This abandoned railway line began as the Akron Branch of Cleveland and Pittsburg Railway, in 1852. Later, the Akron branch became the Cleveland, Zanesville and Cincinnati Railroad. At the time, the railroad only made it to Millersburg, Ohio. It became part of the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railway, itself becoming part of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1869. However, the PRR sold the line to the Pittsburgh, Mount Vernon, Columbus and London Railroad, which completed the line to Columbus. Afterwards, it was renamed the Cleveland, Mount Vernon and Delaware Railroad. The railroad went bankrupt in 1881, and became the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railway. It finally reached Zanesville by 1888. The company came back under control of the PRR in 1899.
On July 31, 1940, this line made history when an Akron-bound, gasoline-electric "Doodlebug" (self powered commuter car) slammed head on into a northbound freight train, lead locomotive was steam, killing 43. To this day, the accident remains the worst rail accident in Akron history.
In the 1958, during a time as railroads were declining, the last PRR passenger train ran on this route. By 1968, the decline had become so severe that the PRR and the New York Central merged, forming the Penn Central (PC).
In 1969, major flooding washed out a portion of the line north of Holmesville. Since the now-merged PC favored the ex-NYC Cleveland-Columbus route, the washout was never repaired, and the line never again handled through trains. The washout also caused the PC to begin abandoning the route.
By the early 1980s, most of the route had been ripped up. In 1986, the Clinton-Orrville segment was finally abandoned, and in 1991, the route between Hudson and Akron was abandoned. However, the Hudson-Akron line was sold in 1994 to the Summit County Port Authority for possible future use as a commuter line.
Today, a portion of this segment through the counties of Holmes and Knox is now in use as Rail Trails, both the 15-mile long Holmes County trail, and the 14-mile long Kokosing Gap Trail, respectively. For the Hudson-Akron route, rails, crossing signals, and "RXR" crossing signs/pavement markings still remain on this segment, although crossings have been paved over, and crossing signals and signs have been "covered." Plans for light-rail service have been shelved for many years, although the current high fuel prices (at the time of this writing) have caused some interest in light-rail service once again between Cleveland and neighboring Akron.
Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information about this route.