As long as there were passenger train services through Columbus there were train excursions; employee picnic specials, trips to sporting events and the Ohio State fair, trips to conventions, the list is endless. The Columbus dispatch and Ohio State Journal newspapers sponsored many train trips for their newsboys, often to Cleveland for sports events.
Starting around the time of the Second World War railfan groups began sponsoring rail excursions. The Central Ohio Railfans' Association (CORA) under the leadership of Nick Underwood was one of those sponsors. The National Association of Railway Business Women was another sponsor. In the 1960s the Ohio Railway Museum would sponsor trips as a way to raise money for the museum. The ORM excursions included trips to Cedar Point, Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV and Detroit.
The C&O and B&O were especially willing to handle rail excursions. The C&O Hocking Valley line through southern Ohio was a favorite route.
Here is a sample of advertising material and train day handouts from some of those excursions. Also included are two trips that did not come to Columbus but had significance for Columbus railfans.*
July 1938 - Ohio Public Service, Toledo - Marble Head
July 1947 - C&SOE Co., Columbus Streetcar lines
June 1949 - N&W/OMP&L Co., Columbus - Obetz Jct. & Pickway Power Plant
September 1950 - Milwaukee Speed Rail, Milwaukee - Hales Corners
Circa 1950 - Chesapeake & Ohio, Columbus - Marion, Erie's diesel shops
May 1951 - C&O, Columbus - Jackson, OH, Hocking Division
October 1951, Columbus - Gallipolis, Hocking Division
October 1953 - B&O, Columbus - Zanesville
September 1964 -C&O, Columbus - Huntington, WV
February 1965 - C&O, Columbus - White Sulphur Springs, WV (The Greenbrier)
* The 1938 trip on the Ohio Public Service interurban between Toledo and Marble Head using Wooden interurban #21 was significant for Columbus railfans. After WW II the car would come to Columbus and be the seed for the Ohio Railway Museum.
In 1950 several Columbus railfans traveled to Milwaukee for the National Model Railroaders' Association convention which included a ride on the Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speed Rail line. It was on that railfan trip that two interurban cars collided head on near Hales Corners. One of the Columbus railfans Harold Durflinger was filming out the front window of one of the cars when the second car came into view. He jumped at the last minute. While injured he surely would have been killed if he had stayed with the car.
The wreck precipitated the end of the Speed Rail Line. After the interurban line was abandoned the president, Jay Maeder, gave to the ORM Kansas City Birney streetcar #1545. #1545 was a fun car to operate a real four wheel Toonerville trolley.