Liberty and Vienna Railroad

The Liberty and Vienna Railroad was organized and incorporated in 1868. On June 25th of that year stock was issued to subscribers John Tod, Evan Morris, Charles D. Arms, Jacob Stambaugh, George Tod, and B. F. Hoffman. The company set forth to construct a public railroad (common carrier) from the then-existing end-of-track of the Church Hill Coal Company's line (near State Routes 193 and 304) to the center of Vienna Township. The line would provide suitable transportation, to various markets and users, of the coal mined in both townships. Other general haulage, including transporting miners to and from work, was also offered.

Typical 1870s era hoppered gondolas consisted of wood frames, wood side-boards, metal floors, archbar trucks with wood bolsters, manual brakes, link & pin couplers, length 22 feet, and a load capacity 20 tons. The cost was approximately $700 per car (~$14,000 in 2021).Image courtesy of Bob Smith.

In 1869, the Liberty and Vienna Railroad petitioned the Trumbull County Court to appropriate and to settle land acquisition and right-of-way cases including sixteen property owners. The surveyed length of line was 29,650 feet (5.6 miles) with a normal width of 66 feet. The total length from the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad junction to Vienna Center was 8.5 miles. The line basically followed the valley of Little Squaw Creek, crossing it four times. South of Liberty Street Extension the grade was approximately 1.4%, then to Route 304, where the grade rose to approximately 1.6%, then to Tibbetts-Wick Road, where the grade lowered to 0.95%. There was a 25-feet-deep cut through the land of George Hood avoided a hook in the stream valley. The line's elevation ranged from 880 feet at the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad connection to 1155 feet at the Liberty-Vienna Township line.

At least six known branches of the Liberty and Vienna Railroad to various mines are charted on old maps. The branch to the Church Hill Mine was a narrow-gauge "tram" line.

Western Reserve Chronicle, April 23, 1873, page 2.
The first passenger train traveled along the railroad on May 16, 1873.Western Reserve Chronicle, May 21, 1873, page 3.

The peak year for coal mined in Trumbull County was 1879. In that year 1,065,000 tons were produced, according to State of Ohio records. Based upon this peak period, it is estimated that approximately 50 carloads (each car with a 20-ton capacity) originated daily along the Liberty and Vienna Railroad. For the main production period of years from 1870 to 1884, the average originated carloads would have been approximately 27 per workday. A small portion of the production was likely sold locally and transported by wagon.

Western Reserve Chronicle, June 11, 1873, page 2.

During 1870 the Liberty and Vienna Railroad extended its line from Girard to Youngstown, but the following year sold this portion to the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburg (also known as Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Ashtabula) Railroad for $200,000. In August 1872, the Liberty and Vienna, Cleveland and Mahoning, and the Niles and New Lisbon railroads were consolidated to become the Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad. The Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad was leased in 1880 by the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad (known as the "NYPANO"), which in turn was leased by the Erie Railroad in 1883. In 1896 the Erie Railroad acquired NYPANO's capital stock and in 1941 acquired all its properties.

Schedule of the "Vienna Branch" passenger trains. Western Reserve ChronicleOctober 8, 1873, page 3.

By 1891, the output of Trumbull County coal mines dropped below 100,000 tons annually. It is unknown exactly when the Liberty and Vienna branch quit service. The 1893 Sanborn Insurance map of Trumbull County shows the entire line. The 1899 Atlas indicates only the south end of the line, up to Liberty Street Extension in place, as does a 1918 tax map.

Liberty & Vienna Railroad stock certificate.
Image courtesy of the Vienna Historical Society.

Contributor: Bob Smith


Updated 5/10/2021