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad (CC&L). This company complete the line that the Cincinnati & Indiana Western started on 7 February 1904. On the same day, the company opened trackage from Beatrice, in Porter County, to Griffith, in Lake County. Completion of the tracks would connect Cincinnati to Griffith.

The line would end at Griffith until trackage was completed, in October 1907, to the Illinois-Indiana State Line by the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville. On 2 July 1910, a new company was chartered in Indiana, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company of Indiana (C&O-I). This company was formed after the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville was sold at foreclosure on 23 June 1910. The new C&O-I acquired the CC&L property three days after it was formed.

The Chesapeake & Ohio would continue through many changes of ownership. At one point, the majority of the stock in the C&O also owned the majority shares in the Nickel Plate, Pere Marquette and the Erie. This fell apart with the onset of the Great Depression. The C&O would, in 1973, be loosely combined with the Baltimore & Ohio and the Western Maryland to form the Chessie System. Eventually, these three lines would be gradually integrated, forming a cohesive whole. 1982 saw the Chessie System merge with the Seaboard Coast Line (the owner of the former Monon in Indiana) to create CSX Transportation. Five years later, CSX decided that the old C&O-I line across Indiana was no longer needed. Most of it was abandoned and pulled up. The old route forms the basis of the Cardinal Greenway, a rail-trail that, when completed, would use most of the old right of way to connect Richmond to Marion with a multi-use recreational facility.

3 thoughts on “The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway of Indiana

  1. The link that provided the CC&L access to Chicago was the Hammond Belt Ry. It was a paper railroad that was chartered in Illinois and connected to the CC&L at the state line near Michigan City Road. The ROW went northwest from the state line and connected to the IHB in Burnham IL near Torrence Ave at what was called Louisville Jct. CC&L secured trackage rights over the IHB to Highlawn (Riverdale) and a connection with the IC, which was used to reach downtown Chicago.

    This arrangement was so unsatisfactory that the Hammond Belt was taken out of service shortly after C&O of I was formed. Trackage rights over the Erie from HY Tower to the NKP-Erie bridge over the Grand Calumet River in Hammond were arranged. From Hammond a variety of routes to Chicago were used over the following years.

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