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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Traction Line Once Linked All Corners Of Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 26 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 157
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The Cincinnati and Miami Valley Traction Company

The Cincinnati and Miami Valley Traction Company ended at midnight May 13, 1939. This ended a means of transportation, which had successfully carried the population of the Miami Valley for a period of over forty years. The economic interests of the communities that it served had seen no better means of progression in the whole history of the valley.
The first section of the interurban line was built from Fifth and Jefferson streets in Dayton to Carrmonte in 1894. A year later a discussion was settled that a realization of a connection from Dayton, through Franklin, to Cincinnati was inevitable. In 1896, a dream came true with the connection of the two cities.
The traction company experienced a problem with considerable difficulty in obtaining a permit to cross the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton tracks south of Middletown near Trenton. A much publicized court battle ensued in which public sentiment was definitely against the railroad company. The permit was finally granted and the final link in the line was completed on August 24, 1897. The traction line schedule allowed regular cars each way every thirty minutes for about 18 hours a day.
Up until 1913 the traction line through Franklin experienced little trouble. However, the flood of 1913 washed out much of the track and many of the bridges over the Great Miami were washed away. Repairs were quickly made and service was resumed in record time.
The company had many name changes. The Cincinnati and Miami Valley Traction Company's name existed until 1902 when several Ohio interurban lines consolidated to form the Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo Company.
Included in the merger were the Southern Ohio Traction Company, the Cincinnati and Northern Railroad Company, The Miamisburg and Germantown Traction Company, and the Hamilton and Lindenwald Electric Company.
Six years later, in 1908, the lines were known as the Ohio Electric Railway Company, which operated the traction company until 1918, when the Cincinnati and Dayton Traction Company took over the business.
In 1926, the name was again changed to Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Traction Company. The final name change came in January 1930, when the traction line was taken over by the Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad Company.
From the beginning, the speed of the traction cars had been increased as the demand for faster transportation became evident. The original cars were able to average between 35 and 40 miles per hour.
In 1903, the interurbans were traveling at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour and the cars used at the time of termination of the line were capable of traveling, on straight stretches, speeds up to 70 miles per hour.

The Lebanon & Franklin Traction Company

The Lebanon and Franklin Traction Company was a very reliable transportation system from Lebanon to Franklin, and vice-versa. Obtaining the property rights for this line was fairly easy because the farmers saw the need to transfer their products. These products such as vegetables, fruits, and even animals were shipped via this route. This line was used mainly for passenger service, and also for transfer of students attending the different schools in Lebanon.
The route was finished in July 1903. The actual grading started at the Rhoades hill south of Franklin on what is now S.R. 123. There are still traces of the old line at the top of the hill, and the old line is still fairly visible traveling toward Franklin. The traction line ran on the west side of S.R. 123 from Franklin to Red Lion. It then was laid out to proceed in a straight line to the junction of Kirby Road and S.R. 123. The line then proceeded on the east side of S.R. 123 to Markey Road, and then south and east of the latter road to S.R. 63; thence east on S.R. 63 to Lebanon with the line running on the south side of the latter highway. There are still many signs of the Lebanon-Franklin Traction line that can be seen from S.R. 123, and also some visible signs on Markey Road.
The traction line purchased two cars built by the Barney & Smith Company, the dimensions being 40 feet long, 8 feet 4 inches wide and 12 feet high. The car numbers were 103 and 104. Charles Kohr was the conductor for the entire lifetime of the line. Other employees were Will Whitley, Fred Bluss, William Swink and Perry Schwartzel.
Standard gauge of the line was 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, which is considered uniform in modern times. The electric generator was located at 1122 South Main St. in Franklin. This generator was shared with the Miami Valley Traction Company. Franklin's office was at Brubaker's restaurant on the corner of Sixth and Main Streets. The stop in Lebanon was in front of the library and the tickets could be purchased at the Lebanon Hotel (now The Golden Lamb).
Because of the financial woes of the line, which was constantly in monetary trouble, it was forced to cease operations December 31, 1918.

The Interurban Railway and Terminal Company

A company was formed in 1900, which was named The Interurban and Terminal Company. This was another traction line that was to eventually run through Warren County.
During the first two years of its operation a division named the Cincinnati and Eastern built a route to New Richmond from the Queen City paralleling the Ohio River most of the way, with its route passing by Coney Island. The Suburban Division was another branch, which had its terminal at Bethel.
The Rapid Railway was a division of the line that extended from Cincinnati to Lebanon. The line reached Mason in May 1902; it reached Lebanon September 26, this date being the last day of Lebanon's Centennial commemoration. The route of the Rapid Railway was north from Cincinnati to Mason, Kings Mills, South Lebanon and on to the "City of Cedars."
The office in Kings was located on King Avenue. The main attraction for this stop was the Kings Mills Powder Company and the Peters Cartridge Company. Workers from the entire area used the line for transportation to and from work. A double deck bridge framework, 60 feet high and 330 feet long, was located coming east from Mason over Dawson Street to Kings Mills.
The late Marion Snyder stated in one of his articles concerning an item in the Street Railway Journal, dated November 21, 1903, "near this hillside (at one end of the trestle) has been cut and a solid stone retaining wall Gerected."
The projection of the line ran a short distance south of the Kings Mills Road from Mason to Kings Mills. South Lebanon's ticket office was located at Victor Van Riper's store. Mr. Snyder relates that Saturday nights found the cars filled to capacity to and from South Lebanon. This last night of the week found the cars packed out, initially for special events up and down the line, plays, dances, parties and the like. (One very special person to ride the line was Warren G. Harding, many years before his Presidency.)
Standing room only was generally the rule on Saturdays. Crowding onto the open area of the cars on the back was a reality, or occasionally a courageous person would stand on the step rather than wait for the next car.
Mr. Snyder relates an incident, which occurred to one Bob Klick, a Kings Mills resident. As was stated, Saturday night was a gala time and the cars were full of frolic-makers. He writes:
"One had neglected to turn the switch back at the Opera House so that the car, instead of going on down the hill towards the railroad suddenly swung left onto Main Street and around the block again. The swerve caused Bob to lose his balance, fall off the car (he was hardly on it) and he started rolling down the hill where the car was supposed to go. Of course the car got back where it belonged and Bob rode home."
Mr. Snyder also discloses that French Smith recalled riding the traction from Mason to Kings Mills so he and three other teenage boys could play pool. Mason's rules applied for pool playing only if you were eighteen. As he recalled, the fare from Mason to Kings was ten cents one way.
The Rapid Railway was not only a passenger line. It was also, like the Lebanon-Franklin Traction Line, a rail for farm produce and the like. This particular division of the Interurban Railway and Terminal Company operated for twenty years, from 1902 to 1922.

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