Interurbans

Click to enlarge.
Columbus Delaware & Marion #501 freshly restored at the Ohio Railway Museum in the 1960's. #501 was one of two parlor cars built by the American Car & Foundry in 1926. They were nicknamed the "Red Birds", an elegant way to travel the Ohio country side. Photo by Clovis Butterworth

Columbus Interurbans - 1895-1939

        Columbus was a hub of interurban travel in the early twentieth century. A line to Westerville, built in 1895 was the first Columbus interurban.  Eight others soon followed. Most of the lines were gone by the early 1930's with only the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad lasting until 1939.  The various companies were constantly going through reorganization, purchase, merger and name change. The list of the nine original companies, that served Columbus, is found here with the barest of histories to get a start in the Columbus' interurban story.

        The Ohio interurban railroads map, selectable on the left, is from the 1906 Street Railway Journal.  The map illustrates the extensive, though not yet complete, interurban network that had developed in Ohio in just a few short years.  Ohio had more interurban mileage than any other state in the union.  

The Big Players

Columbus London & Springfield Railway- 1902-1939, Standard Gauge, 44 miles from Columbus to London, West Jefferson, and Springfield.  This line would be purchased several times evolving into the Indiana Columbus and Eastern Traction Company (1906), the Ohio  Electric (1907), the IC&ET again (1918) and finally the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad 1929-1939.

Columbus Buckeye Lake and Newark Traction Co.- 1902-1929, Standard Gauge, 34 miles from Columbus to  Reynoldsburg, Kirkersville, Hebron and Newark with a branch from Hebron to Buckeye Lake.  In 1904 the Columbus, Newark & Zanesville was built from Newark-Zanesville, 30 miles. It acquired the CBL&N in 1906.  It became part of the Ohio Electric in 1907 and back to CN&Z ownership in 1918.

Columbus Delaware & Marion Railway- 1903-1933, Standard Gauge, 50 miles long from Columbus to Worthington, Flint, Lewis Center, Stratford, Delaware, Radnor, Prospect, Owens, Marion and through its subsidiary Bucyrus.

Scioto Valley Traction Company- 1904-1930, Standard Gauge - third rail, 47 miles long from Columbus to Valley Crossing, Obetz Junction, Lockbourne, Circleville, and Chillicothe with a 24 mile branch from Obetz Junction to Groveport, Canal Winchester, and Lancaster.

The Small Players

Columbus Grove City and Southwestern- 1898-1922, Standard Gauge, 15 miles from Columbus to Grove City and Orient.    The line would become part of the Indiana Columbus and Eastern Traction Company (1906), the Ohio Electric(1907), the IC&ET again (1918).

Columbus Urbana & Western Railway- 1903-1925, Standard Gauge, 9 miles long from Columbus to Fishinger's Bridge.

Lines Purchased by the Columbus Streetcar Company

Columbus Central Railway- 1895-1900 [estimated] when the line was sold to the Columbus Railway & Light Co.  Wide gauge (5' 2"), about 11 miles long from Columbus to Minerva Park and Westerville. Service to Westerville was abandoned in 1929.

Columbus New Albany and Johnstown Traction Company- 1901-1923 when it was sold to the Columbus Railway Power & Light Co.  Wide gage (5' 2"), 6 miles long from Columbus to Shepard, Ralston Steel Car Co. and Gahanna.  Service to Gahanna was abandoned in 1928.

A Privately Owned Line

Ohio & Southern Traction Company- 1907-1929, Standard Gauge, 6.8 miles from Columbus to the Hartman Stock Farm and Shadeville.  Privately owned by Dr. Samuel B. Hartman.