Introduction

There is no known "official" history of Darrtown. The best we have to work with are the Darrtown-related articles, journals, and/or stories that are handed down from one generation to the next. This "History" section of Darrtown.com provides an unofficial, well-intentioned, collection of such information.

 

Some items, in this website, conflict with others; such is the lot of those who attempt to capture history. We gather as many pieces of the puzzle as we can, position them to the best of our ability, and a more accurate record of the past gradually evolves.

 

If you have information that enriches this collection of Darrtown-related history and/or makes it more accurate, please contact the Webmaster.

"History never looks like history,

when you are living through it."

John W. Gardner (1933-1982)

Four Mile Valley Railroad

                      "Yes, Virginia, There Really Was a Railroad Planned For Darrtown"

 

If you "Google" the phrase, "Yes, Virginia," then you will likely access a story about a newspaper editor's response to a young girl who questioned whether Santa Claus was real.

 

In a similar fashion, we can now report: "Yes, there really were plans to build a railroad that would pass through Darrtown."

 

For years, older generations, that were familiar with Darrtown lore, told younger generations about the railroad that was to be built and run through Darrtown. The story-tellers would cite the "levee-type" land formation south of town, as proof that the story was true.

 

Now, recorded history substantiates the legend! There REALLY WERE plans to build a railroad that would pass through Darrtown.

 

Research findings appear below.

Four Mile Valley Railroad Incorporated

 

SOURCE: Oxford News on August 23, 1976 (Vol. 1, No. 23)

 

"As early as 1835, Oxford citizens were proposing a railroad to Cincinnati, by way of Hamilton and on March 12, 1849, the Four Mile Valley Railroad was incorporated and officially organized in 1851, with Peter P. Bailey of Ft. Wayne, Ind., as President, and S. H. Mollyneaux, of Oxford, as Secretary and Treasurer.

 

Two years later, the Four Mile Valley merged with the Cincinnati-Ft. Wayne Railroad, and with more than $450,000 subscribed, the Directors recommended that work be started at once.

 

Grading with picks, shovels, scoops, wheelbarrows, and horse carts was begun south of Fairhaven, east of Oxford, and southeast of Darrtown, where remnants of the level-bed levee can still be seen running almost parallel to Route 177, just east of the highway at the south end of Darrtown.

 

But, the Four MIle Valley railroad died from a lack of funds and an abundance of stiff competition."

Two-part Newspaper Column Provides More Darrtown-related Railroad History

Webmaster Notes: A two-part summary of the Miami Valley Railroad was found in a "Butler County History" column, written by Alta Harvey Heiser, which was (apparently) published on a weekly basis in the Hamilton Journal Daily News during the 1950's.

 

The story about the Four Mile Railroad appeared in two editions; the first on December 16, 1954 and the second on December 22, 1954.

 

The December 16 column began with a discussion of Butler County (Ohio) waterways and then shifted to a review of railways; with particular attention given to the Four Mile Valley Railroad. Only the railroad portion of the December 16, 1954 article appears below. The December 22 column appears in its entirety.

 

FROM THE DECEMBER 16, 1954 HAMILTON JOURNAL DAILY NEWS

 

"Butler County History…by Alta Harvey Heiser

 

John Crane's Map of 1855 Shows Present Butler County, Streams And How Course of Miami River Changed By Flood; Many Millraces Constructed In Early Days' First Bridge; Destroyed In 1866

 

The railroads on Mr. Crane's [1] map [2] provide another interesting study. The old CH&D, [3] the Junction, [4] and the Hamilton and Eaton are, as we know them, under different names. The first two are now Baltimore and Ohio and the third is the Pennsylvania. But, the 'Four Mile Valley Railroad' certainly looks like the real thing and shows that, as late as 1855, its promoters had not given up hope.

 

Railroad Fever

 

Having caught the railroad fever at this time, many groups of men were proposing to project lines westward. One such, starting from Cincinnati, is shown cutting across the southwest corner of the county, through Venice, touching a corner of Morgan Township, before crossing Reily Township, on its way to Chicago! A road was built down that way later, but did not touch Venice.

