Excerpted from

Report On Plans
and an Estimate of the Cost
of a Rapid Transit Railway
and an Interurban Railway Terminal
for the City of Cincinnati, Ohio

With the foregoing modifications to the recommendations of the Commission the plans upon which this estimate is made are described as follows:

Scheme I, or as it has been designated, the "Canal St. Belt Line," is a two-track railway throughout its length.

The location and types of construction, are as follows:  Beginning at the intersection of the Canal and Vine Streets the railway, in a subway, follows the Canal to a point about 1000ft. north of Ludlow Ave., with the exception of three short sections where, because of the sharp bends in the Canal, the line is deflected to the west and runs, in the open, over private lands.  The first deflection is between Straight St. and Marshall St.; the second is north of Bates Ave. across from the lands owned mostly by the City and used as the City Workhouse* farms; the third is just south of Ludlow Ave.   From the end of the subway section to Mitchell Ave. the tracks are generally in the open following, as nearly as practicable, the west or north bank of the Canal leaving the other side for the Boulevard.  Near Clifton Ave. the line crosses the Canal right-of-way fourtimes [sic] becoming a covered subway at each of these places to permit the Boulevard to pass over it.

From Mitchell Ave. to St. Bernard the line follows the Canal right-of-way, in the open.  At St. Bernard a sharp bend in the Canal again makes necessary a deflection to the west and the railway passes under Carthage Ave. [Vine St.] and private property in a subway, to a point a short distance north of Ross Ave.  Here the line leaves the Canal and turns eastward, in the open, passing over private property to Broerman Ave. near the Jarecki Chemical Company's works.  Between Broerman and Imwalle Avenues the subway type of construction is used again.

From Imwalle Ave. the line runs eastward, in the open, crossing over Ross Ave. about 500ft. to the east of St. Mary's Cemetery, over Paddock Rd. about 160ft. south of Ross Ave., under the N.&W. R. R., over Reading Rd. and continues along the hillside south of Ross Run to the B.&O. S-W R. R., at Section Ave., Norwood.  Between St. Bernard and Norwood the railway is on private property located far enough south of the B.&O. S-W R. R. to avoid obstructing possible industrial developments along the steamroad and also to permit future streets to be laid out passing, with easy grades, either over or under the B.&O. S-W R. R.  At Section Ave. the line crosses under the B.&O. S-W R. R. and continues easterly mostly as a subway along the railroad right-of-way, Harris Ave. and other private property to near Beech St.  Here it turns southward, again crossing under the B.&O. S-W R.R., and continues along Beech St., in the open, except at street crossings, to Duck Creek Rd.  Crossing over Duck Creek Rd. it turns southwest, passes, in a subway, under Edmonson Rd. and continues in the open on the east side of Duck Creek, crossing under the N.&W. R. R. and over Vista Ave. to a ravine a short distance south of Vista Ave.  In this ravine the line turns southward and runs, in the open, to Owls Nest Park where it changes to a subway and, as such, crosses under the Park and Madison Rd. to the west side of Torrence ravine.  Continuing southward in the open for a short distance, the line then turns southwestward and, by tunnel, passes through the point of the hill emerging south of Keys Crescent and then continuing in the open along the side of the hill crosses over Humbolt Ave. a short distance east of McMillan St. and continues to the Ohio River Bluff above Columbia Ave.  From here the line runs westerly in the open, along the bluff above Colubmia Ave., crossing over Kemper Lane, to near the Eden Park Reservoir.  Here it turns westward and, by tunnel, passes under Mt. Adams and, in a subway, under Gilbert Ave., the C. L. & N. R. R., private property and Canal St. to the place of beginning at Vine St.

The total length of the line is 15.56 miles, of which 6.50 miles are in subway, 0.63 miles in tunnels and 8.43 miles in the open.  Included in the open are twenty bridges with a total length of 2,206ft. and 6,100ft. concrete trestle along the Ohio River Bluff.

The reasons for adopting a concrete trestle type of construction along the river bluff are as follows:

The earth formation in this vicinity is made up of horizontal strata of lime stone from one to eight inches in thickness, separated by strata of shale from two inches to three feet in thickness.  The shale, when exposed to air, disintegrates and makes a clay.  The disintegration of the shale and the general downward sliding movement of the earthy material along the whole bluff have, in the course of time, covered the entire hillside to various depths with a clayey earth in which are imbedded fragments of limestone.  In various places water, following along some of the limestone strata, appears on the surface making a plastic material of the clayey earth.

