Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway (1926–30)

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Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway
Locale Ohio
Dates of operation 1926 (1926)–1930 (1930)
Predecessor Cincinnati and Dayton Traction Company
Successor Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway (CH&DRy) was an electric interurban railway that existed between 1926 and 1930 in the U.S. state of Ohio. It was absorbed in 1930 into the new Cincinnati and Lake Erie interurban railway. In typical interurban fashion, in open country it had its own right of way, although this was often adjacent and parallel to a road. In cities and towns it operated on city streets. This included two and three car freight/express trains as well as passenger cars.

Creation of the Cincinnati Hamilton and Dayton[edit]

In 1926, the former Cincinnati and Dayton Traction Company was reorganised under the new name Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton. The C&DTC right-of-way was part of the former Ohio Electric Railway's line between Dayton and Cincinnati. This new interurban company (which had no relationship with the steam railroad of the same name which eventually was absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad) was headed by a former Univ of Penn Wharton School professor of finance, Dr. Thomas Conway, Jr., who had already been successful in reviving the intrurban Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railroad. He ordered badly needed all steel interurban coaches [1] and box-motor express cars, freight cars, and spent heavily to improve track and right-of-way, although the rails laid within the brick streets of the cities and towns such as Dayton remained a maintenance problem and were a source of constant arguments with township administrations. Not only were the towns unhappy about who was to pay for repairs and snow removal, they complained about the 30 short tons (26.8 long tons; 27.2 t) 50 ft (15.24 m) long interurban cars mixing in with automobile traffic. Conway did well at building up the CH&D freight business utilizing his new interurban freight equipment which often was operated at night, and by virtue of his wide contacts in the railroad industry was more than ordinarily successful in establishing through rates for LCL (less-than-boxcar load freight) with some steam railroads, not an easy thing to accomplish. Conway believed that there was still a place for the interurban in the medium distance range of passenger traffic and long distance LBCL freight, and thus conceived the idea of the CH&D.

Corporate concerns[edit]

Three problems worried CH&D management: that the CH&D's neighboring interurban lines might stop running due to financial problems and break their vital freight interchange with the CH&D; that more and more towns were restricting the operation of freight trains over their streets to nighttime only; that interest payments on the very large bonded debt ($1.3 million) borrowed in 1926 could not be met. 1926 was a time when many people earned between $1000 and $2000 a year, and a good dinner could be purchased for fifty cents.

Expansion makes the CH&D become the C&LE[edit]

In 1930, just as the Great Depression was starting but no one knew how bad it would be, Conway purchased and merged his profitable CH&D with connecting interurbans Indiana, Columbus and Eastern, and the Lima-Toledo Railroad, to form the Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad. Conway borrowed even more money ($3.7 million in bonds and new corporate stock) and ordered more new equipment, including the innovative light weight high speed passenger car "Red Devils" from the Cincinnati Car Company.[2] This new line now connected Cincinnati in southern Ohio with Toledo in northern Ohio. With two other (vitally important) interurban connections at Toledo, it provided through interurban passenger and freight service to Cleveland (Lake Shore Electric) and to Detroit (Eastern Michigan Railway). The Red Devils operated directly from Cincinnati to Detroit for a while. The Cleveland run was the longest continuous and same equipment interurban freight service ever provided in the United States. Each year the C&LE shipped more freight, but the only year that the C&LE was profitable was 1936. The accelerating collapse of the American economy through the 1930s led to financial losses and a steady decline in operations. When the two essential connecting interurban lines at Toledo closed due to bankruptcy, the Detroit connection in 1932 and the Cleveland connection in 1938, the C&LE was doomed and abandoned in 1939.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Middleton, Wm: The Interurban Era, p. 148: excellent photograph of three new "100 class" Kuhlman Car Company 1926 built CH&D interurbans on a bridge
  2. ^ Middleton, Wm.: The Interurban Era, pp. 147-150 for photographs and history


  • Streetcar, Interurban, and Railroad Information. Retrieved on May 16, 2005.
  • The Official Guide to the Railways, January 1930 Edition: Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton.
  • Middleton, William. The Interurban Era, Kalmbach Publishing, Milwaukee, WI. 1969 (an excellent resource regarding 1910- 1950 interurbans in the United States and elsewhere. Over 400 pages, mostly photographs.)
  • Middleton, Wm. The Time of the Trolley, Kalmbach Publishing, Milwaukee. 1964
  • Rowsome, Frank Trolley Car Treasury
  • Hilton, George The Interurban Electric Railway in America, Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, CA. 2000(a scholarly discussion (405 pages) of the financing, construction, rolling stock, and electrical systems of interurbans as a business. Every U.S. interurban is listed and discussed. No photographs.)
  • Keenan, Jack "Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad," 226p, Golden West Books, 1974, Corona Del Mar, CA. (ISBN 0-87095-055-X)