Connersville to Brookville
Note: Some of this information was drawn from the Whitewater Valley Railroad Museum.
By the early 1850s, railroads were eclipsing canal technology in the U.S. Railroads were not only cheaper to build and maintain, they were considerably more versatile than canals. Rail lines were not restricted to circuitous water-level routes or dependent on erratic rivers like their canal counterparts. And transportation by railroad was much faster than by canal, which was restricted to a walking pace. Indeed, the railroad seemed to offer everything canals could not. Unable to compete, most of the country's canals eventually succumbed to the ever expanding railroad network.
By 1855, the struggling Whitewater Valley Canal Company was in the hands of a receiver and by the early 1860s the canal could no longer support reliable navigation. In 1865, the Whitewater Valley Railroad acquired the canal at auction, and two years later it laid its tracks over the towpath of the Cincinnati & Whitewater Canal from Valley Junction, Ohio to Harrison, then over the towpath of the Whitewater Canal from West Harrison, Indiana to Hagerstown.
Though never a major trunk line, the Whitewater Valley Railroad served its customers well. It linked communities like Metamora and Brookville to a vast network of rail lines that, by 1869, spanned the continent from coast to coast.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad, however, soon found itself in financial trouble. In 1890 it leased itself to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad--better known as the "Big Four." In 1930 , the Big Four was incorporated into its parent company, the New York Central. In 1933, the New York Central terminated passenger service on the Whitewater Valley line--a decision that reflected the ever increasing popularity of the private automobile. By 1932, one could drive on the new U.S. 52, which continues to parallel the old canal route from Metamora to Harrison.
In 1968, the merger of the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads brought the Whitewater Valley route under control of the Penn Central. Freight operations over the line between Connersville and Brookville came to an end in 1972. The non-profit Whitewater Valley Railroad then leased the line between Connersville and Brookville from Penn Central for excursion purposes.
In 1974, a section of track between Metamora and Brookville washed out. Having decided to not fix the damaged track, Penn Central abandoned five miles of track between the north end of Brookville and about two miles south of Metamora. In 1983, the Whitewater Valley Railroad Museum purchased the Connersville to Metamora track from Penn Central. Whitewater Valley Railroad Museum continues to operate passenger excursions to the end of the track south of Metamora.
Today, the Whitewater Canal Trail occupies much of the abandoned Penn Central roadbed (formerly canal towpath) from Metamora to the Twin Locks, and again at Yellow Bank Creek. The Indiana & Ohio Railroad continues to service Owens Corning at Brookville via the old canal route between Brookville and Valley Junction, Ohio.
Thanks to Howard E. Espravnik for contributing information.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad is a operating Museum between
Connersville IN and Metamora IN with stops in Laurel In
contact - whitewatervalleyrailroad,org
One point. The change to rail from canal was not as simple ts this history portrays. The Ohio canal section (Cincinnati And Whitewater Canal) was railroaded in 1864 but the Indiana section took longer to get clear title to and the rails were not laid there till after 1866. In other words it was more complicated than described.
Glad to see somebody is putting my graduate thesis to work, but I'd appreciate the credit for it. This information was lifted straight from The Whitewater Canal: A Historic Corridor Guide by Donald Burden, 2006. Ball State published the thesis. And to Ed Hollowell, this write-up was merely intended as a brief summary of the transition from canal to railroad. As you state, the Cincinnati & Whitewater Canal received rails first, followed by the WWC in 67 and 68. It is a rather complex story.
In the 1980's Railway Exposition Corporation, a non-profit museum, proosed to operate trains between Brookville and Cedar Grove to the south. They had a Louisiana and Arkansas ten-wheeler, a Kansas City Southern Stuart Knott sleeper, and a n L&N tavern Lounge car, as well as a Brookville Industrial switcher and a caboose or two. The line was to be named Cedar Gove, Brookville and Northern. Another proposed and stillborn line in Ohio, Cincinnati, Morrow and Little Miami never materialized as a tourist line, and tracks were torn up, and part is a bicycle trail.
This line never came to pass. There had been a partial washout of a bridge near Cedar Grove. Had the line not washed out east of Metamora, perhaps they could connect with Whitewater Valley.
Whitewater valley did add about a mile to their run when they buit a Grand Central Station in downtown Connersville.
A depot has been moved south of Connersville, and Dearborn Tower has been moved there and is being restored.
Railway Exposition Company museum eventually located in Kentucky.