History of Railways in Darke County
From: History of Darke County, Ohio
From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time
By: Frazer E. Wilson
The Hibart Publishing Company
Milford, Ohio 1914
From a material standpoint three things have probably contributed more toward the making of Darke county than
all other forces and institutions combined, viz.: drainage, roads and railways. We have previously noted the remarkable
results accomplished by drainage operations and road building and will consider briefly the effects of railway
building. The first means of transportation of supplies of food from the older settlements to Darke county was
by means of pack horses over the military trails cut by St. Clair and Wayne. The difficulties and dangers encountered
by these pack trains were typified in the sending back of a whole regiment by St. Clair to guard a train of supplies
advancing from Fort Washington, October, 1791, and in the vicious attack on Lieutenant Lowery and his men while
bringing supplies to Wayne's new camp at Greenville in October, 1793. It was a slow, tedious and hazardous process
in those early days but the most efficient known. After the trails had been widened and improved, heavy wagons
were used. No doubt many of the early settlers came into the county from distant points in large conestoga wagons
drawn by from four to six horses whose combined strength was often necessary to pull the cumbersome vehicles over
the rough corduroy stretches and through the swampy places. As the roads were improved lighter vehicles were employed.
The National road was finished from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio river in 1825 and to the Indiana line in 1830, thus
furnishing a valuable outlet for the produce raised within its reach. The Erie canal was opened in 1825 and as
a consequence grain soon increased fifty per cent. in price. The first railway in Ohio was finished in 1838 and
it is interesting to note that the first railway reached Darke county thirteen years later. The significance of
this event, its far reaching influence and the enthusiasm aroused can scarcely be conceived in these days of many
railways. To give an adequate account of the building of this road we herewith quote from Beer's History of Darken
county published in 1880:
The opening of the G. &, M. railway was the occasion of much rejoicing in the county seat which was manifested in various ways. The social leaders got up a dance for which the following invitation was issued:
The company of yourself and lady is solicited to attend a cotillion party to be given at Greenville, on Friday evening, June 11, 1852, in honor of the opening of the Greenville and Miami Railroad.
Greenville - E. B. Taylor, W. H. Daily, R. A. Knox, J. B. Grover, J. D. Farrer, O. A. Lyman, J. G. Rees, T.
K. Potter, J. R. Knox, W. R. Weston, D. Laurimore, W. C. Porterfield.
The C. C. C. & St. L., or "Big Four" Railway.
The beginning of the Greenville and Miami railway inspired another enterprise and in 1848 the charter of the
Bellefontaine and Indianapolis railway was granted by the legislatures of Ohio and Indiana. Mr. William M. Wilson
then represented Darke county in the Ohio senate. The charter drafted for the proposed new road provided that certain
places, as Sidney and Greenville, should be on the road "provided" they were "practicable"
points. It seems that Mr. Wilson's vote was secured for the charter with the definite understanding that the road
would be constructed through Piqua and Greenville, his home town. The words "if practicable" proved to
be a "sleeper" and the road was constructed on a "bee line" through Sidney and Versailles,
leaving Piqua and Greenville several miles to the south. It is said that much laboring and lobbying was done on
account of this road and Mr. George Ward, who represented both Darke and Shelby counties in the legislature, is
credited with being largely instrumental in causing the more northern route to be adopted. Work on this road was
soon commenced in Darke county, probably as early as the fall of 1848 or the spring of 1849, making it the first
line started within this territory. The road was not completed until 1852 or 1853, however.
The Pennsylvania Railway.
The P. C. C. & St. Louis railway now operates two lines which radiate from Bradford, the division point, the Logansport division extending in a straight line to Union City, a distance of about twenty and one half miles, and the Indianapolis division, extending to Greenville and thence southwesterly toward Richmond, a distance of about twenty six and one third miles. The Logansport division passes through Adams, northern Greenville and Jackson townships in a direction somewhat north of west, with intermediate stations at Horatio, Stelvideo, Pikeville and Woodington. A second track has recently been finished on the right of way, the grading improved, several overhead crossings constructed, and vast improvements made making this probably the most improved and valuable stretch of railway in the county. As it connects New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Chicago an immense amount of business is transacted. Work on this division in Darke county was begun in 1852 and continued about two years, when financial embarrassment overtook the enterprise. Work was resumed in 1858 and regular trains were running from Columbus to Union City by the last of April, 1859. The road at that time was known as the Columbus, Piqua and Indiana Railroad and was incorporated at $2,000,000 by Wm. Wilson and John C. Potter of Darke county, with others from Miami, Champaign, Madison and Franklin counties.
The Indianapolis division of this road was built through Darke county during the years 1862 and 1863. It was
organized in 1861 as the Richmond and Covington Railroad Company for the purpose of connecting the first division
at Bradford with the Indiana Central Railroad at Richmond, Ind. Evan Baker, of Greenville, was president of the
road at this time, and A. Price was the contractor. On account of the hills of gravel and excellent ballasting
material along the right of way the cost of construction was reasonable, and the estimate for completing the road
was seven thousand dollars per mile. Darke county was asked to subscribe $25,000.00 or about one fourth of the
amount needed to put the road through. E. Baker, the Careys, P. Pomeroy and Thos. Waring were largely instrumental
in pushing the work to completion. Through lease, purchase, manipulation and reorganization both of these divisions
finally became an integral part of the great Pennsylvania Railway Co., which is one of the greatest and most efficient
railway systems in the world, connecting the seaboard at New York with St. Louis and Chicago, the gateways to the
west and northwest. The value of this road to Greenville and Darke county is almost inestimable. The amount of
business transacted by this road at Greenville alone is estimated at about $140,000.00 yearly. Eighteen heavy passenger
and mail trains and sixteen scheduled freight trains pass this point daily. This division passes through Adams,
southern Greenville, Neave, northwestern Butler and Harrison townships and has intermediate stations at Gettysburg,
Greenville, Weaver's New Madison and Wiley's. The total main trackage of these two divisions in Darke county is
over sixty seven miles in length. The total value for taxation in 1912, as listed in the county treasurerer's office
The Cincinnati Northern Railway.
