Little Miami Scenic Trail History

Ohio

At a Glance

Name: Little Miami Scenic Trail
Length: 78.1 Miles
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing
Counties: Clark, Clermont, Greene, Hamilton, Warren
Surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
State: Ohio

A Brief History

While you may not realize it, the popular Little Miami Scenic Trail maintains the same name as the railroad that originally built the corridor. The Little Miami Railroad (LMRR) was once one of Ohio’s first chartered lines and instrumental in opening the state to future economic opportunities during the mid-19th century. At the time, there were no roads or transportation arteries of any type besides waterways. Unfortunately, the north-to-south business advantages the LMRR hoped to reap from connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River disappeared after railroads began arriving in Ohio from the East, looking to establish through-corridors east to west. Much more attractive, these lines eventually proved to be the preferred routes, and the LMRR became a second-tier railroad. Still, the road had advantages and was later acquired by the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway, a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary, during the early 1870s. Following the Penn Central collapse in the 1970s, Conrail acquired the LMRR route and soon after abandoned and lifted.

Early railroad projects like the LMRR were often difficult to realize simply because acquiring the needed capital and financing was difficult. Because of the industry’s infancy and uncertainty at the time, few would back such risky projects, and in the case of the LMRR, this included Ohio itself. Despite the misgivings, the state eventually supported the project and granted a charter for the Little Miami Railroad on March 11, 1836—the state’s second such company behind the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad (MR&LE) of January 5, 1832. The two lines would, interestingly enough, become closely aligned in attempting to connect Ohio’s Lake Erie with the Ohio River. The builders’ intent with the LMRR was to construct a line north from Cincinnati and connect to the MR&LE (which was attempting to construct a line south from Sandusky along the lake) at Springfield via Xenia. Unfortunately, officials of the MR&LE had much more difficulty than the LMRR in obtaining funding and selling bonds for the proposed connection to Springfield.

By 1837, the LMRR began grading north from Cincinnati (where the right-of-way went due east 5 miles along the Ohio River before turning north and following the Little Miami River) and south from Xenia. On December 14, 1841, the LMRR opened its first 15 miles from Cincinnati to Milford; by mid-winter of 1842, the railroad had reached Fosters. This first section of the line used wooden strap rails to reduce costs but was soon upgraded to solid iron within a year. By 1843, the company’s first depot was in service at Pendleton (now part of Cincinnati), and it had also reached Loveland, giving it 25 miles of operational railroad. Construction proceeded quickly at this point; by August 1845, the entire 65-mile line to Xenia was open for service. A year later, the LMRR had opened the final 19.2 miles north to Springfield and the proposed connection with the MR&LE.

Unfortunately, that railroad was still struggling to come up with funding, which caused LMRR officials to look for another, more promising, terminus. This would come by way of the Columbus & Xenia Railroad (C&X), which connected its namesake cities by 1849 and opened for service on February 20, 1850. The C&X and LMRR soon after merged operations but remained separate entities. The long-sought connection with the MR&LE finally occurred in 1849, and the state now had an important transportation connection with two of its primary water routes. Unfortunately for the two railroads, the benefits of the new corridor were short-lived. In 1850, the Hillsboro & Cincinnati Railroad opened between its namesake cities and was later acquired by the Marietta & Cincinnati (M&C). The M&C became part of the growing Baltimore & Ohio, a major eastern trunk line that used the route as part of its main line to St. Louis via Cincinnati. Following the B&O was the Pennsylvania (PRR) and New York Central railroads, which likewise acquired smaller systems across Ohio to reach Chicago and St. Louis. For the C&X and LMRR, both companies were leased to the Pittsburg, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway (PC&StL) as of February 23, 1870, itself a subsidiary of the PRR.

