Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Blue Bridge Above the Highway



CL&N_001

Above I-71, a bright blue railroad bridge spans the freeway canyon, but doesn't actually carry trains anymore. A remnant of an old rail line, the steel path can still be used as a shortcut over the highway if you know where to find it.




CL&N_002
- The actual railroad ties and tracks are long gone.

The bridge is a remnant of the now defunct Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railway. The CL&N provided freight and passenger service between Cincinnati and Dayton via the suburb of Lebanon in Warren County. Construction of the railway began in September 1876. Initially constructed as a narrow gauge railroad, the entire CL&N line was converted to standard gauge in 1894. The CL&N's steep southward route into Cincinnati became a highly valued right-of-way. By 1896, the majority of CL&N's stock was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad who took over management of the line.

CL&N_003
- WCPO Channel 9 as seen in the background.

The CL&N continued to be a highly profitable freight and passenger line, but competition from interurbans and automobiles began to slowly chip away at the line's profitability. By 1928, all services north of Lebanon were discontinued. When all of Cincinnati's passenger rail traffic was required to converge at the newly opened Union Terminal in 1933, The CL&N (which had up until that point enjoyed easy access into downtown's east side) was required to make a lengthy detour to Union Terminal on the west side. By January 1934, all passenger service on the CL&N ceased. Freight service was continued on various parts of the line until some point in the late 80's when the right of way was completely disused.

Remnants of the old route still dot the Cincinnati landscape. From over passes above Victory Parkway...

- 2008 Queen City Discovery photo.

...to the tunnel that was once rumored to be a filming location for "Ghostbusters II:

- 2008 Queen City Discovery photo.

I had written an article about the "Ghostbusters" rumor and the CL&N line back in 2008. 

You can even still take a train on a small part of the CL&N's former right-of-way. The Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad offers excursion trips themed to Christmas, Thomas the Tank Engine, the Civil War and more throughout the year. 

- An engineer on the Lebanon, Mason and Monroe railroad waits for an excursion trip to begin in 2008.

The blue bridge seen in these recent photos is just another historical remnant of the CL&N's glory days and has become somewhat of an obscure graffiti art gallery nestled above the highway.

CL&N_004
- Graffiti on the bridge's steel frame.

If you don't mind precariously holding on to a fence and trying not to fall onto the freeway below, it makes for an interesting shortcut between the Eastern and Central parts of downtown.

CL&N_005

3 comments:

  1. I always wondered if anyone crossed that bridge. Funny since there's another bridge right next to it. Wouldn't save much time. :)

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