Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad

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The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was a Class I railroad formed in 1869 in Virginia from several smaller Virginia railroads begun in the 19th century. Led by industrialist Collis P. Huntington, it reached from Virginia's capital city of Richmond to the Ohio River by 1873, where the railroad town (and later city) of Huntington, West Virginia was named for him.

Tapping the coal reserves of West Virginia, the C&O's Peninsula Extension to new coal piers on the harbor of Hampton Roads resulted in the creation of the new City of Newport News. Coal revenues also led the forging of a rail link to the Midwest, eventually reaching Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo in Ohio and Chicago, Illinois.[1]

Origins[edit | edit source]

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway traced its origin to the Louisa Railroad of Louisa County, Virginia, begun in 1836, and the James River & Kanawha Canal Company, also begun in Virginia in 1785. The first train ran on December 20, 1837.

Originally a feeder line to connect with the predecessor of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, It also expanded west, reaching Charlottesville. [2]

Civil War[edit | edit source]

During the Civil War the Virginia Central Railroad was one of the


Confederacy's most important lines, carrying food from the Shenandoah region to Richmond, and ferrying troops and supplies back and forth as the campaigns surrounded its tracks frequently. It had an important connection with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Gordonsville, Virginia. On more than one occasion, the Virginia Central was used in actual tactical operations, transporting troops directly to the battlefield. But, it was a prime target for Federal armies, and by the end of the war had only about five miles (8 km) of track still in operation, and $40 in gold in its treasury.
[3] [4]

After the Civil War[edit | edit source]

The railway continued to grow to the west and south to meet the needs of the nation subsequent to the destruction of the war. Tracks were layed to West Virgina to support the expanding coal mining industry.
in 1888, J.P. Morgan and William K. Vanderbilt purchased the majority interest in the company. The company constructed lines down the south bank of the Ohio River in Kentucky across the river to Cincinnati. In 1889 it merged with the Richmond and allegheny Railroad company.
In 1910 the company merged with Chicago, Cincinnati & Lousiville Railroad, thus stretching its lines across Indiana and tying to the Chicago railroad hub.[5]

During that same year, it purchased control of the Kanawha and Michigan and Hocking Valley lines in Ohio, connecting it to the Great Lakes through Columbus.[6]

  1. Wikipedia [1]
  2. Wikipedia [2]
  3. Wikipedia [3]
  4. Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society [4]
  5. Wikipedia [5]
  6. Wikipedia [6]