The very first streetcar, which was drawn by four gray horses, went up Walnut St. on Sept. 4,1859. One of the rails was too low at 9th St. and the car left the tracks. The passengers (The Mayor, Councilmen, newspapermen etc) jumped off and lifted the car back on to the tracks. One child hanging onto the platform fell off and was run over. Thousands of people followed the streetcar to the end of its run. Going up hills with horse drawn streetcars could be done only with the use of additional horse power provided by a special hill-team of horses. Although reliant on horses and mules horsecars were a great improvement over the omnibuses (glorified stagecoaches) that were used before. The last horsecar was on Nov. 2,1903.
  If you would like to see some images of horsecars, click on the link above. These images were, for the most part, before the postcard era so they are all photographs. 
  For information on steam operated streetcars see the image below of the steam Dummy and follow the link above. As with horsecars these are photographs.
  By 1875 there were 14 separate lines with 1,000 horses pulling cars over 45 miles of track. Beginning in 1889 electric streetcars began taking over the transportation needs of the city. The route followed old Colerain Ave. 
   By 1888 Cincinnatians were finding horses and mules too slow and expensive for the day. The useful life of a horse was four years and they were exposed to a lot of abuse which did not set well with the public. The cable railways were expensive to build and maintain. The newest form of power, electricity, was considered the way to go.

1888 1st Electric Streetcars.jpg (1069363 bytes)
1st Electric Car

   As seen in the photograph above the first electric cars were operated by the Mt. Adams & Eden Park Inclined Railway Co. in 1888. Seen in the image two overhead wires powered the motor thru a "troller" at the end of a single pole. They used a former cable car body and it can be seen pulling a cable car. It was quickly determined that the two overhead wires were too close together and so the separation became greater and the single pole was exchanged to a double pole as seen in the image below. This was also a converted cable car.

Streetcar Two Pole Conversion.jpg (1150380 bytes)
2 Pole Conversion

  With electrification the streetcar system grew to 228 miles of track by 1920 with over 100 million rides a year. The corner of 5th and Walnut was considered to be the 6th busiest corner in the country for street railway crossings in the early part of the twentieth century. During peak traffic periods 380 streetcars per hour entered this corner. 

First Electric Streetcar-1889.jpg (1035132 bytes)
Electric Streetcar-1889

   Streetcars began delivering mail under contract with the U.S. Government in the 1890s. These specially converted cars ran until the service was discontinued in 1919. They had to be painted white due to government regulations.

1895 Mail Car.jpg (985380 bytes)
1895 Mail car


1890s Summer Car.jpg (642476 bytes)               Summer Car 12 1900s.jpg (470626 bytes)                 Open Air Car-Santiago.jpg (894855 bytes)
      1890s Summer Car                        1900s Summer Car 12                     The open air "Santiago"

   During the heat of summer there were summer cars. The sides were removed and the seating was arraigned with eight benches set across the car. The 2nd photograph shows a later version around the turn of the century. Called the "Santiago" it shows the car packed with children on an outing to the zoo.


1911 Traction Company routes.jpg (568980 bytes)
1911 Traction Company Routes


W.K. Schoepf.jpg (169095 bytes)        Foraker Jr. President Traction Co..jpg (254765 bytes)        J.H. Schoepf.jpg (65576 bytes)        Dana Stevens Vice Pres. & Gen. Mgr.jpg (140327 bytes)
Kelsey Schoepf         J. B. Foraker Jr.              J. H. Schoepf                 Dana Stevens 
        President               Vice President                Claim Agent                V.P. & Gen. Mgr.


These are not postcards                                                                    
High water cars-summary.jpg (647034 bytes)    High Water Car 2.jpg (608244 bytes)    High Water Car 3.jpg (123913 bytes)        Harrison & Colrain ave.jpg (98415 bytes)
 1915-Queen City Ave.      1937-Mitchel & Vine                                                                Corner Harrison & Colerain.

  During periods of high water some cars were raised and, in some cases, the tracks themselves were raised on railroad ties. The motors in a car were placed inside the car and they would push or pull the passenger  cars that would have their seating raised above the water. They were able to pass through water up to four feet deep. These cars were used from 1901 to 1940. The 2nd image above shows cars being prepared for use. The two cars shown were set at different flood levels.



