Mallet Engines on the Saltville Branch - When?

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sun Oct 10 18:12:03 EDT 2004

Mr. Burnett:  The answer to your question about Mallets on the Saltville
Branch may not be entirely a question about when the bridges were
upgraded but what facilities were available to turn the locomotives.


The Peavine, the Cincinnati, District, used the 2-8-0's and the M's and
M-1's for freight and G classes for local terminal work in the
Cincinnati area.  Passenger engines were the 4-6-0 classes and the early
4-4-2 J class was used, too.  In 1924, the line was upgraded with
stronger bridges and RoW.  At this time the E and Z classes could be
used on the line.  However the passenger locomotives were maintained by
the PRR at Idlewild on the CL&N, in the earlier days, and at the main
PRR loco facility at Pendleton, west of their Undercliff Yard.  Freight
power was serviced at Clare.  Both Pendleton and Clare has 75 foot
turntables, Idlewild had none, and no wye either! (Pendleton used the
wye formed by the junction of their Little Miami line and the Cincinnati
& Richmond line just to the west of Clare Yard when necessary.)


In 1935, a larger wye was constructed east of Clare Yard across the
Little Miami River and Clear Creek between Clear Creek and the Newtown,
Ohio Station. This was large/long enough to turn a Y Class or A class
locomotive.  The wye was long enough to turn these with A-tanks, but I
do not know if the original track was sufficiently long or was extended
in the 1950's for this purpose.  After the wye was completed, Y-2's and
Y-3's were used on the line, with Y-2's going into transfer service in
the terminal area.  


Before anyone asks, the arrangement between the N&W and the Cincinnati,
Lebanon and Northern (CL&N) goes back to the origins of the Cincinnati &
Eastern (pre-N&W) and the Cincinnati Northern (pre- Cincinnati, Lebanon
& Northern and Pre- PRR) in 1878-1881 time period when both were narrow
gauge.  As both were latecomers to the Cincinnati area, they both had
poor opportunities to get into downtown Cincinnati.  The C&E's best
route connected to the CL&N at Idlewild (near today's Xavier University)
up above Cincinnati on the hills near the towns-to-be of Evanston and
Norwood.  The CL&N was poorer than the dirt-poor C&E and did not build
down the hill to downtown Cincinnati (where the paying customers were)
until 1881.  The C&E at that time had small shops in Newtown, Ohio, some
11 miles away from Cincinnati before they moved them to Portsmouth, Ohio
in 1883.  The CL&N first built northward toward Lebanon, Ohio where the
going was cheaper for line construction.  Consequently, the CL&N had as
its southern terminus the location of Idlewild with modest shops and
servicing facilities there.  After the difficult line down Deer Creek
Valley ( where I-17 is today) was built, the C&E  would run passenger
trains down the CL&N trackage to the CL&N's Court Street Station on the
east side of downtown Cincinnati.  


So the C&E arranged to have the CL&N take care of light servicing of the
C&E passenger locomotives and cars at Idlewild while all freight
equipment was serviced in Portsmouth.  


It gets messy now as the C&E endeavored to move to standard gauge in the
1885-1887 timeframe and did it a number of times as fortune waxed and
waned.  When standard gauge, the C&E could not use the 3 foot CL&N, so
they arranged to go into town on the PRR tracks along the Ohio River to
the Panhandle depot at Pearl and Butler (now Second and Eggleston or
properly Pete Rose Way) on the river front.  Unfortunately the C&E was
forced to re-gauge a number of times, back-and-forth.  The result was
that the passenger trains terminated at either of the two locations at
different times.


In 1887, the C&E collapses for the last time and a new group takes over
forming the Ohio & Northwestern, later to become the refinanced
Cincinnati, Portsmouth & Virginia.  The O&NW eventually forced the CL&N
to dual gauge the tracks down to Court Street so that the O&NW can get
away from expensive operations on the PRR.  The O&NW continues to have
the CL&N service the cars and passenger locomotives at Idlewild.


Then the O&NW and later the CP&V operate Pullman sleeper cars in new
passenger train service. As the only servicing for Pullmans could be
done at the PRR shops near the Panhandle depot, the O&NW and the CP&V
send those trains to the PRR.


So two types of passenger trains evolve on the O&NW and CP&V. Locals or
accommodation trains that mimicked the old trains and schedules of the
C&E starting at Court Street and going eastward to Idlewild and getting
on to their own tracks there; then long-distance trains with sleepers
and mail that originate at the PRR Panhandle depot that get on to their
tracks near Clare Yard (which hasn't been built yet!)  In both cases the
O&NW and the CP&V do not service their passenger equipment at their west


When the N&W buys the CP&V in 1901, they continue to use this
arrangement until the early 1920's when the accommodation trains
disappear from the schedule as the local commuter takes to the street
car or his own automobile.  The N&W constructs Clare Yard, starting in
1901, and builds a freight yard and locomotive shops for the freight
locomotives there.  But, from 1901 to 1972, Clare is not intended to
service passenger trains or their locomotives.  All of this was done
over at Cincinnati Union Terminal after 1933 or Pendleton or based on
the early arrangement, Idlewild.


There is in the Virginia Tech collection a shot of Idlewild Junction and
two CL&N locomotives and N&W locomotives standing on either side of the
Idlewild Station, built and owned by the N&W.


As best as I can determine, in the pre-1900 period , the CL&N had only
the most rudimentary facilities at Idlewild for servicing their
equipment and the predecessor N&W lines with no roundhouse, servicing
sheds or whatever.  Idlewild in those days was well out into the
countryside.  Both the CL&N and the C&E would run their passenger trains
down to Court Street Station in the early morning in the mode of
commuter train operating style.  The C&E timed their train to leave
Batavia, Ohio, 25 miles away, to get to downtown at an early morning
time so that a commuter could get to work in downtown Cincinnati.  The
CL&N did likewise with their line to Blue Ash and Mason.  Funny, the
area is seriously contemplating light rail service mimicking these
earlier trains.


G Rolih, Cincinnati 


ps. See John Haucks' "Narrow Gauge Railroads in Ohio" for the history of
the CL&N and the involvement of the N&W.  This book is out-of-print but
can be found in the Archives and in used book sales.  Some local
Cincinnati libraries carry this book as well.  

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