Roddy Road Tunnel
The Roddy Road tunnel is a sandstone block arched tunnel. A creek flows through the tunnel, and railroad tracks once passed above. Currently the road runs next to the structure, though in the past the road went directly through the tunnel alongside the Creek. The Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad built the tunnel in the 1850s to serve their line. However, the tunnel is much longer than just the width of the railroad, this apparently was to allow room for farmers to move livestock and equipment over the tunnel as well, without interfering with the railroad.
Backstory and Context
Incorporated in 1845 as the Belpre and Cincinnati, the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad began constructing a line from Marietta through Southeastern Ohio in the 1850s with the goal of connecting Marietta with Cincinnati. The railroad's founders envisioned a line that would carry passengers and freight across the lower portion of Ohio, as well as connect to the Baltimore and Ohio and larger railroads to the east. The Appalachian Foothills posed a challenge to early railroad engineers, who were forced to design and construct many tunnels, trestles, and culverts in order to maintain the railroad's grade. Despite financial setbacks, the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad accomplished its goal; the first train ran the complete distance between Cincinnati and Marietta in 1857.
The first portion of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad's line connected Cincinnati to Chillicothe and opened in 1855. In April of 1856 the line opened as far as Athens. Completing the section that connected Athens to Marietta was more difficult, and it took another year to open to regular rail traffic. The company continued to improve the original line. The Roddy Road structure is part of the line between Athens and Marietta, and is one of many culverts, bridges, and tunnels built to maintain grade through the hills and valleys. Though the exact date is unclear, the railroad likely built the structure after the heavy rains of 1858 washed out many original culverts.1 Made from large sandstone blocks held together by keystone arches, the tunnel section is 120 feet in length. A road which has since been moved used to run through the tunnel, now only a creek flows under the sandstone vault.
In 1868, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad gained enough shares to control the Marietta and Cincinnati. In 1889, the B&O assumed outright control over the line then dissolved the M&C. Meanwhile, in 1871, the Baltimore Short-line Company formed with the purpose of laying a railway from Belpre to Athens. In 1874, the company completed the short line, rendering the old line from Marietta to Canaanville redundant.2 The B&O abandoned the costly to maintain line shortly thereafter. The Toledo & Ohio Central Extension claimed the unused line in 1884, and operated until 1893, when the company went into receivership.3
The railroad supported by the Roddy Road structure saw train traffic again in the early 1900s, but only until 1916. After the section of line west of Vincent was abandoned for the last time, the Marietta and Vincent Railroad operated the old Marietta and Cincinnati line from Moore's Junction to Vincent, until it too ceased operation in 1924.4
1. Byers, David E. The Federal Valley Railroad Company & its Ancestors. Westerville, OH. Integrity Press, 2000. 12.
2. History of the Hocking Valley, Ohio. Chicago, IL. Inter-State Publishing Co., 1883. 137-138.
3. 2. Andrews, Martin R. (Editor). History of Marietta and Washington County, and Representative Citizens. Chicago, Il. Biographical Pub. Co. 1902. 274.4. "Program on Old Rail Line, Huge Piers." Marietta Times. October 3, 2013.