The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway 1868–1980


Map Code: Ax01994

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, (C&O) was the result of the merger of several Virginian railroads. Its major shareholder, Collis Potter Huntington, had already invested in the Central Pacific Railroad and wanted an eastern connection to create a transcontinental railroad. Construction began in 1869–73, with new tracks laid in coal-rich West Virginia, enabling the C&O to transport bituminous coal from the region. The plan was to connect West Virginia to the Great Lakes (completed in 1927) but in 1873 construction halted at Huntington, the railroad town named after the shareholder, due to lack of funds. By 1888, Huntington had lost his majority state, but had linked Ashland-Lexington, Kentucky. New management improved the stock, tracks, tunnels and bridges. Over time, there were further mergers and different controlling interests, but C&O continued its expansion. The company was also a passenger line and became famous for Chessie, a kitten (‘sleep like a kitten’) used to market its sleeper-trains. It became the CSX Corporation in 1980.

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