 

Other than this, most of the lines expected to connect with the CH&D at Hamilton. One of the earliest of these was the Four Mile Valley Railroad, shone as a completed project on our map! It branched off from the CH&D, just above High Street, was built right over the hydraulic to the river, where it crossed on a bridge of imaginary magnificence. Unable to crowd in at the foot of the hills on the west side, it made a wide curve over the C St., at Two Mile Creek, then followed the river to Four Mile. It closely followed the bank of the creek to where this turned westward, crossing the creek every few miles, rather than to try to follow its many bends. Then, turning north of west, it passed south of Darrtown, [5] went west a couple of miles, before making a broad curve to touch Oxford, as far as possible from the Junction Line. Turning north it disappeared over the line into Preble County.

 

In May of 1849, William Kennedy of Oxford wrote to John Woods that the "Board of Commissioners of the Four Mile Valley Railroad Co." would meet in Hamilton on June 4 and start next morning to examine their contemplated line preparatory to a survey of same. He asked to have Mr. Jaques, engineer from the Hamilton and Cincinnati railroad (not yet organized as the CH&D) join them as advisory engineer."

 

 

FROM THE DECEMBER 22, 1954 HAMILTON JOURNAL DAILY NEWS

 

"Butler County History

By Alta Harvey Heiser

 

Work On Four Mile Valley Railroad Never Completed; Had Planned Tunnel Under Ridge On Beissinger Rd. To Save Three Miles; Assistance Of State Auditor Sought, By Dr. A. Porter

 

Last week, we told that, in May 1849, William Kennedy of Oxford asked to have the engineer [1a] for the Hamilton and Cincinnati railroad join the men interested in having a branch run up though the valley of Four Mile Creek on an inspection tour of their proposed line.

 

A month later, there was an item in the paper, which stated that engineers [1b] were at work on the Four Mile Valley Railroad, and had completed the survey, as far as Hueston's Mill. By tunneling under the ridge near the Jesse Corwin farm (on Beissinger Rd.) [2] for about half a mile, the line could be shortened three miles. The cost of such excavating would be 50 cents per square yard. As it would be through almost all limestone, they hoped to sell this to pay much of the cost of excavating.

 

The few papers found in connection with this railroad seem worthy of consideration, even though the road was never finished.

 

In April 1850, Dr. A. Porter, wrote from Oxford to John Woods, Auditor of State. He said that they had previously pulled together on public works and he now asked Mr. Woods to 'use a little wind' to help start cars on the Four Mile Valley Railroad. Their engineer had completed that survey to the state line and found it most favorable - low grade and easy construction. He said that Mr. Moore was running a line from Liberty, Ind., to cross the Miami River, near the mouth of Indian Creek, on to Cincinnati, leaving out of Hamilton and Rossville. If Mr. Woods would come to Oxford on a certain date, they would arrange a meeting at an hour to suit his convenience. They wished to rouse the people to the work. 'Now, it appears to me,' he wrote, 'that, as you find the different Rail Road Balls inclined to roll down the valleys to your place, you should give them a kick that would prevent them from passing you by.'

 

Railroad Reorganizes

 

Mr. Woods replied that he did not return home and receive the letter in time to attend the meeting. The H&C had reorganized, as the CH&D company, which took a deep interest in the several proposed lines to connect with theirs at Hamilton. He hoped to see a road through Eaton to Richmond built soon, as well as one to Connersville and Rushville. 'Quick transportation, cheap postage, and free labor are the great moving powers to be put into operation,' he opined.

 

Another year passed. In February 1851, the following letter [3] was written at Fair Haven.

 

Dear Sir:

 

I have thought I would drop you a line to let you know how we are getting along - Everything now seems to be in prosperous condition and, as to our Rail Road, the people along the route have resolved to make one. We organized on February the 14th and calculate to elect our Directors on four weeks from that day at Oxford, the most of the stock has been taken on this end to the route and the question is asked every day, if John Woods could be got to be President of the Company, as our folks place a great deal of confidence in you, that is, if they had you as a leader, it would go ahead with a rush, now we would like to know if you would serve - now come and assist us to make our Road, which i think will be one of the best in the county, except for the Cincinnati and Hamilton Road. There is no doubt but that there will be some opposition to you in Rossville, as they think you will not show them any favors and will want to run a line around them into Hamilton, but I think those matters can all be arranged so that we can all work together for good, please let me hear from you, so that I will know how to answer those many questions that are asked everyday.