   On Friday, May 9, 1913 the conductors and motormen of the Cincinnati Traction Company went on strike. The issues were wages and recognition of the employees' union. Some men joined the ranks of the strikers while others, fearing trouble, just stayed home. Firemen and engineers did not strike thus electric power was not stopped. Strike breakers from other cities were brought in to try and keep the cars running. It was on Monday, the 12th that the real effect of the strike became apparent. All the interurbans, (cars from other cities), refused to enter the city. The only car that ran undisturbed was the mail car. Strike breakers tried to make a dash out of the Avondale Car Barn with two cars but stalled when the trolley poles jumped the wires right in the middle of a group of strikers. The cars were finally started and went down the street followed by a car with four policemen and a mob of 200 angry strikers. The tracks in front of the cars were strewn with rocks, planks, bricks, and trucks faking engine trouble.
   Some cars did manage to make it into the downtown area; but one car was stopped as it left the Brighton Car Barn and set on fire. Two other cars were stopped by a mob at Sixth and Sycamore Streets and set on fire. One car was deserted by its crew in the downtown area and was demolished. Most cars were stoned and many just turned back and went to the car barns. That night no trolleys could be found on the streets.
   On Friday, May 16th, as a car circled Fountain Square, someone pushed a trash can in front of it. The car stalled when its fender became mashed under the front wheels. The mob tried to board the car to work over the motorman, but the policeman on board along with the passengers, and other strike breakers locked the doors, and pulled down the shades. The crowd was estimated to be about 10,000 people. They were finally dispersed by a fleet of autos containing policemen, and many mounted policemen. This type of occurrence happened all over the city that day. Many crews had to abandon their cars and flee for their lives as unruly mobs, who had no connection with the strikers or strikebreakers, attacked.
   On May 17th car 642 of the Elberon line was stopped by an obstruction in front of the Union Central Building, which was under construction at that time. Suddenly from almost every floor of the building came a barrage of barrels, cement blocks, and bags of cement. The crew had fled in terror when the barrage had first started. Police on the ground fired their pistols at the culprits. The construction crew huddled on a scaffold with concrete going in one direction and bullets going in the other. When the disturbance was over the streetcar had been reduced to rubble.

These are not  postcards
Cincinnati-Streetcar strikers.jpg (76290 bytes)                Streetcar Strike-5-16-1913.jpg (115909 bytes)                Car Strike 1-1913.jpg (211456 bytes)                Car Strike-1913.jpg (186509 bytes)
     Strikers parading                     Walnut St. Between 5th & 6th         Chief Copeland protecting car             Police protecting car

Street car Riot.jpg (143782 bytes)            Streetcar Strike-car burns.jpg (142065 bytes)            Car strike mob.jpg (111805 bytes)            Streetcar Strike-RPPC.jpg (193795 bytes)
Firemen dousing streetcar                      Streetcar burning                5th and Walnut shortly after                                                      
 set on fire during riot.                                                                      mob was dispersed during strike                                              


1913 Streetcar strike.jpg (228786 bytes)*
5th & Walnut
*Thanks to Mike Lynch

   When the strike started the employees were making 23 cents per hour.  The strike ended May 19th when the company agreed to recognize the union and an arbitration board was set up. This board met for one month and worked out an agreement that called for 23 cents per hour to start, 25 cents after two years, and 28 cents per hour after five years. The most important part of the agreement was that in the future there would be no work stoppage over any differences between the parties but, instead, would rely on an impartial Board of Arbitration to settle the problem.


Streetcar Strike 3.jpg (188265 bytes)                    Street Car Strike-rp.jpg (85563 bytes)                     streetcar strike.jpg (90400 bytes)
    Waiting for a car                                    Strike! I walk                              Getting around  during
                                                                                                                          streetcar strike

   The three cards above are composite cards. The figures were cut out of one postcard and pasted on the background postcards, thus producing a comedic postcard.


Price Hill Incline wreck.jpg (114493 bytes)
1907  Elberon Ave. wreck.
Price Hill

   This accident occurred on October 16, 1907. This was one of the worst Traction Company accidents that ever happened. The brake chain broke on the Elberon Ave. car that was going down the long hill at Mt. Hope. The brake shoes were in very poor condition. The careening streetcar swung into a curve, left the tracks, toppled over and went  down a 25' embankment. All the passengers were injured and two died, with nine of the injured being hospitalized. The Traction Company was not indicted because the court found there was no applicable statute to cover it.


Chester park car.jpg (110299 bytes)                        Harrison station.jpg (72839 bytes)                        Car Barn North Bend & Hamilton.jpg (457855 bytes)
   East End Car at                                   Hamilton Ave. at North Bend                                Not a postcard    
Eastern & Archer                                Depot. College Hill car in shed                                                           


Streetcar passing 2 E.2nd St..jpg (137852 bytes)*                                        1923 Streetcar Routes.jpg (681971 bytes)
               2nd St                                                                       1923 Streetcar Routes

    The postcard image above shows a streetcar approaching Vine St. The Flach Brothers Grocery was located at 2 East 2nd Street.