There is probably some downward movement of this loose earth covering along the whole bluff, but the movement is very noticeable where the ground is wet.  The whole bluff appears to be in a state of uncertain equilibrium and any disturbance of the loose earth tends to cause the whole hillside to moved downward till a new equilibrium is obtained.

The unreliability of making embankments on this hillside is illustrated by the sliding in many places of Columbia Ave., where it is, in part, made by an earth embankment.  The result of excavating trenches or benches along the hillside is illustrated by the sliding of the earth over a considerable area where retaining walls are built at the grade crossing elimination work no in progress on Eastern Ave., east of Kemper Lane.

The problem is to devise a method of supporting the tracks that will be permanent and disturb the surface as little as possible.  Piles can not be used as they could not be driven into the shales and limestone.  The plan adopted is to construct concrete piers about 30ft. apart with their foundations sunk and keyed into the undisturbed material.  These piers are to be connected by reinforced concrete beams on which is laid a reinforced concrete floor and the track will be laid in ballast on this concrete floor.  The grade of the track is such that the ground is not disturbed between the piers.  The width of the trenches is which the piers are built is about one-tenth of the span between the piers.  The concrete piers will act as an anchor holding back and tending to prevent a downward movement of the earth.

The grades of the proposed boulevard have not been officially determined, but grades have been assumed in making these estimates and unless these assumed grades are approximately followed, it will have some effect upon the estimates hereto attached.  The cost of paving and grading of streets, that cross or end at the Canal, to make them conform to the Boulevard grade has not been included in the estimates.  The removal of all the bridges, no crossing the Canal, is contemplated, with the exception of four; viz.: -- those at Brighton**, Marshall Ave., Hopple St. and Ross Ave.  These should be left in the present location, the elevation only being subject to change.

*The subway would have emerged in front of the old Camp Washington Workhouse, which was demolished around 1990.
**The Brighton Bridge was rebuilt in 1928, and is still in use.  The three others were dismantled.


Stations are to be built with 240ft. platforms, with provisions for extension to 400ft.

There are 14 stations in Scheme I, spaced about one mile apart and located as follows:

CANAL STATION is in Canal St. between Vine and Race Streets, with exits and entrances at both of these streets.  This station is made larger than the others because it will be the terminus for baggage and light express articles handled by the several interurban lines.  Switches are here provided that will permit the interurban cars to make their return trip.

LIBERTY STATION, 0.68 miles from Canal Station, is in the Canal right-of-way with entrances and exits at Liberty St.

BRIGHTON STATION, 1.68 miles from Canal Station, is in the Canal right-of-way.  The exact position of this station is fixed by two curves in the track alignment that will just permit the station being located between them.  Because of the narrow right-of-way in this place, part of the station will be under the walls of the bridge approach.  Connection with the surface is obtained by a ramp and a short stairway station at the intersection of the Brighton Bridge approach and Colerain Ave.  The two platforms of the station are connected by a passageway under the tracks.

HOPPLE STATION, 2.76 miles from Canal Station, is located in the Canal right-of-way at Hopple St. with entrances and exits at Hopple St.  The choice of this location for a station was largely due to the Hopple St. Viaduct  now under construction over Mill Creek Bottoms.

LUDLOW STATION, 3.90 miles from Canal Station, is located on private land land south of Ludlow Ave. with entrances and exits at Ludlow Ave.  This is the first station in the open.

CRAWFORD STATION, 4.68 miles from Canal Station, is located along the west side of the Canal opposite the end of Crawford Ave.  A passageway under the tracks permits access to both platforms from either side of the tracks.  The principal reason for a station at this place is that Crawford Ave. is the terminus of the Ohio Electric Railway.  [College Hill Interurban]

MITCHELL STATION, 5.74 miles from Canal Station, is an elevated structure, over Mitchell Ave., located on private land to the west of the Canal with entrance and exit at Mitchell Ave.

ST. BERNARD STATION, 6.56 miles from Canal Station, is in a subway, on private land to the west of the Canal between Carthage Ave. [Vine St.] and Ross Ave. with entrances and exits at Carthage Ave.

PADDACK [sic] STATION is 7.70 miles going west from Canal Station and 7.86 miles going east from Canal Station.  It is an elevated structure on private land to the east of Paddack Rd. with exit and entrance at Paddack Rd.

