In Scioto County railroad system stretched from village to village and town to town – in the heyday of the iron horse there the majesty of the railroad prevailed. Meandering up and down the splendor of the Scioto Valley, moving passengers and manufactured goods to many rail stops along the way. Billowing steam clouds puffing toward the sky only to wane into the air, the locomotive flexed its mighty muscle, continuing on and on. Headlong and decidedly the trains would roll, slogging to reach various destinations. Consequently, the Railroad was accomplished due to the vision and determination of the pioneer spirit to succeed.
The Scioto County Railroad was organized in February 1875, and lost no time building, reaching Chillicothe from Columbus in July 1876. It was a standard gauge railroad with 56-pound rail. It operated regularly from Chillicothe with four locomotives, eight-passenger cars, and fifty-five freight cars. The road was thru to Portsmouth amid a great celebration in January 1878.
Construction of the Scioto Valley Railway was completed in 1887. Twelve years later, the Scioto Valley Railway reorganized as the Scioto Valley & New England Railroad. In 1890, the N&W acquired the Scioto Valley Railway, an isolated 126-mile line that ran from a small town near Columbus to Coal Grove, Ohio, located across the river from Kenova, West Virginia. Cincinnati, Portsmouth & Virginia Railroad was incorporated June 24, 1891. In 1982, two giants of the region merged as the N&W and the Southern Railway System became the Norfolk Southern Corporation.
According to a family member of a man killed in a train accident in Rarden, Ohio, the following story was shared. “A train wreck on the C P & V in Rarden on September 4, 1893, that killed Francis Marion Weaver, Grand Father of Elaine Weaver-Cresie. He worked for The Rarden Manufacturing Company, as a night watchman. The Rarden Manufacturing Company was within 10 feet away from a stopped train. The engineer was a friend of my Grandfather. So Grandpa got up on the steps to talk to his friend and keep warm because it was a chilly night. It was about 3 a.m. The switchman left his post, leaving a 16-year-old boy to change the switches. He neglected to do so and the other train, The Owl, ran right into the train my Grandpa was standing on. He was scalded to death but lived for several hours before he passed. He begged a deputy to shoot him, but he wouldn’t. Several people on both trains were killed and one of the trains ran into a boarding house belonging to Mrs. Brown, but amazingly, no one in it was harmed. The locomotive on the left was CP&V locomotive #10 was parked on the siding at the plant unloading or loading goods. The engineer and fireman on #10 both got off to observe a passing work train going in the opposite direction, while Mr. Weaver climbed aboard to get warm. Shortly before 2 am the work train approached and entered the same siding at a high rate of speed due to an unsecure switch lock. The engineer and fireman on the locomotive and Mr. Weaver perished. Unbelievably locomotive #10 was rebuilt in Portsmouth and returned to service. When the C P& V was purchased by the N&W in 1901, #10 was renumbered as N&W locomotive #716. In 1904 it was renumbered again to N&W #521 which it remained until it was scrapped in January 1912. The fate of the other locomotive is not known. The locomotive was crunched like an accordion. There was another train wreck in Rarden September 11, 1919, that killed the grandson of Francis Weaver, Doris Weaver, at the age of 19. He worked for the railroad and was on a work detail. He was in one of the open cars, along with his cousin, Selby Weaver, when the train was hit by another train, throwing them both over an embankment. Doris was instantly killed and Selby’s back was broken. His son, Roy Weaver, was supposed to work with them that day. He never missed work, but missed that day because he was sick. Francis Marion Weaver is buried in Newman Cemetery outside of Rarden.” (Portsmouth Info.com & Portsmouth Times)
Bob Boldman can be reached at : [email protected]