Saturday, October 10, 2009

Riverside Rail

 Rail along Riverside Drive
(Pre-Towne Properties development).
Photo source.

It was my son's birthday recently, and a heck of a good day it was. After all of the day's expected rigmarole, we decided to cap it off with a cruise around downtown - something he enjoys immensely, even at this young age. Whether it be kid-size or adult-size, tunnels, towers and trains are his favorites, so when near the core, we always visit the Queen City Square tower construction site, and drive to or fro through the 71/3rd Street tunnels (and usually once back and forth over the Roebling Bridge, aka. the "Buzzing Bridge"). Unfortunately, seeing trains of any kind is unusual... which made this birthday trip extra special.

First, the normal routine (with an added bonus)...

The Queen City Square tower, looking NE from 2nd Street...

...and a plane with a flag attached to it!
Planes AND flags = hysteria.

After hitting the business district, we ventured down through beautiful Sawyer Point - an area that seems to be incredibly under-utilized by the population (aside from the formal, scheduled events - from what I've witnessed, anyway). It's surprising, too, considering there's so much to do and see just strolling around the area. No matter how many times I've been down there, it still hits me as a really incredible park...

Looking south from Sawyer Point's "Gateway Sculpture"
toward the "Big Mac Bridge".

Floating sticks down the miniature Ohio River - something I used to love doing
as a kid when it first opened in '88. Can't do it anymore, though,
since they don't keep the water pumping.

Waving flags against a moving sky. Pretty mesmerizing when
you're young...
and they're everywhere at Sawyer Point.

That was our final stop sans car, so after buckling in again for the ride home, I decided to take the scenic route, down Eastern Ave. Riverside Drive, and I'm glad I did because we ended up witnessing a small clip of the past future...

It was obviously a Cincinnati Dinner Train excursion, because there were only a few cars, it was moving pretty slow, there were people lounging around inside and on the rails checking out the view, and it was Saturday night. And as simple as this was, it was damn beautiful, and my son loved it.

A great end to a great day.

This might not be a big deal to some of you, but like most of the rest of the country, passenger trains are extremely scarce around these parts anymore - especially any place other than Union Terminal, so seeing any train wheeling down the east side of town takes me by surprise. Naturally, I stopped to witness the grandeur, and wheeled up onto a small side street, got out and snagged a few, quick shots. This actually was a good experience, because I had never actually noticed how close the tracks were to the backs of some of those houses perched up off of Riverside Drive, and how little noise the train actually made next to them.

While I don't drool over everything Towne does, I do appreciate their local prominence because they've rebuilt a ton of older areas into attractive hot spots. But in regards to Riverside, I really don't know what the heck Arn is complaining about. Not only did the Cincinnati Dinner Train not seem very disruptive (similar, if not heavier and louder than the modern 3-C cars that would travel here), but having passenger trains travel through the area and stop in the heart of all the city's new construction three times a day seems like a no-brainer in terms of creating prosperity and vitality for our city. Isn't that what developers ultimately want?

Arn is obviously protecting those who have already bought from him down there, but if those residents don't like it, I'm sure there'd be a ton of people itching to buy property in their place if it meant being near a rail stop. Wasn't that always the plan???

Concept drawing of the Riverfront Transit Center (1997).
This was obviously constructed some time ago, but where's the rail?
Or the bus traffic for that matter??

Update: Lunken was approved as Cincinnati's "temporary" depot. Seeing that the Union Terminal was nixed from the get-go (no room with the freight traffic there), and the huge 2nd Street structure foolishly ignored (above image), I guess I don't have a problem with this - it's a cool, old stop that already caters to the transient tourist/business passenger dynamic. But if the streetcar is ever constructed and doesn't have a line passing near there, none of it will make any sense... or cents.

• More on the Cincinnati Dinner Train and other unique rail events at
The Cincinnati Railway Company (more info at Discover Ohio, & a nice writeup at Shore Magazine).

• Read an exceptional writeup of the barren Riverfront Transit Center at the always excellent Queen City Discovery

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered why they don't run any excursion type of passenger trains to the sawyer point area. I have see a few back in the 1990's, but nothing recent. It would seem like a great way to bring people to events down there seeing how parking can be an issue at times.