 

Respectfully yours John Woods, Esq.

F. Kramer [4]

 

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Reply Not Found

 

Mr. Wood's reply is not found, but we have this from John S. Scouller of Fair Haven:

 

'In the absence from town of Mr. Kramer, his partner in business and others interested in the R. Road, I opened your letter to him. We find that you are entirely mistaken as to the road for which we solicit your interest and aid. The Four Mile Valley R.R. Co. was chartered to construct a road from Hamilton to Richmond, Ind. It is behalf of this road that we solicit your interest & hope you will give us some encouragement to elect you as Director, expecting the Directors to make you President, etc.' [5]

 

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However, Mr. Woods thought the interests of this road 'too local.' He favored the Junction road as it would connect direct with Indianapolis and would have the support of the Indiana people. [6]

 

Kossuth, Hungarian patriot, was in our country in 1851 and 1852, and the Four Mile Company secured the services of his typographical engineer, tis said. Their office was in the Butler County House, Rossville's elegant new tavern.

 

The Rossville Weekly Sentinel started publication in August 1853. It was happy to assure the public that the Four Mile Valley Railroad was pushing its work with extra energy - the tunnel would soon be started. Peter B. Bailey, president of this company, in March of 1854, reported an expenditure of $115,413.85. [7]

 

Since Mr. Woods was not connected with this company, we do not have the last, sad chapter. The embankments, still visible in some places, give mute story of the men who ventured much and lost all. Too many lines were trying to push through. The Eaton and Hamilton company and the Junction company had better backing."

 

Plans for a Darrtown depot were dashed, when the Hamilton-Oxford rail line moved west through McGonigle. That meant that residents of Darrtown and vicinity had to travel to depots in other communities to take advantage of rail travel.

 

The images below show four depots that served Darrtown and Milford township area, from the mid-1800’s into the 20th century. The photos (and accompanying captions) were taken from a paperback book titled “Railroads of Southwest Ohio” (Camp, Mark J. / Arcadia Publishers - 2010).

 

  • The images are displayed (below) in the order that they appear on pages 81 and 82 of Camp's book.

 

  • The "PRR" that is referenced in the following captions is an abbreviation for the Pennsylvania Railroad. That rail line north from Cincinnati through Hamilton, Seven Mile, Collinsville, Somerville, Camden... and beyond.

 

  • The "PCC & StL" that is referenced below is an abbreviation for the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis railroad company.

 

  • Railroad transportation was a vital part of life in southwest Ohio, as evidenced by the number of times that L.A. Miller wrote about using the train lines in his daily diaries that span three decades (1910 - 1937); see: People/families/Miller,LA/diaries.
Camden, Ohio

"Camden's PRR depot dates to the late 1880's, after the PCC&StL purchased the Eaton and Hamilton and constructed a new line from Hamilton into Cincinnati. In this c.1910 postcard view, a PRR accommodation is about to pick up some travelers. After closing, the depot was moved to a site on Fisher-Twin Road and modified."

 

 

Somerville, Ohio

"The Eaton and Hamilton operated between Hamilton and Somerville by May 1852. It is likely that this depot dates to the 1850s or 1860s and either is an original E&H design or was built during the tenure of the Cincinnati, Richmond, and Chicago Railroad. The architectrure is not typical of PRR structures in this region."

 

 

Collinsville, Ohio

"Collinsville's PRR depot is shown (right) in the c.1910 postcard view. This is a later depot, probably replacing an original Eaton and Hamilton structure."

Seven Mile, Ohio

"Seven Mile (at right) is of similar architecture to Somerville and probably dates to the time of the Eaton and Hamilton or Cincinnati, Richmond, and Chicago Railroad."

 

 

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