In the early days of the railroad service, years before the Transcontinental Railroad would be established, there were many smaller railroads that covered various parts of the United States. Two of these railroads, Hillsboro and Cincinnati, were railroads that ran through the city of Loveland, Ohio at that time. These railroads were first chartered way back in 1846. The idea was to run a railroad line that stretched from Hillsboro and O’Bannon Creek, which took up part of Loveland, and run along the Little Miami route. Four years later, Hillsboro and Cincinnati finished construction of the 37 mile railroad. The railroad line would be leased off to the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad and become part of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s mainline. There was a lot of sharing with this railroad service. This helped Loveland gain a lot of growth in its city. Well over 40 passenger trains and 12 freight trains would pass by between Loveland and Cincinnati.
There was another type of railroad that also ran through Loveland, but it wasn’t for trains. Loveland had the honor of being part of the famous Underground Railroad system used during the Civil War. The Underground Railroad was a passage of safe houses that black slaves would take in order to escape to the free states as well as Canada. It had four different routes:
Its Eastern Route went through Cincinnati and included stops at Waynesville and Lebanon. There are even official records which report that Civil War Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan brought his troops through Loveland and took possession of many northern and southern sympathizers at the time. This would go on to be called “Morgan’s Raid.”
As the railroad got more and more popular, and more people sought travel to various cities and states across the United States, safety measures had to be made. It wasn’t until 1867 that the first official U.S. patent for a railroad crossing gate would be invented. These crossing barriers helped vehicles know when to stop before a train came by on the tracks. It prevented a number of train related accidents that could injure or kill a number of people. Over the years these barriers have since been upgraded and given new additions. A railroad crossing sign was established to help drivers spot the upcoming track from a distance. Then a round yellow RR crossing sign was later added so that the sign could be visible at night and allow for drivers to avoid the late night trains that could come unexpectedly.
Eventually the old Loveland railroads were updated and moved accordingly based on better routes established that would get people to their destinations on time. The old rail tracks are now mostly bike tracks, but they still remain as a reminder of the simpler times back when a train that crossed multiple cities was a fascinating, and highly praised, mode of transportation.