    The Hiawatha
Hiawatha-RPPC.jpg (162994 bytes)        Hiawatha.jpg (325265 bytes)         Hiawatha 3 1948.jpg (120680 bytes)
    Fairfield Loop                                          Unknown Areas                     

   Written on the back of the 1st postcard it says, "A double trolley pole used in Cincinnati. The only Canadian type observatory car ever used in the U. S". In 1939 an attempt to revive attendance on streetcars was made by introducing this open air observation car. The old streetcar #1894 had its top removed at the window sill line. The seats were terraced up a grade from the front so that everyone of its 46 passengers would have an unobstructed view forward, upward, and to both sides. The postcard above shows the Hiawatha stopping at the Fairfield Loop for those wanting to take pictures. The last two images are not postcards.

Maketewah Mt. Adams Incline.jpg (290165 bytes)        Maketewah (1).jpg (331436 bytes)        Maketewah (2).jpg (266991 bytes)
Mt. Adams                  W. 8th at Elberon                      4th & Walnut    

    The Hiawatha was so successful a second car was built from car #1891 and named the "Maketewah". Costing 25 cents the Hiawatha made three two-hour trips from 4th & Walnut Sts. every evening and 5 trips on Sundays and holidays.  Put in service in 1939 it serviced the eastern part of the city while the Hiawatha serviced the western parts. The 3 Maketewah images are photographs.


Streetcar employee 2.jpg (47098 bytes)         RP Group Conductors.jpg (170943 bytes)           Streetcar employee1.jpg (37885 bytes)
                 Streetcar conductors                                         Motorman 

   You can generally tell the street car conductor from the motorman by the coin changer attached to their waist. 



   Interurbans connected large cities with small towns all over the Midwest. The state of Ohio had more miles of track than any other state in the nation. There were nine major rail lines that converged in Cincinnati. Four of these lines stopped at, or near, the city limits. (These lines did not use the wide rail gauge that Cincinnati used.) Passengers would have to transfer to the city's streetcars in order to complete their trip. This arrangement slowed down the interurbans "fast" image considerably. The other five interurban lines that used the wide rail gauge tracks entered the city using the local streetcar tracks. Their speed had to be reduced to an average of 6 mph to reach the downtown terminal. While inside the city limits they also had to operate as regular streetcars, picking up and dropping off passengers at the regular stops.

                                    Not a postcard
Traction Terminals.jpg (101852 bytes)        Interurban Terminals 2.jpg (181926 bytes)

Kings Mill Interurban Tressel.jpg (87626 bytes)        Interurban 119.jpg (100239 bytes)        Red Devils NEW.jpg (94683 bytes)        Interurban Car 118.jpg (317224 bytes)
 Interurban Trestle                  Red Devil interurban                                                                                                        

   The Interurban Traction Terminals were located downtown on the west side of Sycamore Street between 4th & 5th Sts. The IR&T ran from 1903 to 1922 and consisted of 3 divisions: the Suburban to Bethel, Rapid Railway to Lebanon, and the Cincinnati and Eastern to New Richmond. The third one shows one of the famous Red Devil  interurban cars. They operated between Cincinnati and Detroit traveling at 80-90 mph and were built in Winton Place. The last card is car #118 that was one of 20 interurbans used by the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad in 1930. It was sold in 1938 to the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway where it was used until 1953 when it was sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.


Brighton Station.jpg (105916 bytes)                    RR crossing-aa.jpg (109449 bytes)                    dup-Sedamsville Streetcar.jpg (242944 bytes)
              Brighton Station                        Crossing at Eastern Ave & Delta                  Sedamsville car-River Rd.     
                                                                                                                                        in high water


John Street car NEW.jpg (126503 bytes)              Westwood Cheviot NEW.jpg (84175 bytes)               Winchell ave car house NEW.jpg (102574 bytes)

   The first card above is a John Street car at the end of the line on Quebec Road in South Fairmount. The second one shows the Westwood-Cheviot car at the end of the line in Cheviot. It cost 10c and you could transfer to any car line in the city. The last card shows the interior of the Winchell Avenue car house. You can see one of the cars has a sign for the Ball Park. After a big game 50 cars were parked at old Redland Field to take the fans home.


Chester Park Shops.jpg (257768 bytes)                    Cincinnati Car Co.jpg (285321 bytes)
Chester Park Shops                                    Interior                    

   In the 1890s the Cincinnati Street Railway built an 8 acre facility next to Chester Park which they also owned. Built for the maintenance and reconstruction of its rolling stock, plus the manufacturing of its own cars. The layout above gives a rough picture of the park and shop. The 2nd non-postcard image shows a section of the interior.