MONTGOMERY STATION, 8.94 miles going east from Canal Station and 6.62 miles going east from Canal Station, is in the open and on private land to the north of the B.&O. S-W R. R. and west of Montgomery Ave. with entrance and exit at Montgomery Ave.  With little additional expense a passageway can be constructed under the tracks of the B.&O. S-W R. R. to this station from the steam railroad station.

FOREST STATION, 6.06 miles going east from Canal Station is on private lands south of Harris Ave. and east of Forest Ave.  It is partly in the open and partly under cover, with entrance and exit at Forest Ave.

OAKLEY STATION, 5.21 miles going east from Canal Station, is in a subway on private land on the east side of Duck Creek opposite Smith Rd.*  Entrances and exits are at Dacey Ave.

DANA STATION, 4.50 miles going east from Canal Station, is in the open on private land to the east of Duck Creek and between the N.&W. R. R. and Vista Ave.  The City has considered the building of a viaduct over Duck Creek Valley on the line of Dana Ave.  Should this viaduct be built this station could, without making alteration, be connected with it.

MADISON STATION, 3.39 miles going east from Canal Station, is on private land to the south of Madison Rd.  It is partly covered and partly in the open, with entrances and exits at Madison Rd.

*The "Oakley Station" was in the vicinity of today's I-71 Smith-Edwards interchange.  The loop was to run along the exact path of I-71 between this interchange and the Dana Ave. interchange.


Subway in RED, stations in YELLOW

Scheme II supplements Scheme I and is a loop line that encloses a large part of the downtown district of the City.  It leaves the "Canal St. Belt Line" at the intersection of Canal and Plum St. and runs south in Plum St. to 5th St., east in 5th St. to Main St., and north in Main St. connecting with the Belt Line in Canal St.  This loop is a two-track subway throughout, 1.31 miles in length, making with the Belt Line a total of 16.87 miles.  There are three station located upon it.  One in Plum St. with entrances and exits at both 7th and 8th streets.  One in Fountain Square with entrances and exits at both Vine and Walnut Streets, and one in Main St. with entrances and exits at both 7th and 8th streets.  These entrances and exits are all from the sidewalks.

The cost of the Loop Railway per lineal foot is considerably more than the cost of the Subway in the Canal, largely due to the presence in the streets of sewers, electric ducts, water and gas pipes which will have to be supported during the construction of the subway, or removed to a new location, the extra precautions required because of the nearness of large buildings, the removing and restoring of the pavements and the delays in construction due to business and traffic in the streets.

It is assumed the work will be done in an open trench not more than 400ft. of continuous street, including only one cross street, being open at one time.

Scheme I and Scheme II supplement each other and together make an ideal transit plan.  Scheme I or the "Canal Street Belt Line" surrounds a residential district.  Scheme II or the "Loop Line" encloses a large part of the business district, the prosperity and permanence of which largely depends upon the conveying of the residents of the City to and from their business houses in the shortest time and with the least inconvenience."


Subway in RED, stations in YELLOW

Scheme III or the "Ninth St. Belt Line" includes Scheme I with the exception of that part east of Plum St. in Canal St. and under Mt. Adams to near the Eden Park Reservoir.  For the part omitted, the following route has be substituted:  from the intersection of Plum and Canal Streets south in Plum St. to 5th St., east in 5th St. to Walnut St., north in Walnut St. to 8th St., east in 9th St. and under Mt. Adams to connect with Scheme I near the Eden Park Reservoir.

The substituted part is a two-track subway or tunnel throughout.  The total length of the scheme is 16.31 miles, which includes 7.07 miles of subway, 0.80 miles of tunnel and 8.44 miles in the open.  Canal Station is omitted and three stations added as follows:  one in Plum St. with entrances and exits at both 7th and 8th Streets, one on Fountain Square with entrances and exits at both Vine and Walnut Streets, and one in 9th St. with entrances and exits at both Main and Sycamore Streets.  In this scheme it is assumed that all interurban baggage and express matter will be handled at the Plum St. Station.

The object of this scheme is to reduce the cost of the combined Schemes I and II and retain the advantages of the stations in the business district.  A subway and station in Canal St. may be added at any time traffic conditions require it.


Subway in RED, elevated in BLUE, stations in YELLOW

Scheme IV, or the "Pearl St. Belt Line," includes Scheme I with the exception of that part east of Walnut St. in Canal St. and under Mt. Adams to near the Eden Park Reservoir.  For the part omitted the following route has been substituted:  from the intersection of Canal and Walnut Streets south in Walnut St. to Pearl St., then east in Pearl and Martin Streets and private property to connect with Scheme I near the Eden Park Reservoir.

