Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jun 26

From Railroad to Trail: The Little Miami Railroad

Posted on June 26, 2020 at 1:51 PM by Melissa Dalton

While going through some Parks & Trails boxes, Robin ran across a photograph of the painting of the Xenia Station housed at the Greene County Ohio Historical Society (Fig 1). According to the information sheet included with the photograph, the painter is unknown, but it is estimated that it was likely painted around 1848 due to the number of stars on the flag in the painting. As I looked at this photograph, I realized that although we have mentioned the Little Miami Railroad (LMRR) in other blogs, we haven’t truly discussed its history. This week, we explore the railroad that became a scenic trail!

Fig 1. The Xenia, Ohio Depot in 1848 (JPG)
Fig 1. The Xenia, Ohio Depot in 1848 (Greene County Ohio Historical Society)

The Little Miami Railroad had its beginning in March 1836 when the state legislature granted it a charter, making it the second railroad in Ohio. The line would run from Cincinnati to Springfield (roughly 80 miles), and would create connections to other railroad lines. The LMRR construction began in 1837 and was completed in 1848, and the line came through Xenia along Detroit Street (Fig 2). Various landowners transferred property and right-of-way to the line, which allowed for the railroad to grow.

Fig 2. Xenia City 2nd Ward, 1873 (JPG)
Fig 2. Xenia City 2nd Ward, 1873 (Greene County Archives, Engineer Map)

Xenia became a major hub as railroads grew, and several lines ran through the city: Columbus & Xenia (C&X), Baltimore & Ohio (B&O), Dayton, Xenia & Belpre (DX&B), and Little Miami (LMRR). The lines converged along Miami Street in the south side of town (Fig 3). At this junction, a depot was constructed, dubbed Xenia Station. According to Joan Baxter, the LMRR also had its own depot along Detroit Street near Second Street, on property donated by James Gowdy in the 1840s (Fig 4).

Fig 3. 1843 Tax Duplicate showing transfer of property to Little Miami Railroad Company (JPG)Fig 3. 1843 Tax Duplicate showing transfer of property to Little Miami Railroad Company (JPG)
Fig 3. 1844 Tax Duplicate showing transfer of property to Little Miami Railroad Company (JPG)Fig 3. 1844 Tax Duplicate showing transfer of property to Little Miami Railroad Company (JPG)
Fig 3. 1843 & 1844 Tax Duplicates showing transfer of property to Little Miami Railroad Company (Greene County Archives)

Fig 4. Xenia City 5th Ward, 1873 (JPG)
Fig 4. Xenia City 5th Ward, 1873 (Greene County Archives, Engineer Map)

After the Civil War, many small railroad lines faced fierce competition from larger companies, as well as financial issues, and many ultimately leased lines or were absorbed into the larger companies. The LMRR was not immune to this trend. By 1870, LMRR leased most of its line to the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), with a lease term of 99 years, and the lease was renewed in 1968, becoming a secondary line of PRR.

The 1970s witnessed a great decline in the use of railroads, and many stopped running. As the railroads went out of favor, there was a new initiative to repurpose the lines. By the 1980s, there was a push to create a Rails-to-Trails corridor using the LMRR line (Fig 5). Ed Dressler, Director of Greene County Recreation & Parks (now Parks & Trails) worked fervently to make Xenia the main hub, and was successful in that endeavor (if you would like to learn more about the Rails-to-Trails initiative, listen to Ed’s oral history!) (Fig 6). The Hub is located in Xenia and a replica of Xenia Station depot was constructed near the original location, and was dedicated in 1998 (Fig 7).

Fig 5. Abandoned Little Miami Railroad, 1987 (JPG)
Fig 5. Abandoned Little Miami Railroad, 1987 (Greene County Parks & Trails)

Fig 6. Xenia Station Concept Plan (JPG)
Fig 6. Xenia Station Concept Plan (Greene County Parks & Trails)

Fig 7. Xenia Station, June 1998 (JPG)
Fig 7. Xenia Station, June 1998 (Greene County Parks & Trails)

Today, the LMRR is now the Little Miami Scenic Trail, spanning 78 miles through five counties and two state parks. Get out and enjoy it today!

Until Next Time!

Sources:
City of Xenia
Greene County Archives
Greene County Ohio Historical Society
Greene County Parks & Trails
Ohio History Connection

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