The Church Hill Tunnel runs from just east and north of the intersection of Cedar Street and Marshall Street, under Jefferson Park and Marshall Street, to a point just south of 31st and Grace Street.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway broke ground for the tunnel on February 1, 1872. During construction, a section of ground near 24th Street above the tunnel dropped 20 feet “carrying several unoccupied houses with it.” The Church Hill Tunnel was completed in December, 1873.
The tunnel saw regular use for 28 years. After completion of the riverfront viaduct in 1901, the Church Hill Tunnel was relegated to standby use and was later put out of service in 1915.
The article embedded below is from March 12, 1902, dating from just after the tunnel fell out of regular use – and 23 years before the eventual collapse.
In 1925, the railroad began efforts to restore the tunnel to usable condition to add capacity. On October 2, 1925, a collapse near the western end of the tunnel trapped a work train. Engineer Thomas Joseph Mason was killed, two other workers were unaccounted for, and Fireman Benjamin F. Mosby died hours later due of the burns caused by the ruptured boiler.
Engine #231 and 10 flat cars remain in the tunnel.