Fictional History of the Cinci Central

Cinci Central Transport Group

Current Structure

Cinci Central Railway

Serving Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas.

Cincinnati Roanoke and Virginia Southern Railway

Serving Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Buckeye Heartland Railway

Providing Passenger Rail Service and Light Rail Service to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ontario

Cincinnati and Ohio Valley Railway

Serving Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia; focusing more on freight operations. Also operating some scenic and historical rail operations and restoration.

The 1870’s to 1940’s

The actual first railroad in the Cinci Family was the Ohio Valley and Western Railroad in 1870.

It was founded by the Gillis Family whom held the Ohio Valley Bank and Trust in Portsmouth. The railroad took three years to build and ran from Portsmouth to Cincinnati to the West. It also ran east from Portsmouth, down to Ashland, Ky. to Huntington, W.Va.

Shortly after, the Gillis Bros.; Casey and James, gathered investors to start a line to run between Columbus, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. Construction started in 1870, but did not finish until 1872 due to labor disputes.

They chose to call the railroad “The Columbus, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati Central Railway.”

Throughout the years, workers and passengers alike gave it a nickname. The Cinci Central.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that corporate executives decided to market the name.

The first shorten version of the name was dubbed “The Ohio-Indy Route”. It didn’t stick.

Then in 1912, an engineer working a crossword puzzle saw an anagram waiting to happen.

He wrote his copy of the Columbus Evening Journal, C for Columbus, IN for Indianapolis, and CI for Cincinnati. He noticed this from the abbreviations on the 4-4-2 steamer’s tender. “Col., Ind., and Cin.  Central.”

While the Cinci Central was trying to get an identity, a newborn road was starting up north.

The Baltimore and Ohio Columbus Division needed a branch line. They had already established connections with the Sandusky, Mansfield, and Newark Railway. They also needed a line connecting the towns of Marion, Mansfield, and Mt. Vernon. Thus the “3-M” line, The Marion, Mount Vernon and Mansfield Railroad was started in 1872.

Meanwhile, in the western end of Virginia; three men and a dream came together. The Bandy brothers, Jerry and Red, met with a banker from Bluefield,  West Virginia; Josiah W. Kennedy.

While the former coal miners knew nothing about starting a railroad; they were two of the first retirees from the Buchanan and Blue Ridge Coal Company (now part of Cinci Coal Properties). With their pension and the love for rail, the Bandy brothers and Mr. Kennedy wanted a rail line to reach Covington, Kentucky.

They named their company the Cincinnati, Roanoke and Virginia Western.

Through several decades the CR&VW had a love-hate relationship with bigger competitors, the Virginian Railway and the Norfolk and Western Railway.

 In 1927, prior to the great depression; The OV&W, the Cincinnati and Virginia Western, the 3-M Line, and Cincinnati Central company heads met in Columbus, Ohio.

 They decided on one of the first major mergers. They created the Cincinnati Central Railway System. Still operating their namesakes; they agreed to pool resources to run their locomotives. They had diesel and steam on the C&VW, steam on the OV&W, and steam, diesel and electric on the Cinci Central.

 Although a very rough time through the depression, the System kept jobs on the lines.  After the New Deal was passed during the FDR presidency in the late 30’s/early 40’s; new lines were built. They expanded the rail system as far as St.  Louis to the west, Toronto and Detroit to the north, Philadelphia to the east, and Atlanta to the south.

1945 to 1972

The Golden Age of the Cinci Central

The Cinci Central Great Trains

The Gateway Limited

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Cinci Central began a passenger train service from New York City to Cincinnati.

The train’s major stops were marketed as Gateways. New York (Gateway to the World), Pittsburgh (Gateway to Steel), and Cincinnati (Gateway to the South and the West). The train was co-owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It later expanded to St. Louis in the 1950’s.

 The 3-C Flyer

This was the premier way to travel between the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. The train debut actually as part as the original 3-M Line and the old Cincinnati Central. This also led the way to the rail lines merging in 1927.

 The train was originally called the Erie & Ohio River Limited. Pennsy had a hand in managing the route with shared trackage rights.

 State Route 3 had US Route 22 follow it in the south and US Route 62 in the central part of Ohio in 1932. In order for the newly formed Cincinnati Central Railway System to compete, the train was dubbed “the 3-C Flyer”.

It made crucial stops along the 3-C Rail Corridor to deliver US mail and packages through American Railway Express.

The train continued even into the 1970’s. When Amtrak asked Class 1 railroads to hand over passenger rail service; Southern Railway and CinciRail (the 1970’s moniker for Cinci Central) continued their passenger rail efforts. CinciRail thrived with their Buckeye Heartland passenger rail service.


Cincinnati Central Railway System; in 1972, reorganized itself to protect buyout interests by newly formed Conrail, Chessie System, and the N&W.

The Buckeye Heartland was solely maintaining passenger rail.

The OV & W and the C & VW merged operations to handle primary freight operations in the Mid Atlantic and South. They formed the Cincinnati Roanoke & Virginia Southern.

The 3-M Line and the Cinci Central merged operations to handle freight in the Midwest, the Ohio Valley, the Missouri and Illinois River regions.

Cincinnati Central from 1972 to 1990 was known by the moniker “CinciRail”.

Conrail tried several times not only to overthrow CinciRail, but sued them over copyright infringement for their name and logo.

It was not until 1990 that Conrail finally bury the hatchet; as it were. Conrail sold CinciRail several thousand miles of track and property.

These lines were actually former New York Central lines in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan; as well as interests in Ontario.

As of 1991, the Cinci Central name returned to the company identity. Locomotives and rail cars began their transformation to show the Cinci Central pride.

Modern Day Cinci Central

In 2008, Cinci Central bought former BNSF and Canadian National (former Illinois Central) lines to form the Great Lakes Heartland Railway. This line allows true transcontinental traffic reach to Washington State, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota. Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.

This entity was later absorbed back into CCRY.

At present, Cinci Central has partnered with the “modern” New York Central Railway System, Norfolk Southern, Genesee and Wyoming (Ohio Central Lines), and Southern Pacific Lines to maintain transcontinental traffic.

Main hubs for CCRY are Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Columbus (OH), Roanoke(VA), Norfolk, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Knoxville(TN), and Winston Salem. 

Former CSX/NS lines in southern Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia were reorganized into the Cincinnati and Ohio Valley Railway. It partnered with the Cincinnati Railway Company of Lebanon, Ohio to operate more scenic excursions and help do historical restorations in 2019.

Filed Under: Model RailroadsNews

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.