Chesapeake and Ohio Railway

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The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway formed in 1869. It began as a conglomeration of smaller railroads, principally in Virginia, but eventually the company expanded its service to Ohio and beyond. During the late nineteenth century, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway principally shipped coal from West Virginia to the Atlantic Ocean’s coastline. With the advent of the twentieth century, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway began to purchase lines and build new track into Ohio. Very quickly, the company began shipping a majority of the coal it transported to steel mills in Ohio rather than to the East to ship overseas.

Helping fuel the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s growth in Ohio, in 1923, two Cleveland financiers, O. P. and M. J. Van Sweringen, purchased a controlling interest in the railroad. These men already owned the Nickel Plate Railroad. The Van Sweringen brothers controlled the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway until 1942. In 1972, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway merged with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Western Maryland Railway to become the Chessie System. The new company was named after the Chessie cat, which had been an advertising gimmick of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway since 1934. As the Chessie System acquired additional railroads, the company became a dominant force in the rail industry. In 1986, the firm became known as CSX Transportation, and it continues to operate under this name today.

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