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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CL&N Railroad Tunnel

The Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern Railroad tunnel (sometimes referred to as the Oak Street Tunnel) is a portion of a defunct rail line that once connected Cincinnati to Lebanon, and further on to Dayton, Ohio. At nearly 1/2 mile long, the tunnel is at a steep grade, and curves to the east at the southern end. The tunnel was constructed around 1881 with the rest of the CL&N line, and originally carried two narrow-gauge rail lines. The tunnel was later converted to carry two standard gauge lines, despite not being wide enough for two trains to pass simultaneously. An accident in 1916 led to the reconfiguration of the rail line to one standard rail, forcing trains to stop at either end and wait for a clear signal to pass.

The rail ties from the single line still remain in the tunnel, and the tunnel is in a fair condition overall. The arch brickwork sits atop a solid concrete foundation, and the few cracks that have appeared over time have been repaired. The tunnel functioned through the 1980's, and other remnants of the rail line are still viewable up and along the I-71 corridor: including two overpasses over the highway. The tunnel is currently owned by SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority) and will be maintained in hope of being utilized for future passenger rail service. The width of the tunnel would pose a problem for any future usage, however.

The following links contain photographs as well as detailed information on the CL&N Railroad and Tunnel:


Ronny Salerno said...

Great write up Zach. What kinds of problems would passenger rail face? If it were heavy rail I assume only on train could pass through in one direction at a time, but if light rail were utilized could two tracks run parallel?

Venkman said...

Light rail is almost always run on standard gauge lines, so it would run into the same problem as heavy-rail. Two tracks could fit in the tunnel, but there wouldn't be enough clearance for two trains to pass. Custom cars might make it possible, though.


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