Submitted by Mike Zador
The Clinton Air Line* was a proposed railroad that was one segment of a railroad that was to extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Missouri River.
Conceived by DeWitt Clinton Jr., son of DeWitt Clinton, governor of New York and builder of the Erie Canal, the Clinton Air Line was chartered and organized in 1852.
The Clinton Air Line was centered in Hudson, Ohio and the President was Henry Noble Day. The line extended from Hudson east through Trumbull County to the Pennsylvania State Line where it connected to the Meadville Branch of the P&E and the Venango Railroad. It also had an “extension” that went from Hudson to Tiffin, Ohio.
In 1852 $200,000 was raised, mostly from Hudson community members; a survey was completed and land acquisition began. By 1853 the roadbed was virtually complete from Kinsman to Parkman. In Trumbull County, the railroad entered Ohio northeast of Kinsman and crossed the township diagonally. It crossed into Gustavus township and went a short distance before turning south passing into Mecca Township at the northeast corner. From there it turned west along a straight line crossing Mecca, Bristol and Farmington Townships. In Farmington the railroad crossed into Portage County. Although the roadbed was constructed and prepared, track or ties were never laid due to financial stress caused by the Panic of 1857 and increasing costs.
Attempts were made to revive the line, but non came to fruition. The only evidence to date, in October 2020, is in the Kinsman area (see attached images). More investigation into the roadbed needs to be done.
*By definition an “air line” railroad was built to be relatively flat and straight making travel smoothier and easier.
Map of Trumbull County, 1856
Perrin, W.H. History of Summit County, 1881, pages 292-293.
Vince, Thomas, Lecture, Portage County Historical Society, 2010
Vince, Thomas, Ruminating About Ruins, Hudson Life, September 2000.