Thursday, September 6, 2012

Little Miami Railroad

Location: Northeast corner of Eggleston Avenue and Pete Rose Way, Downtown.

The marker reads:

The Little Miami Railroad, chartered in 1836, was the first railroad to server Cincinnati; it began service between the city and Milford on December 14, 1841.  Eventually, the Little Miami provided an important link between southwestern Ohio and the communities further to the east, but in its early years, the line could not come all the way into Cincinnati.  City Council prohibited the new, dirty, and potentially dangerous means of transportation from coming inside city limits.  Therefore, the railroad’s yards, workshops, and first passenger depot were in Pendleton, a community that is part of the present-day East End.  Passengers rode into Cincinnati in horse-drawn omnibuses or in train cars pulled by horses.

Building the railroad was extremely expensive, and by 1842, the Little Miami was bankrupt.  A $100,000 loan from the City of Cincinnati and the able management of banker and steamboat owner Jacob Strader reversed the company’s fortunes.  Around 1844, the railroad built a new depot at East Kilgour and Front Streets, along the riverfront.  The law prohibiting locomotives inside the city was lifted in 1845.  The construction of these facilities marked the beginning of the Cincinnati riverfront’s role as a key link in the area’s railroad network.  By 1847, the Little Miami carried more than 78,000 passengers, used fifteen locomotives, and had a net profit of $112,000.

The Little Miami Railroad stimulated residential and commercial development in the villages east of Cincinnati.  Commuter suburbs developed in rural villages as land was subdivided, and factories and warehouses went up along the rail line.

In the late 1860s, the Little Miami took over two smaller lines in eastern Ohio, and then in 1870, was itself leased by the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad.  In the 1920s, the Pennsylvania Railroad took over the PCC&StL. Passenger and freight stations in Cincinnati were closed when Union Terminal opening in 1933 and were finally torn down for clearance of the riverfront and urban renewal in mid-century.

By the 1980s, the growing use of the riverfront district for recreation purposes led to the reduction of rail activity in this vicinity.

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