Winton Shop aerial.jpg (1100939 bytes)

   The land directly across Spring Grove Avenue from Chester Park was also owned by the Street Railway Company and was mainly used as a storage yard. The view of the picture above shows Spring Grove Avenue (The curved street in the lower left corner), Clifton Avenue crossing the Mill Creek (lower right corner), the King Machine Tool Company on Clifton Ave. Directly to the left of the King building on the other side of the RR tracks is the Winton Place Depot. Chester Park is not shown on the left edge. Mitchell Avenue is going from the left edge to the top-right corner.
   Directly behind the King building (next to water tower), is the Railway's storage house, which was larger when it was first constructed in 1912. At full capacity it was able to store up to 374 cars. During the Winter the Summer cars would be brought into this building, their bodies would be removed from their trucks and closed car bodies would be mounted. In the Summer the open air bodies would be installed.
   In 1928 the Cincinnati Street Railway constructed the large building seen in the center of the above image and in the two views below. The second one was taken in the winter so the foliage did not block the view. The third image is a rough layout of this plant. It was called the Winton car shop and was used to repair and refurbish the company's rolling stock.

Winton Shops 2.jpg (447075 bytes)        Winton Shops 1.jpg (435192 bytes)        Winton Shop layout.jpg (384728 bytes)
Winton Car Shop-1928                            1935                                    Plant Layout        

   In the first image above you can see parts of Chester Park in the background. The large domed building near the center was Hilarity Hall. You can also see parts of the roller coaster. As you can see from the layout there were only two doors for cars to enter the building. One at the top and one on the bottom. The transfer table, running the full length of the building, would pick up each car and move it to what ever stall it needed to be sent to. Cars were scheduled to be overhauled every 60,000 miles. They would first enter the sand blast room where all paint was removed and it was cleaned inside and out. It would then go to the wash room and then to the truck repair department where the body would be lifted off the trucks and placed on light shift trucks and moved to the various departments to be worked on. The large storeroom building was connected to the main building by underground corridors. When repairs were completed the car would go thru the paint booth. This operation took three days. The wheels and axles for the trucks were stored in the basement and were raised and lowered by heavy duty elevators. After a complete inspection the cars were ready for duty.


       Mt Lookout Dummy.jpg (102209 bytes)       The Y Mt.jpg (96258 bytes)
                  The Dummy Car.                  Just a nice streetcar      

   The center postcard above shows a steam-powered car often refered to as a "steam dummy". This card is showing the car crossing the bridge over Crawfish Creek, at what is now Mount Lookout Square. This line started at Pendleton Avenue and went to Mount Lookout along Crawfish Road (now known as Delta Avenue), around 1888. For more information on these cars click on the link on top.


Vine Norwood line.jpg (111756 bytes)   *Vine St Streetcar.jpg (76543 bytes)     Vine Norwood Streetcar.jpg (619312 bytes)      Streetcar for Winton Place & Chester Park.jpg (204676 bytes)      Lockland-Milcreek Valley Streetcar.jpg (478754 bytes)
                                  Vine St. to Norwood cars                                                  Winton Place            Millcreek Valley Line
                                                                                                                            Chester Park                    To Lockland

   The streetcars shown in the first three cards were built in 1910. The car 1605 in the last image was built around 1905.


Streetcar 1709.jpg (233657 bytes)        Madisonville Streetcar-Chester.jpg (229084 bytes)        1960s Streetcar  No.4561.jpg (582632 bytes)

   Car 1709, in the second image, was built in 1907 and it has a Norwood destination on top. The 3rd image shows a Madisonville car with a Chester Park destination. The last one shows car # 4561 shown in Toronto after being sold in 1950.


Electric Interurbans.jpg (310148 bytes)            Red Devil Race.jpg (221517 bytes)
Cincinnati interurbans

   The 1st image above lists all the electric interurbans that came to Cincinnati. The second image is an article telling about the race that was held between a Red Devil and a plane.


cut trolly car.jpg (1377280 bytes)                Car 2435 Last Day Seen at History Museum.jpg (1303834 bytes)
Museum Streetcar

   The 1st image above is the interior of the streetcar that is on display at the Cincinnati Historical Museum. The 2nd photograph shows this streetcar #2435 on the last day of operation on its Clifton-Ludlow Route 61 in 1949.


1951 Last Streetcar Run.jpg (1013167 bytes)
Last Streetcar Run

   On April 29, 1951 the last streetcar finished its run at 5:55 a. m. at the corner of Fifth and Vine Sts. The photograph above shows the Route 18 North Fairmount completing its "night owl" run with an electric trolley bus following behind to take over the route.


Car Routes Last Day.jpg (386262 bytes)
Last Day of Route



   The proposed subway system that was never completed is a subject that I will expand on sometime in the future. The only postcard I have on the subject is this one. It shows the 1st ground level station that would have been reached after leaving the underground portion of the system. It was located on Marshall Avenue in Camp Washington.

Camp Washington station-Subway-PC.jpg (319007 bytes)
Camp Washington station