Central Ohio Railroad (1853) Columbus & Cincinnati Midland Railroad (1884)
When I started to learn about railroads in the mid 1950's I quickly realized that there were two types of railfans - B&O railfans and everyone else. Somehow they just seemed more passionate about "THEIR RAILROAD!". While I have stayed a generalist I have learned enough to understand why the B&O has such faithful followers. It was the first railroad. It had a certain underdog appeal competing with the mighty Pennsy on the Washington-New York route. It had many fine passenger trains. Then there were the experimental steam locomotives and the P7 Presidential 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives. A true B&O fan would have no trouble adding to this list. Columbus was served by the B&O, but was not on one of its main routes. Columbus was on a Cincinnati - Pittsburgh secondary line that had, in 1955, one passenger train each way and generally less than 10 mixed freights each day. The B&O in Columbus had a freight house, a small yard, and a two stall engine house with a turntable all located on the west side of Fourth Street facing Naghten Street. There were generally three steam locomotives stationed at Columbus; a helper engine, Q-4, 2-8-2; an engine for the local, E-27ca 2-8-0; and a spare also an E-27ca. The spare was stored just south of the turntable. In the mid-1950's the B&O used EMD F units on their freights through Columbus. Eastbound freights would stop at Glenwood Avenue and West Broad Street. The steam helper would be attached and lead the freight through Columbus going around Union Station and up the hill to Summit, located east of Columbus. At Summit it would leave the train to return to the engine house. Donald Kaiser, an early contributor to columbusrailroads.com, was photographing at Summit one day and watched as the helper was uncoupled on the fly. The brakeman or fireman on the diesel opened the front door on the F unit and pulled the coupling pin. The helper speeded up to take a crossover leaving the freight to continue on its way. The passenger train through Columbus was steam powered until it was discontinued in 1955. During the last few years of trains #233 and #238 the B&O mainline passenger trains were being dieselized. This allowed the usual class P6 Pacific 4-6-2 to be replaced by a Presidential Class P7. That was a treat for the local railfans as those were the finest B&O passenger steam locomotives. The B&O was the first of the big five to totally eliminate passenger service through Columbus. In the late 1950's the City of Columbus needed some of the B&O property to connect the two parts of Third Street that were blocked by the railroad tracks at the Columbus Union Station area. The new Third Street went right through the B&O property eliminating the freight house. This occasioned a new Port Columbus yard across Fifth Avenue from the North American Aviation plant which opened October 1, 1959. The new facility included a small run through diesel shop.