UPDATED: Throwback to the ’50s train

News Journal

We received quite a few responses at info@wnewsj.com to the “All Aboard!” Throwback Thursday photo which the News Journal ran Oct. 25.

“The picture is of the last passenger train through Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio,” said Mel Danenbergs. “Champion Bridge is just showing in the background behind the depot. This train left at 2:41 p.m. on July 21, 1956. Passengers returned back from Washington C.H. at 4:28 p.m. Lots of school kids took that train ride.” He said that information is “via OPSO Wyatt Buchanan’s Post.”

He added that, according to the Clinton County Historical Society’s “Bits of Clinton County History” that the first train arrived (from Cincinnati) on August 11, 1853, to a great local celebration by the crowd enjoying a barbecue dinner of roasted oxen and sheep. People ate to the music of a brass band from Cincinnati and speeches by local prominent people. The railroad was the Cincinnati,Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad and it came through Morrow, Clarksville and Sligo besides Wilmington. Trains began running regularly and reportedly the fare was $1.60 once per day.”

He added, “This is a very interesting and fun idea for the newspaper to print. Creates interest.”

Nial Henry said, “This is a picture of the very last passenger train going through Wilmington. The depot was across the street from the Champion Bridge Company. Local citizens got to ride this train from Wilmington to Washington Court House and back. I was in this crowd.”

Dan Nixon told us that information on the last passenger train to travel from Wilmington may be found on page 45 in the Brown Publishing book “1920-1995 Commitment to Community Clinton County.”

Joyce Hater Wells recalled that “in the early 1950s at what was then a train depot near the corner of Sugartree and Grant Streets, Cincinnati Milling Machine Company (now Milacron) had recently opened a plant in Wilmington and had a train take the Wilmington employees and their families directly to the Cincinnati plant for an all-day picnic, returning the group to Wilmington on the train later in the day. I was on one of those trips and everyone enjoyed the day.”

She added, “Thanks for all the Throwback Thursday” photos. Hope you will continue to print more in the future.”

Sam Lewis of Naples, Florida said, “Cincinnati Milling Machine Company on Prairie Road used to host a ‘family day’ at Coney Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati. They would take all employees and their entire families, by train, down by the Ohio River for a free day of fun and picnics. The train would leave from the old depot on Sugartree Street … My grandfather, Oral Downing, worked for many years at the Cincinnati Mill. As a child I took many of these train rides. I suspect I am somewhere in this photo. Thanks for sharing it.”

Charles Jackson was having computer problems Thursday so he called the News Journal to say he used to live about half a block away from the scene in the photograph.

He recalled when passenger trains used to come to Wilmington.

“Then suddenly there were no passenger trains, just freight trains after that,” Jackson reminisced.

There were trains that pulled cattle cars that also used to come through town, he said. In fact, off Langdon Avenue, there was like a corral where you could ship and receive cattle, he added.

In addition, there was a casting foundry off Langdon Avenue (the Wilmington Casting Company) where a train sometimes would stop to off-load material.

Jackson remarked, “I used to play in front of the train station and on the tracks.”

Not visible in the photograph, but very close to the site pictured was Midland School, which had an all-black student enrollment until Wilmington schools became totally integrated.

“I went there for four years,” said Jackson, reciting the names of two black teachers and the janitor.

The school building — now demolished — later became an integrated kindergarten.

News Journal