The Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad was first chartered railroad in the State of Ohio and west of the Allegheny Mountains. On September 17, 1835 ground was broke at Sandusky for the line by General William Henry Harrison and Joseph Vance, Governor of Ohio.
On December 2, 1837, the Mad River and Lake Erie obtained their first engine, "The Sandusky" which arrived via the lake schooner and Erie Canal. It was the first locomotive built by Thomas Roger of Patterson, New Jersey. This engine was originally built for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company to a gauge of 4' 10".
"The Sandusky" powered the first passenger train from Sandusky to Bellevue, which was a distance of sixteen miles. The train consisted of the locomotive, a small passenger car with no center aisle and a freight car about 20 feet in length. Since the passenger car had no center aisle, conductor collected the fares from an outside footboard. The freight car had four wheels and was open so in bad weather a tarpaulin covered the content. The first crew for the run was Thomas Hogg, Engineer, John Paull, Fireman and Charles Higgings, Conductor.
The Mad River and Lake Erie railroad was doing business at 4 1/2 cents a mile for passengers and 25 cents a ton per mile for freight.
By 1839, the road was completed to Republic, Ohio with the first train arriving at the East side of the Sandusky River in Tiffin, Ohio in 1842. The crew on this train was Conrad Poppenburg, Engineer, Ernest Kirrian, Fireman and Paul Klauer, Train Hand.
Finally by June 1849, 134 1/2 miles of track was completed with the road reaching the southern terminus in Springfield, Ohio. The cost of this project was $1,754,263.
The company constructed a road from Sandusky to Dayton, Ohio with a branch to Findlay, Ohio, and operated its road from January, 1851, until February 23, 1858. The company abandoned its line between Sandusky and Tiffin, Ohio, via Bellevue and Republic, and under contract from December 1, 1854 to February 23, 1858, operated the road of The Sandusky City and Indiana Railroad Company between those two points, via Clyde, Ohio. The company also operated under contract form its completion until February 23, 1858, the line of The Springfield and Columbus Railroad Company, extending from Springfield to London, Ohio. On February 23, 1858, a decree of the Erie County Common Pleas Court was filed with the Secretary of State of Ohio changing the name of the company to The Sandusky Dayton and Cincinnati Railroad Company.
The name of the corporation changed to Sandusky & Cincinnati Railroad in May 1866. In October of the same year, the company leased its road for 99 years, renewable forever, but by mutual agreement to Cincinnati, Dayton & Eastern Railroad. In 1868, the lease of the Sandusky & Cincinnati Railroad was surrendered to The Sandusky Dayton and Cincinnati Railroad Company. By decree of the Erie County Common Pleas Court, the corporate name changed to Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad - Pioneer Line of Ohio. In July 1870, it became the Columbus, Springfield & Cincinnati Railroad when the Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad reached an agreement on a lease for 99 years. The Columbus, Springfield & Cincinnati was successor to Springfield & Columbus Railroad again.
From 1877 to 1880 the Line was in receivership. The Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad signed a perpetual lease of Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad. A receiver for the IB&W was appointed July 1, 1886 and the road name was changed to Ohio, Indiana & Western Railroad. When the ownership reverted to the previous owners of the termination of the IB&W receivership, it became Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad again.
On November 1, 1890, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, commonly known as the "Big Four" acquired Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad and the Columbus, Springfield and Cincinnati Railroad.
In 1930, the New York Central System leased the Big Four. In 1938, the last passenger train ran on the line from Bellefontaine to San dusky via Tiffin. The New York Central merged with Pennsylvania Lines to form PenCentral Railroad on February 1, 1968. On April 1, 1976, the PenCentral merged with other eastern bankrupt railroad to form Conrail (Consolidated Railway Corporation).
In 1999, Conrail was divided between Norfolk Southern Railroad and CSX Transportation.
The above information was obtained from the following materials:
Annual Report 1923 of The New York Central Railroad Company
A Chronological History of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad
by Paul Laning and Jim Roberts, The Caboose Cable, April 1980
Mad River and NKP Railroad
233 York St
Bellevue OH 44811-1377