Interestingly, the Little Miami Railroad, despite being merely a secondary branch line on the PRR for most of its existence, always remained an operating entity on paper. During these years the LMRR, which now makes up the Little Miami Scenic Trail, was often listed as part of the Cincinnati Division. However, changes began in 1939 when the northern segment between Xenia and Springfield was reclassified as part of the Columbus Division. This time also marked the line’s peak period of traffic when passenger and freight trains numbered two dozen in a single day. However, after World War II, passenger service ended over the route. In late 1955, the line was again reclassified when the Cincinnati Division was abolished and renamed the Buckeye Division. In 1964, it became known officially as the Cincinnati & Xenia Branch and, following the Penn Central merger of 1968, was called the Cincinnati & Xenia Branch, Cincinnati Division, Southern Region.

By this time, traffic was in severe decline, and the PC began rerouting most remaining trains over the superior former New York Central line between Cincinnati and Columbus. By the time PC fell into bankruptcy during 1970, the branch saw little use. Following the creation of the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) in 1976, the new owner wasted no time in abandoning the route and began pulling up the rails south of Spring Valley (near Xenia) that year on July 29. During the early 1980s, the Ohio Department of Transportation purchased the corridor and began converting it into today’s Little Miami Scenic Trail, which now stretches 78 miles from Terrace Park outside of Cincinnati to Springfield’s West Jefferson Street.

Railroad attractions near the trial include the Bradford Railroad Museum in Bradford; Cincinnati Railway Company (offering various types of excursion train rides); Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad in Nelsonville; and the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington.

Do you have Historical Photos of the Little Miami Scenic Trail?
Share with TrailLink!

Nearby Trails

Ohio to Erie Trail

Ohio - 271.9 miles

The Ohio to Erie Trail is a colossal project, not just for the state of Ohio but also nationally. Dreamed up more than 25 years ago, this route will...

Fairfax Bike Trail

Ohio - 1.5 miles

The Fairfax Trail is 1.5 miles long and parallels the north side of Murray Ave, between Settle Street and Red Bank Road. The Murray Road portion...

Armleder Park Trail

Ohio - 2 miles

The Armleder Park Trail loops along a wide, paved route through the open meadows of the park, located east of Cincinnati. At the southeast end, you'll...

Accordion

Lunken Airport Bike Path

Ohio - 5 miles

The Lunken Airport Bike Path offers a 5-mile loop around Cincinnati's municipal Lunken Airport. Much of the trail sits atop the levee that protects...

Ohio River Trail (OH)

Ohio - 7.6 miles

When complete, the Ohio River Trail in eastern Cincinnati will be an important 23-mile connector between downtown, riverfront parks, the city's...

Wasson Way

Ohio - 0.6 miles

The first section of the developing Wasson Way trail opened in 2018 in the eastern Cincinnati neighborhood of Hyde Park. Although less than a mile,...

Newport Southbank Bridge (Purple People Bridge)

Kentucky - 0.5 miles

The Newport Southbank Bridge, commonly known as the Purple People Bridge due to its unique paint scheme, links the large Ohio city of Cincinnati with...

Mill Creek Greenway Trail

Ohio - 3 miles

The growing Mill Creek Greenway Trail follows one of Cincinnati’s most important urban waterways and will one day stretch 14 miles through the city's...

Sharon Woods Loop Trail

Ohio - 2.6 miles

The Sharon Woods Loop Trail encircles a picturesque lake in popular Sharon Woods in Sharonville. The county park offers a visitor center, boathouse,...

Williamsburg to Batavia Hike/Bike Trail

Ohio - 5.4 miles

The Williamsburg to Batavia Hike/Bike Trail connects its two namesake communities on a paved route that winds through East Fork Wildlife Area and...

Lebanon Countryside YMCA Trail

Ohio - 8.2 miles

The Lebanon Countryside YMCA Trail offers 8 miles of paved pathway winding through Lebanon, from downtown to a connection to the 78-mile Little Miami...

Great Miami River Trail

Ohio - 86.2 miles

The Great Miami River Trail is the backbone of one of the nation’s largest paved trail networks, spanning 340 miles throughout Ohio’s Miami Valley....

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google

OR

Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google

OR