IR&T - Interurban Railway & Terminal


Three 5'-2 1/2" lines out of Cincinnati comprised this company. The first was built along the Ohio River to New Richmond (19 miles) in 1902 by the Cincinnati and Eastern Electric Railway. The second, the Suburban Traction Company, opened a line to Bethel (32 miles) in June 1903, and the third, the Rapid Railway, finished a line northeast to Lebanon (33 miles) in October of the same year. The three companies were consolidated in 1902. This company was also badly damaged by the flood of 1913, and in 1914 went into a receivership from which it was never removed. The Bethel line was particularly weak, since most of it was within sight of the Cincinnati Georgetown and Portsmouth, a somewhat stronger company. The IR&T Bethel line had the advantage of entry into the downtown area over the Cincinnati Street Railway, but this was not enough to save it, and it was abandoned in 1918. The remaining lines to Lebanon and New Richmond were abandoned in 1923. (From: Hilton, George W. and John F. Due, The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press, 1960)


IR&T - Interurban Railway & Terminal: Rapid Railway

Kennedy Heights - Lebanon

1903-1922

Broad Gauge

Constructed by the Interurban Railway & Terminal Co., 1903

Abandoned, 1922

 

Like the other IR&T lines, this one had a relatively short and uneventful life. It was the strongest of the IR&T routes by quite a large margin, with 1.3 million passengers in 1912, actually beating out the CG&P and only a little less than the CL&A. This traffic no doubt was mostly siphoned off of the parallel CL&N Railroad which predated it by 20-some years and was operating slower steam service. There had originally been a plan to run a branch line from South Lebanon (where the power plant was located) to Morrow, but this was never built. It ran on Montgomery Avenue, continuing past the end of the streetcar route, originally at Fenwick Avenue in Norwood, but later from Coleridge Avenue in Kennedy Heights. This, and the other IR&T lines traveled over streetcar lines to reach downtown. Past Silverton, the IR&T became single track, and it paralleled the CL&N north through Deer Park along the west side of Blue Ash Road. Most of the route in this area is now used as parking along the street, but large power lines remain. The old carbarn is still standing at 7234 Blue Ash Road, now occupied by Stewart Industries. The line then ran along Kenwood and hooked back up with the CL&N on its own right-of-way to Butler County. There was a short branch line to Montgomery, exactly paralleling a branch line for the CL&N. Overall the Rapid Railway is well represented by power lines, and the route is quite apparent through Mason and Kings Mills. Daniel Bingamon's house in Kings Mills is the old station, and the right-of-way is pretty evident going down into the Little Miami Valley behind there. There's not much to see between there and Lebanon, however there are still tracks buried under the streets of downtown Lebanon. Cracks were telegraphing through the pavement on Mulberry Street as of 2006. This is very likely the only instance of actual interurban era tracks remaining anywhere in the Cincinnati area.

 

Photographs from Pleasant Ridge to Lebanon

 


IR&T - Interurban Railway & Terminal: Suburban Traction Company

Columbia - Bethel

1903-1918

Broad Gauge

Constructed by the Interurban Railway & Terminal Co., 1903

Abandoned, 1918

 

This was probably the worst conceived route for any of Cincinnati's interurbans. The IR&T line to Bethel was in direct competition with the CG&P that had been around for 30 years already (not that competition was uncommon in the industry). Regardless, the IR&T and the CG&P fought with one another on several occasions, but despite their competitive nature, they did cooperate on certain occasions, especially during floods or other disasters. One of the most contentious points, however, was the Donham Avenue Viaduct in Columbia. This single track viaduct was built to take the IR&T and the CG&P over the PRR/Little Miami Railroad to connect with the East End streetcar line. Because the two roads used this single track viaduct, going in both directions, it was frequently the site of delays. There are also reports of cars from one company blocking cars from the other company, and taking their passengers (usually the ones going to Coney Island amusement park). When the PRR line was elevated, both the CG&P and this line made the connection with the streetcars a little further to the northwest at Stanley Avenue, and the viaduct was removed. While the IR&T connected with the East End streetcar line here, the CG&P built a loop and a stucco station/office building just south of the PRR viaduct, in the park opposite Stacon Street. Competition from the CG&P, as well as the rather sparse population along the line, made for a rather short life. There had been talks of the CG&P taking over portions of the route, but it never happened. Ridership in 1912 was only 553,000, worse than the C&C and CM&L, though better than the Cincinnati & Eastern division which had only 357,000 passengers that same year, but these were the two weakest lines in the entire Cincinnati system.

 

The IR&T basically followed Kellogg Avenue on a double track route from Columbia to Coney Island. The single track lines to Bethel and New Richmond branched off at Sutton Road and the entrance to Coney Island. The Bethel line then went up the hill along Sutton, merging with and diverging from it many times along the way. From Columbia to Mt. Washington, there isn't much to see aside from a little grading along Sutton. Upon reaching Beechmont Avenue, there was a stub that went north for a few blocks to serve the Mt. Washington business district (this stub is shown on all maps, but it never extended north/west any farther, despite what the PUCO map shows). From this point on the IR&T followed Beechmont Avenue into Clermont County, and all the way to Bethel. Due to the relatively recent suburbanization of Anderson Township, and the prolific street running of the railway, there's nothing much left in Hamilton County. Though there are many utility poles all along Beechmont Avenue/Ohio Pike, they're not really a good indicator of the IR&T's location since the road has been so significantly widened.

 

Photographs from California & Mt. Washington

 

 

IR&T - Interurban Railway & Terminal: Cincinnati & Eastern Electric Railway

Columbia - New Richmond

1902-1922

Broad Gauge

Constructed by the Interurban Railway & Terminal Co., 1902

Abandoned, 1922

 

Not to be confused with the Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad, predecessor to the Norfolk & Western's Peavine route that also had a branch to New Richmond, this IR&T line is not quite as ludicrous as the one through Mt. Washington, but it still competed with the CG&P that had a short branch to Coney Island. After this single track line branched off from the Suburban Traction route to Bethel at Coney island, it flirted with US-52 on its way to New Richmond. It diverged from the road in many places, and ran on the road farther to the east, bearing to the north/east onto what is now Old Kellogg near Clermont County. Since the right-of-way was sandwiched between the river and the hillside, there were very few riders between California and New Richmond. As mentioned above, ridership on this branch line was only 357,000 in 1912, less than 1,000 passengers per day, making it the weakest interurban line in Cincinnati by quite a large margin. However, the interesting terrain would have made for a beautiful ride. Because of that rough terrain, landslides, floods, street running, and later construction of US-52, there is very little of this line left to see, save for some stone bridge abutments over Twelvemile Creek at the northern edge of New Richmond.

 

Photographs from California & New Richmond

 

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