Brief History: The original Cincinnati Northern Railroad Company was organized in 1897 to take over and operate the Ohio Division of the Cincinnati Jackson and Mackinaw Railway Company from Franklin, Ohio, to Addison Junction, Michigan, and the Jackson and Cincinnati Railroad Company from Addison Junction to Jackson, Michigan. The combined mileage of these two properties was 208 miles. The Cincinnati Northern Railroad entered Cincinnati via trackage rights over the Cincinnati Lebanon and Northern Railway. Headquarters and shops were in Van Wert, Ohio.
In 1902 the New York Central gained control of the Cincinnati Northern and leased it to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (Big Four), a NYC subsidiary. This arrangement lasted until 1938, when the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway was consolidated into the parent NYC. The last (Conrail) train on this line ran in 1977.
Although most of the line has been abandoned, a few short pieces of former Cincinnati Northern track are still in use at Germantown, between Greenville and Ansonia, at Van Wert, Bryan, and Cecil in Ohio, and at Jackson, Michigan.
Access into Cincinnati In its early years the Cincinnati Northern had access to Cincinnati via Hagman Junction between Mason and Lebanon on U.S. 42; then via Mason, Blue Ash, Norwood, and a tunnel that is now under I-71, to a terminal at the site of the new casino. Today the line that was used crosses Dixie Highway south of the Middletown AK Steel plant and runs past the flea markets on I-75. It joined the CL&N at Hagman Junction.
Frank Drake, receiver for the Cincinnati Jackson & Mackinaw RR (the Cincinnati Northern Railroad predecessor), says that on Jan 1, 1896, an independent entrance into Cincinnati was obtained under trackage contracts over the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway from Franklin to Middletown; the M&C Ry from Middletown to Hageman; and the CL&N from Hageman to Cincinnati.
John W. Hauck, in his book titled Narrow Gauge in Ohio: A history of the CL&N Ry, says that in late Dec 1895, Calvin Bryce, representing the syndicate that controlled the CJ&M, secured freight and passenger rights over the CL&N. On Jan 27, 1896, CJ&M began morning and evening expresses out of the CL&N Court Street station to Hageman, the M&C to Middletown, and the CCC&StL to Franklin. Freight trains of 25-30 cars were doubled up the hill from Court Street to Pleasant Ridge. Also, at some point here the name was changed to Cincinnati Northern. After the Cincinnati Northern became a part of the New York Central, they had trackage rights into Cincinnati over the Big Four.
For the model railroad, we are using our modeler’s license (i.e. fiction) to pretend that the Cincinnati Northern Railroad, instead of being absorbed into the Big Four, merged with the CL&N to gain entrance into Cincinnati. From there we are supposing a connection to a “southern” road with coal access in southeastern Kentucky. This scenario, although fictitious, is plausible because the syndicate, representing Eastern money, planned to use the Cincinnati Northern Railroad as the connector between properties it hoped to buy in Michigan and in the South. They had tried to buy the CL&N to complete their Ohio line, but were unsuccessful, so they developed plans to build their own line.