The Barnesville Tunnel is a 423-foot tunnel constructed by the Central Ohio Railway between 1864-70 in Barnesville, Ohio. It was later used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad until 1983.
Barnesville Tunnel was finished by the Central Ohio Railway in November 1854 (although noted as being constructed between 1864 and 1870 in a historical marker), and the 423-foot tunnel was central to Central Ohio’s efforts to build a line between Columbus and Bellaire at the Ohio River. 1 Work was slow because of the rugged terrain which required the building of six tunnels and 12 large bridges between Zanesville and Bellaire.
On November 21, 1866, the Central Ohio Railway struck a deal with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) for a term of 20 years during which time the B&O would operate Central Ohio. The agreement was finalized on December 1. 2 With a later acquisition of the Sandusky, Mansfield & Newark Railroad, the B&O was linked from Bellaire to the port of Sandusky along Lake Erie, which gave it a direct connection to Chicago.
The Central Ohio route ultimately became part of the B&O’s Cincinnati to Pittsburgh Secondary, with the section of line between Columbus and Newark being shared with the Pennsylvania Railroad. 1 By 1955, the B&O route west of Bellaire had one passenger train each way and less than 10 freights per day. In 1983, the railroad abandoned the route from Cambridge east to Bellaire. The abandoned station, rail grade, and tunnel were purchased by the community in 1991 for redevelopment into a park.
Today, portions of the Central Ohio Railway alignment have been preserved as a rail-to-trail, and approximately one mile of trail follows the grade and tunnel in downtown Barnesville.
- State: Ohio
- Route: Formerly Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
- Type: Tunnel
- Status: Active - Pedestrian
- Total Length: 423 feet
- Steiner, Rowlee. “Columbus Railroads.” 1952. Columbus Railroads. Web. 29 Aug. 2011. Article.
- Wright, George B. “Central Ohio Railroad.” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Railroads and Telegraphs to the Governor of the State of Ohio for the year 1867. Columbus: Myers & Bros., 1868. 61-62. Google Books. Web. 11 Aug. 2010. Article.