Was a Class I railroad formed in 1869 in Virginia from several smaller Virginia railroads begun in the 19th century.
Led by industrialist Collis P. Huntington, it reached from Virginia's capital city of Richmond to the Ohio River by 1873, where the railroad town (and later city) of Huntington, West Virginia was named for him.
At the end of 1970 C&O operated 5067 miles of road on 10219 miles of track, not including WM or B&O and its subsidiaries.
The Allegheny (2-6-6-6) one of the most powerful reciprocating steam locomotives ever built at 7,500 HP (which was only exceeded by the PRR Q2), and one of the heaviest at 389 tons for the locomotive itself plus 215 tons for the loaded tender.
The two lines' services, personnel, motive power and rolling stock, and facilities were gradually integrated. Under the leadership of Hays T. Watkins Jr., the C&O, B&O and Western Maryland Railway became Chessie System, formally adopting a name that had been used colloquially for the C&O itself, after the mascot kitten used in ads since 1933.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway never spent lavishly on streamlined passenger trains, or passenger service in general, opting to put most of its resources into moving coal and freight in general. However, it did have a number of well known passenger trains including the George Washington, Fast Flying Virginian, Sportsman, Pere Marquette, and Resort Special.
During the ten years from 1878 to 1888, C&O's coal resources began to be developed and shipped eastward. Transportation began of southern West Virginia coal to Newport News where it was loaded on coast-wise shipping and transported to the Northeast became a staple of the C&O's business at this time.
Finally, C&O merged into CSX Transportation on Aug. 31, 1987. After acquiring 42% of Conrail in 1999, CSX became one of four major railroad systems left in the country.
C&O continued to be one of the more profitable and financially sound railways in the United States, and in 1963, under the guidance of Cyrus S. Eaton, helped start the modern merger era by "affiliating" with the Baltimore & Ohio.
In 1972, under the leadership of Cyrus Eaton, it became part of the Chessie System, along with the Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland Railway.