The main north and south railway operating in the county is the Cincinnati Northern, which crosses the northern
boundary at Burkettsville, passes almost directly south through Allen, Brown and northern Greenville townships
to the county seat, and then continues down the Mud creek prairie through Neave township and across the Maple swamp
district of Butler township, leaving the county about one mile below Castine. The intermediate stations from the
north downward are New Weston, Rossburg, Ansonia, Meeker, Greenville, Ft. Jefferson, Savona and Castine. This road
has about thirty one and a third miles of main track and over seven miles of siding in the county, and was valued
for taxation in 1912 at $751,570.00. It has a unique history, illustrating in a striking manner the difficulties
encountered in early railway construction. The construction of this line was first agitated in 1853, it then being
the object to extend it from the straits of Mackinac to Cincinnati. Large and enthusiastic meetings were held in
Van Wert, Greenville and other points in that year, and local organizations effected. Survey commenced in August
and Moses Hart took stock subscriptions at his store in Greenville. By October 19, $200,000.00 had been subscribed.
The estimated cost was less than $17,500.00 per mile and the distance from Greenville to the northern line of the
state was one hundred and eleven miles on the route proposed. From various causes the construction of the line
was delayed, but the directors did not abandon hope of final success. Changes were proposed in the route between
Celina and Greenville, a distance of thirty two miles, and bids were received on this section at Greenville in
1858. On June 2, 1858, fifteen miles of road were placed under contract together with the trestle and culvert work
of the entire distance between Celina and Greenville. The remaining seventeen miles were resurveyed with a view
to alteration. After a large part of the grading had been done the enterprise was abandoned on account of the failure
to dispose of bonds in the European market. The Civil War ensued with the financial depression which followed reconstruction
and the revival of industry and the enterprise lay dormant until about 1880. Agitation was again revived and the
road was built through Greenville in 1883 after much difficulty. J. L. Winner, J. W. Frizzel and Moses Hart took
active part in the original enterprise and John Devor and L. L. Bell in the last. The road was finally completed
from Jackson, Mich., to Germantown, with connections to Cincinnati, under the name of the Cincinnati, Jackson and
Mackinaw Railway, and was popularly known as the "Mackinaw." Later it became known as the Cincinnati
Northern Railway, and has lately become an important part of the New York 'Central lines.
The Peoria & Eastern Railway.
The Peoria & Eastern division of the Big Four, formerly known as the I. B. & W. Railway, extends through the southern part of the county in an east and west direction. It crosses the eastern county line in the northern part of Monroe township and runs directly west through Monroe and Twin to the Greenville and New Madison pike in northwestern Butler township, then zigzags about in a northwesterly direction through northern Harrison and southern German townships reaching the state line near the southwest corner of the latter township. The stations along this line are Pittsburg, Arcanum, Savona, Clark's Station and Glenkarn. It was built in, and affords an outlet to the southern part of the county similar to that provided by the other division of the "Big Four" in the northern part. It has over twenty two miles of main track and about four and a third miles of siding in the county, and was listed for taxation in 1912 at $655,880.00.
C. H. & D. Railway.
The railway having the smallest mileage in the county is a branch of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton system, formerly known as the "Narrow Gauge." It crosses the northern line of the county near the northwestern corner of Patterson township, runs almost due south through Patterson and Wayne townships to Versailles, and then curves in a southeasterly direction and crosses the eastern line of the county near the southwestern corner of Wayne township. The stations along this line are Osgood, Yorkshire and Versailles. It has a main trackage of twelve and one fifth miles and about a mile and a half of siding in the county. It was constructed about 1881.
Ohio Electric Railway.
The practical application of electricity to the purposes of transportation developed about 1890. The next ten
years witnessed a rapid improvement in knowledge, and methods of electrical control. By 1900 nearly every large
city in the United States had displaced the old horse cars by electrically driven cars and electrical traction
lines were being projected from these centers to the surrounding towns, especially in the eastern section of the
country. Dayton was one of the most enterprising of the Ohio cities in this respect and soon had about ten lines
projected, with the object of increasing local business. Among these, was one to Greenville and Union City. This
was fostered and vigorously pushed to completion by Dr. J. E. Lowes of Dayton. It was completed to Greenville in
1901 and to Union City in 1904, and has proven a great boon to travelers, especially on account of the many rural
stops, and hourly car service. It was also instrumental in quickening the service on the D. &.U. Railway, which
it practically parallels. It had about thirty one miles of main track and about one mile of siding in the county,
when it was listed for taxation in 1912, at $639,820.00. Thus it will be seen that Darke county has seven railways
and one traction line crossing it in various directions with a total mileage of about two hundred and ten miles,
exclusive of sidings, and a total valuation for taxation of about $8,000,000.00.