PRICE HILL INCLINE
In October of 1906 two wagons each pulled by two horses loaded onto the freight car at the bottom of the hill. The incline began the 5 minute climb to the top. Unfortunately the one inch steel cable, that had been installed in 1874, had never been replaced and was almost rusted through by acid from animal offal. Six feet from the top of the 1500 foot rise this cable snapped. The driver of one wagon dove into the load of manure he was hauling. The driver of the other wagon was hauling a load of sand and he also laid out on his load. Unfortunately the four horses were horribly mangled and were mercifully shot by one of Cincinnati's mounted policemen. The two drivers were miraculously uninjured. The hilltop operator narrowly escaped injury when the platform on the other end of the broken cable shot up the hill due to the 10' diameter cable drum spinning in the opposite direction. The empty platform car jumped the tracks smashing into his booth, the operator jumped down the stairway just in time.
Price Hill Incline Wreck
At the top of the incline was the Price Hill House. The hill itself was referred to as "Buttermilk Mountain" because the inclines owner was a teetotaler and allowed no alcohol to be served, buttermilk being the strongest beverage allowed. That is the reason why a saloon at the bottom of the incline was called the Last Chance Saloon for people going up the incline. For those people coming down the incline there was the First Chance Saloon across the street. In addition to the Price Hill House there was a park and a summer garden with seating along the edge of the bluff to enjoy the fantastic view. The large German population overruled the no alcohol ban within 10 years. In its heyday the resort at the top caused horses and wagons to stand in line for blocks waiting their turn to go up the hill. From 1889 to 1894 the number of passengers carried on the incline was over a million a year in spite of the fact that the saloons in Price Hill were closed on Sundays and there were no concerts. The peak of 1,511,409 passengers was reached in 1894. The next 2 years saw a drastic decline of 50% each year due to Cincinnati Street Railway's Eighth St. Line running through to Price Hill thus by-passing the incline.
The image above is a 1920 sign listing the fares for the freight side of the Price Hill Incline. The Incline was trying to stay solvent against the increasing use of trucks and other vehicles bypassing the incline.
The Fairview Incline was the only passenger incline to begin by hauling streetcars and end with a stationary cab; all the other inclines began by hauling people in cabs and ended by carrying streetcars and other vehicles, except Price Hill which always used cabs (on the passenger side). It started on McMicken Avenue at Browne St. Due to a new streetcar route up the hill being started the Incline closed on Dec. 24, 1923.
BELLEVUE / ELM STREET / CLIFTON INCLINE
These re not postcards
McMicken House McMicken Hall-other side
The land next to the Incline was owned by Charles McMicken, a prominent real estate speculator and businessman. He lived in the house seen in the first photograph above. Although having very little education himself, when he died in 1858, he bequeathed $1 million to the city to found a university. From 1875 to 1895 this building was McMicken Hall, University of Cincinnati's Academic Department. From 1896 to 1917 it became the University's first medical college, and from 1920 to 1925 it became the Law School. This building can be seen in these cards next to the incline. Commuters often complained about the medical students habit of waving dismembered arms & legs out the windows at the female passengers as the trolleys passed. Next to the school was the Schoenling Brewery where the freezer was used for both cadavers and beer.
Real Photo Postcards
Real Photo-winter scene
Not a postcard
Officially the Bellevue Incline was the "Cincinnati & Clifton Inclined Plane Railroad" which was built at the head of Elm Street at McMicken Avenue. The 1st image below shows the original depot, it was rebuilt in 1890 (2nd image) to carry horsecars and streetcars. The Bellevue House like all the other incline resorts was famous for its fine food, fun and dancing. The gaiety ended like all the other resorts and it finally ended up being remodeled into a car house for the incline. The end came on March 22, 1901 when it burned, destroying many cars stored in it.
Original Depot Rebuilt Depot View from top
Winter Scene A View From The Top
Bellevue Park Today
The photo above shows a section of Bellevue Park as it looks today.
MT. AUBURN / MAIN STREET INCLINE
These are not postcards
The Mt. Auburn / Main Street Incline had the shortest length of operation of all the inclines, starting 1871 and shutting down in 1898, thus there are no postcards (that I know of) to be had although I am pretty sure there will be some real photo postcards somewhere. The resort on top was called the Lookout House. The Incline started at the head of Main Street and went up to the top of Mt. Auburn. This incline was different from all the others in that there were two different grades. The bottom half was much steeper than the top half. The first four images show the incline as it looked prior to 1878 which is when the permanent cabs were rebuilt with open platforms to haul horsecars. In 1889 the Cincinnati Inclined Plane Company electrified their railway system and the incline was again rebuilt for electric cars. You can see how they had to chop most of the lower station up until it looked like the building in the 5th image in order to have a straight run to the incline for the railroad tracks. The last two images show the incline during it use with electric streetcars. The Incline was involved in the most tragic wreck in which a incline was involved. in 1889 a car carrying 7 passengers climbed to the top of the hill and the machinery could not be stopped because the brakes failed to slow it down and the cable pulled right out of the car. There was no safety catch to hold the car and it hurtled to the bottom of the incline slamming into the wall. The roof shot across the street and crashed into homes on Mulberry Street. All but one passenger died. The Incline closed in 1898 because Vine Street hill became the route the electric streetcars began to use.
The drawing above shows the route the Horse Car took to get to the Incline. As the line rode on rails there had to be a turntable for the car to turn around and go back downtown. Passengers, of course, had to get off and enter the cab mounted on the Incline. Rails were eventually mounted on the incline thus allowing the horse car to pull directly onto the incline. The turntable was then removed.
The Lookout House
A Cincinnati Enquirer artist drew this sketch of the crash on the Mt. Auburn Incline.