Sunday, March 2, 2003

Learn how Cincinnatians got around 100 years ago



The Cincinnati Enquirer

Think you've got it tough these days, commuting on snow-covered roads during rush hour and wondering whether the road salt will outlast the winter?

Imagine yourself back in the days before Union Terminal was built in 1933, when travelers had to endure a sometimes-frantic taxi ride between the five railroad stations around the Queen City used by seven rail lines just to change trains.

IF YOU GO
What: "Hold Onto Your Hat! Transportation in Victorian Cincinnati.''
When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; registration begins at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Trinity Episcopal Church, Fourth and Madison, Covington.
Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members; includes catered lunch.
Registration: Required by Wednesday; make check payable to ORVC and mail to Anne Tabor, 345 Cedar Drive, Loveland, OH 45140.
Information: 221-4434.
Talk about hectic. In fact, "Hold Onto Your Hat!" if you want to learn more about getting around Cincinnati in 1900, because that's the title of the Victorian Society in America's Ohio River Valley Chapter spring symposium, to be held Saturday.

Island Queen memories

The symposium will peek back in time at local history, including the Coney Island steamer Island Queen and the city's forgotten canals, railroad stations, streetcars and carriages.

John White, a former senior historian at the Smithsonian Institution, a professor at Miami University and author of 12 railroad and related-subject books, will talk on "Coney Island Memories: The Steamer Island Queen."

What some Tristate residents may remember as the Island Queen was not the first to bear that name. There was an earlier version that ferried passengers to Coney Island from 1905 until it was destroyed 17 years later by fire.

Canals, carriages and iron

Nancy Gulick, a trustee of the Canal Society of Ohio, who is working to restore tunnels of the former Cincinnati and Whitewater Canal, will speak on "Lost Canals of Cincinnati." Her presentation on the canals, which reached their heyday in the 1850s, includes early photos that at one time were thought to be lost.

Find out what the well-heeled Victorians drove to the "mall" of their day in "Phaeton, Barouche or Coupe: Spotters' Guide to the Carriage Trade," discussed by Larry M. Southwick of North Avondale. Southwick has researched the local carriage industry, which once surpassed that of the Big Three automakers' home state.

"Cincinnati was the hotbed of buggy manufacture in the United States, making as many vehicles in the 1890s as the next four cities combined, more even than the whole state of Michigan," Southwick said.

The carriages were so popular that "buggy makers had more models and styles to offer than the most crazed auto salesman of the 1960s," he said.

And did you know that iron from the region, which had been mined and smelted since the French days of the mid-1700s, went to make not only door hinges and storefronts, but helped defeat the Confederacy by producing the Union's famous "ironclad" ship?

Historian Richard H. Leive will talk on the Tristate's early iron industry that led to creation of the Civil War warship Monitor.

Other speakers are John C. Niehaus, adjunct associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Cincinnati, who will offer a nostalgic trip through Cincinnati's streetcar history, which began with horse-car and steam lines in the 1850s and 1860s; and Dan Finfrock, a local railroad historian, who will discuss "Rushing to Catch the Train: Early Cincinnati Railroad Stations.''




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