The substituted part is a two-track subway in Walnut St. from Canal St. to 4th St.  Between 4th and 3rd Streets, the tracks, on a rising grade, break through the ground and continue on a rising grade till they are on a steel elevated structure on 3rd St.  The elevated structure is continued in Pearl and Martin Streets and over private property to connect with Scheme I near the Eden Park Reservoir.  The total length of the scheme is 16.46 miles, which includes 6.40 miles of subway, 0.15 miles of tunnel, 1.44 miles of elevated structure and 8.47 miles in the open.  The location of Canal Station is changed from between Vine and Race Streets to between Race and Elm Streets and three stations are added, one on Walnut St. with entrances and exits at both 8th and 9th Streets, one on Walnut St. with entrances at both Fountain Square and near 4th St., and one on Pearl St. at the approach to the  L&N Bridge  with entrances and exits at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station.

This unofficial graphic illustrates the route of the proposed Pearl St. Viaduct in red and
Walnut St. subway in blue over a 1950's shot of the riverfront.

By use of an elevated structure in the substituted route in the place of a subway or tunnel, the cost of construction is considerably reduced.  Although nine-tenths of a mile longer than Scheme I, the cost is about the same.*

In the downtown district the number and locations of the stations is Scheme IV offer almost as many advantages to those who would make use of the railway as do the combined stations of Schemes I and II and at a much less total cost.  If at some future time, it were deemed necessary to place the tracks of the Kentucky surface lines that are in this City in a subway, the connection with the Cincinnati Rapid Transit Railway could not be so advantageously made under the plans of Scheme IV as under the plans of Schemes II and III.

Changing from a subway to an elevated structure on Walnut St. between 4th and 3rd Streets, makes it necessary to occupy a strip of the street 25ft. in width for practically the entire distance between those two streets.  There will remain 20.5ft. on each side for street purposes.   Allowing 8ft. for a sidewalk and 1ft. as a hubguard to protect the fence along the open incline track, there will remain 11.5ft. clear space for  roadway which will make necessary a one-way street.

*Elsewhere in the web page the Pearl St. el is called the "3rd St. el", because neither Pearl St. or Martin St. still exist.  Pearl St. paralleled 3rd St. where the mainline trench of Fort Washington Way is today, and the el would have roughly followed the route of the U.S. 50 3rd St. Viaduct to Mt. Adams.

The recommendations of the Commission and their relations to the plans submitted are as follows:

FIRST RECOMMENDATION:  "A Belt Line from Canal St. through Mt. Adams to Torrence Rd., to Norwood, to Bond Hill, to St. Bernard, and thence through the Canal to Canal St."

The route of Scheme I is along the line indicated.  [See 1914 Map ]

SECOND RECOMMENDATION:  "Two tracks throughout the system with a third track at stations for express service and four tracks from 12th St. south to Canal St. and east to Sycamore St."

Two tracks throughout are shown on the plans submitted.  The third track at stations for express service and the two additional tracks from 12th St. to Sycamore St. are omitted, as I believe traffic conditions will not warrant the expending at this time of the money necessary to lay these tracks.  Under the plans submitted and hereafter explained, the advantages derived from an express track would be very small.

THIRD RECOMMENDATION:  "An Interurban Subway passenger station on Canal St. between Sycamore and Plum St."

A general passenger station has been located on Canal St. between Vine and Race St.

Under any scheme where stations are located in the business section of the City, baggage and express packages should be handled at only one station and preference should be given to Canal Station.  Canal St., as proposed, is wide and the additional traffic due to the express and baggage business of the interurban lines would have little effect upon it.  The downtown streets are now congested and traffic should be removed rather than added to them.  For handling this class of interurban traffic, additions would have to be made to the stations, increasing the cost, and men would have to be especially employed to look after the business.  The prospective business does not appear sufficient to warrant this expense.  Articles carried by hand or vehicle, destined to be sent as baggage or express over the interurban lines, could, be but with little trouble be taken to the Canal Station.

FOURTH RECOMMENDATION:  "An Interurban surface freight station at Cheapside".

