Once upon a time, the Little Miami Railroad, named for the river that it follows, was Cincinnati’s land passage to the rest of the world. Starting downtown, the railway eventually reached Xenia, Ohio, where it connected with other lines stretching to Columbus, Dayton, and eventually, Toledo and Detroit. The railway was eventually absorbed into the Pennsylvania Railroad, which became Penn Central, and eventually Conrail. Conrail no longer exists, and it abandoned the line in the 1980′s before it was consumed by the two big East Coast rail companies, CSX and Norfolk Southern.
Now? It’s mostly a bike trail, but you can see the bones of the old railway if, as I am, you’re inclined to spend a few sunny Sundays walking long sections of the trail.
A plaque near Foster, Ohio, a forgotten rail crossing on Old Route 3, tells the story of the railroad.
A rusted rail sign warns of trains that passed decades ago.
In Loveland, Ohio, the tracks that used to be flanked by greenspace now are greenspace.
This signal near Milford was left in place as the Little Miami Bike Trail was built over the old rail bed. The trail also reuses the railroad’s old bridges.
The telegraph poles remain in place for long stretches, though the wires have long since been taken down. One time, about 25 years ago, I learned the hard way that those wires on the poles still in use do not connect to the phone system. They are strictly for railroad use. In fact, they’re part of the original telegraph system. Didn’t help when my car broke down near a small town rail depot. Some of these poles, however, have not survived the years very well.