Jackson, MI to Franklin, OH

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The bridge over the Wabash River still remains; it's about 2 miles south of St. Henry, OH. Photo by Chuck, August 2013.

This abandoned railway line began in Ohio as the Celina, Van Wert and State Line Railroad, in 1878. A narrow gauge line, it was converted to standard gauge in 1881. At some point, it became the Cincinnati, Van Wert and Michigan Railroad, and eventually connected Jackson, Michigan to Franklin, Ohio. In 1886, it became part of the Cincinnati, Jackson, and Mackinaw Railway. In the early 1890s, it merged with several other lines to become the Cincinnati Northern Railroad, under which the line was extended to Carlisle. It was purchased by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and Saint Louis Railway (the "Big 4") in 1897, itself becoming part of the New York Central System, and later, the Penn Central in 1968.

In 1975, the portion from Cement City, Michigan, to Bryan, Ohio was abandoned. The segment from Van Wert to North Paulding was abandoned by Conrail in 1977. It is unclear when the rest of the line was abandoned, though much of it was gone by 1979 (based on railroad maps). Some portions of the line were torn up in the 1980s.

Today, only a few portions of the ROW are in use, used to connect various industries with other rail lines. Otherwise, the rest of the line remains undeveloped while other parts have been demolished due to agriculture.

Jim Peterman reports that the line between Carlisle and Germantown is owned and used by the Dupps Company, which builds commercial rendering equipment. They interchange with the CSX at Carlisle, and utilize a small GE 40-tonner for switching.

Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information about this route.

This line passed through Hudson, MI where it intersected with the Lakeshore and Southern Michigan RR. The CN went under the LSM at almost precisely 90°, and although the tracks for both lines have long been removed, the stone structure remains. Of perhaps key interest, the CNRR depot was partially moved and still stands today. Immediately (less than 100 yards) east of the overpass is the LSM stone arch bridge; built in 1871, it is a State Historic Site. Roughly 1/4-mile north of the overpass is a smaller stone bridge dated 1922. All three structures are in remarkable condition, respected enough by locals that they have even escaped graffiti and vandalism even though they're in plain view. Some very good period pictures of both lines can be found here: http://www.hudsonpg.com/HTM%20FILES/MEMORY%20LANE/MEMORY%20LANE%201.htm

Nathan Olson
Michigan
3/9/2009

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The portion from Ansonia to Greenville is still used by RJ Corman West-after the PC merger the portion from Meekers to Ansonia was used to connect the P.C.C. & StL (Bradford side) to the NYC Big Four into Union City.

Danny L.
Grove City, OH
6/17/2011

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The Cincinnati Northern ran diagonally through the corner of my Grandfathers farm cutting off about 22 acres on the other side of the track. The farm was located between Bryan and West Unity Ohio. In 1948 and engine derailed at an overpass in West Unity. The C&N crossed the Wabash in West Unity. It was not a regular run, but at times I saw an diesel Interurban go by the farm. I may have been transporting workers. One heavy rain washed out a section of track.

James C Opicka
Dayton, OH
1/21/2012

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According to some of my books, the line from Franklin, OH to Ansonia was laid with welded rail in the late 60's by the New York Central so they could move trains north out of Middletown to Chicago without taking them through the torturous Cincinnati yard system. They would take the trains up to the B Line in Ansonia. After the Penn Central merger they built a connecting track in West Manchester to connect with the Pennsylvania line between Dayton and Richmond.

This tracks from Germantown to Greenville were abandoned in 1982. The tracks from Franklin to Germantown are owned and operated by the Dupps Corp. The tracks from Greenville to Ansonia are operated by RJ Corman. I believe they are completely pulled up north of Ansonia.

Brian Spirito
Englewood , OH
6/8/2012

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The PRR's right of way is wide from the US30 crossing east of the village of Convoy to Richey Road in Van Wert County. I always wondered why? Well, 20 plus years ago, I took a little walk down the right of way to look at the dragging equipment detector east of Dull-Robinson Road. The bridge at Monkey Run Creek looked awfully wide for the amount of tracks that were once in place for my lifetime memory. It was obivious that a rail line crossed Monkey Run Creek just north of PRR's trackage, and then curved to head due north just east of the creek. This line must have been narrow gauge and short lived (completely removed by 1923 or earlier) . This line started to run north in Section 4 Pleasant Township and runs into Section 33 Union Township. Does anybody have any info of this segment of railroad?

R. Ray
Van Wert, OH
4/23/2013

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About 3.5 miles of the Cincinnati Northern rails are still in use here in Jackson, Michigan, to serve the large Gerdau steel mill on the south side of town. I think a Norfolk Southern train makes a round trip each week day to pick up steel products and waste. Last summer, Norfolk Southern actually sent its work train and crew onto the old CN segment to replace ties and re-tamp ballast. The route of the weekly train also uses about 3/4 mile of the former Lake Shore and Southern Michigan right-of-way to get out of the rail yards here, because the last 4,000 feet of the CN tracks that used to curve around into Amtrak's Michigan Central Depot on the main line have been removed. I suppose the recent sale of the NS mainline here to the State of Michigan for High Speed Rail will not affect the steel mill trains. I believe NS has retained the freight business and trackage rights.

John Guidinger
Jackson, MI
8/12/2013

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The Cincinnati Northern Model Railroad Club is re-creating the southern half of the line, from Franklin to Van Wert, in HO scale. We welcome visitors on Tuesday evenings. Visit our club website (http://cincinnatinorthernrr.wordpress.com) for more information.

David Kullman
Oxford, OH
3/16/2014

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R. Ray - I looked up info about the wide bridges east of Convoy. All I could find was a 1961 Topographic map that showed the Pennsy having a double track mainline with at least one passing siding. There may have been two passing sidings for a total of four tracks. If there was a divergent track the map didn't have any evidence of it. You can find these maps on www.historicaerials.com. This is a great site for research as aerial photos and old topo maps can be accessed.

Brian S.
TROY, OH
6/17/2014

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There is a two mile portion still in use(original trackage)between Cecil Ohio(Used by the Maumee and Western RR), and runs two miles South to a gravel pit(track used for transporting tank cars of diesel fuel for excavating equipment just North of Paulding Ohio)along the old C&N right-of-way.

Martin Huffman
Bryan, Ohio
9/26/2014

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Familiar with the line from Jackson to Waldron , Mi. Esp. @ Cement City,Mi-crossing between LS&MS and CN. CN went overhead and interchanged here. Sometime in 1954- a "Last Fan trip" behind steam ran Jackson, MI - Bryan, Oh & return. Look up Cecil Hommerding 1954 on Google for 1 photo. Enjoy !

Eric Griswold
Canada
4/4/2015

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