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Monday, November 23, 2015

A Hidden Tunnel In Mason Ohio




Back in the woods of a suburban town, there's a small tunnel supporting an old railroad.

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If you travel past the fast food restaurants, big box stores and trappings of interstate exits you can find the heart of Mason, Ohio - the small Main street that eventually spawned into one of the Cincinnati area's most affluent suburbs. There's a charm to "old" Mason, one that's probably overlooked or simply not found by those who don't stray more than a few miles from the highway.

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Mason has a group of locals who are passionately devoted to preserving the town's history. They maintain a small historical museum in a residence on Church St. One of those folks is Jerry Mullins, a colleague of mine who wanted to show me something. A lifelong resident of Mason, Jerry had found this tunnel while playing in the woods as a kid. To reach it, we had to travel along the alignment of the now defunct Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern (CL&N) Railroad.

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The CL&N was once one of the strongest rail links between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. The line linked several suburbs and small towns along the way. It's a rail line that has left several abandoned pieces of infrastructure behind, many of which have been documented here on QC/D such as: a bridge over I-71 and the alleged "Ghostbusters Tunnel."

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The piece of infrastructure hidden in the woods of Mason though is a tunnel, but not one for the rail line to pass through. Rather, it exists to allow a creek to flow freely beneath the railroad tracks.

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- Jerry, posing with the tunnel he first came across as a kid.

It's narrow, about an arms length wide and lined with smooth, slippery stones. If you were just walking along the tracks, odds are you'd never notice it. Had Jerry not pointed it out, I probably would've walked on past never knowing it was under our feet.

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- Nondescript graffiti.
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The CL&N ceased to exist in 1921. The rails were then operated under various owners with passenger service ceasing in 1934. In the years following, some sections were abandoned while other sections were preserved for freight operation. This particular section eventually terminates south near a neighborhood and runs North to Lebanon where the Lebanon, Mason and Monroe Railroad runs tourist excursions.

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8 comments:

  1. That stonework is a very similar to that of the Cincinnati & Columbus Traction Company's culverts in Madeira and Indian Hill. http://www.jjakucyk.com/transit/cc/index.html

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    1. Wow. Incredibly similar. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. We are going to go take a look. Been here 54 years and didnt know about it thanks Ronny!!

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  3. Your article reminded me of the remains what my father called the old "traction line" that I used to be able to see on my school bus route in elementary school. Start at these co-ordinates: 39.086012, -84.234349 That puts you on Old SR 74 out near Batavia where the road crosses a stream. There is a large tunnel a few hundred yards upstream. The note that around the corner off Shaylor Rd. there is a street called Traction Ln. Dad always said that road was laid where the tracks once were, and modern satellite maps seem to bear that out. A little further down Old SR 74 towards Batavia, there is Old Depot Rd., the end of which doglegs onto the old track right of way as well. Switch from satellite view to map view and you can see how Traction Ln., the tunnel/bridge and the dogleg of Old Depot line up along tell tale curves in the property lines. Between Stoddard and Old Depot, there is a very very narrow plot that looks a lot like an old railroad right of way IMO and it lines up perfectly with Old Depot Rd's dogleg. Area lore says that there was a "power station" at the damn of Lake Allyn here: 39.081656, -84.225627 I've always heard that the line was electric and that Lake Allyn was created to provide hydroelectric power for the line. The only other part that was visible in the winter months was a rail way bed that runs on the opposite side of the creek bed that runs along Old SR 74 from 39.084832, -84.210183 on out towards where it used to join SR 32. As a kind, when all the leaves were off the trees, it looked like there was another road on the other side of the creek with old stone retaining walls and such. I don't know if this is up your alley at all, but it was fun remembering. Oh and thanks for everything you do on match days. Go FCC.

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    1. Related pictures can be found here (including the Lake Allyn historical marker referring to the power house): http://jjakucyk.com/transit/cgp/index.html

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    2. Anon,

      Thank you so much for sharing your memories and sharing this. I'm taking a look at the various coordinates now, is the tunnel still accessible?

      I'm gonna try and get out to this soon at some point, love jjakucyk's site.

      Do you still venture back there like when you were a kid?

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    3. I still live in the area, and the tunnel is still accessible as far as I know. It's in someone's backyard, so you should be able to get to it unless the brush at the creek's edge is too thick somehow. Also, I looked through all of those pictures in that link I posted and they do a great job outlining a lot of the route.

      I don't really use social media much so it was easier to post anonymously- but we have met a couple times. I'm Dave,and my wife and I met you first at that 2nd story bar in Pittsburgh the night before the April 1 game. I'd be more than happy to show you where things are if you do head out here and timing works and all that jazz. Looking through those pictures, I realize that I recognize a lot of those places. I just can't be sure of the state things are in now.

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    4. Dave, I remember talking to you guys! Shoot me an email at ronnysalerno@gmail.com and let's chat!

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