Cheapside is a strip of land about 130ft. wide extending from Court St. to 8th St. and lying between Sycamore St. and Broadway.  After allowing on each side a sidewalk 6ft. wide and a roadway 27.5ft. wide, there would remain a strip of land 63ft. wide and about 250ft. long between 8th and 9th Streets and about 270ft. long between 9th and Court Streets.  With two tracks along the center of this strip of land there would be accommodation for 24 cars each 40ft. in length with a combined receiving and delivery platform or shed 20ft. in width along one side of each track.  All switching of cars would be on the surface across 9th and Court Streets.  To obtain additional land in this vicinity would be very costly.

A recent view of Cheapside St., looking north.  "Cheapside" was originally a canal spur extending from near the
canal's turnaround pool where the intersection of Central Parkway, Eggleston, and Reading Rd. is today.  
It bisected two blocks south of the pool, between Sycamore St. and Broadway, and after the filling of the canal
was not immediately built upon.   The Hamilton County Justice Center, pictured above, obliterated one block
of the street but it remains, pictured here, between 8th and 9th St.
[September 2004 Jake Mecklenborg}

It was learned through correspondence with the officials of the several Interurban Railway Companies that they are now handling a total of about 24 cars of freight daily and all say that, with adequate terminal facilities near the center of the City, the freight service would be greatly increased.  They also state that freight terminals for interurban traffic built in other cities will supposed accommodation for many years, have, in a short time, due to increased business, become congested and unable to economically handle the business they receive.

For these reasons Cheapside does not appear to be a desirable location of an interurban freight terminal.  Several studies have been made for a freight terminal in Canal St., but none of them appear satisfactory.

The desired terminal should be centrally located, convenient to the Belt Line, upon land of comparative low cost on which no expensive improvements have been made, of sufficient area to provide for the future increase of business and the occupancy of which will not interfere with lines of street traffic.  The lot should be of such shape that tracks could be arranged so that the receiving or despatching [sic] of cars from any part of the yard could be accomplished with the least trouble.

The tract of land that, I think, comes nearest to fulfilling these conditions is bounded by 12th, Plum, and on 14th Streets, is crossed by no important street and there are no expensive buildings on it.  This terminal is more fully described in other parts of this report.  [See Early Subway Plans and Diagrams for a diagram of the proposed freight terminal]

FIFTH RECOMMENDATION:  "A covered subway on Canal St. from Broadway to Plum St., and on Plum St. from Canal St. to Liberty St.: The remainder of the Two-track system on the Canal right-of-way we recommend be in an open cut with a boulevard on each side".

An act of the Legislature, passed since the report of the Commission was made, prohibits the use of the proposed boulevard south of Dixmyth Avenue by any railway.  Because of this act the covered subway is extended to Bates Avenue, which is opposite Dixmyth Avenue.

It is presumed that some time in the future the Boulevard will be continued in the Canal north of Dixmyth Avenue* and, to provide for this extension, the Boulevard part of the plan has been given preference over the railway, to Mitchell Avenue.  The cost of the project can be reduced if the Boulevard part of the scheme is not considered.

The Canal when laid out followed as nearly as practicable a level contour winding in and out around the valleys and hills which resulted in a very crooked alignment, some of the bends being on a very short radius.  The Canal right-of-way is determined by the slope of the embankments and cuts made in building the Canal and is a strip of land of variable width.  The minimum width claimed by the State is 67ft., but in some places it will be difficult to obtain even this width.   If the bed of the Canal were followed by the railway the length of track would be increased and the safe speed at which cars could be operated would be greatly reduced.  The jerking movement of cars due to running on sharp curves at even a low rate of speed is very annoying to those riding in them.  To obtain a satisfactory alignment, the track frequently crosses from one side of the Canal to the other and in some cases entirely leaves the Canal right-of-way.  If a boulevard were laid out on each side of the track as recommended in the report of the Commission, it would, under the plans submitted, require the taking of considerable land and the doing of much grading.

Favoring the Boulevard, the tracks where they cross the Canal, have been depressed sufficiently to permit the Boulevard without a raise in grade, to pass over them.

*Dixmyth Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Drive in the 1970's, and was rerouted to intersect Central Parkway opposite Hopple St.  Bates Avenue now makes a 3-way intersection with the Parkway.

...Back to Section 1 

Section 2  Completion attempts
Section 3  The subway today
Section 4  Various proposals
Section 5  What might have been
Section 6  Future use

Construction Photos
Portal Photos
Brighton Station Photos
Linn St. Station Photos
Liberty St. Station Photos
Race St. Station Photos
Hopple St. Tunnel
Norwood Tunnels
1950's Photo Tour
Early Subway Plans and Diagrams
Subway Maps

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