Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
|This article does not cite any sources. (September 2011)|
|Locale||Warren County, Ohio, USA|
|Dates of operation||1985–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad is located in historic downtown Lebanon, Ohio, between Dayton and Cincinnati. The attraction features nostalgic train rides that are usually themed, such as the Easter Bunny Express, North Pole Express, and rides with favorite children's characters including Thomas the Tank Engine and Clifford the Big Red Dog.
The train operates on approximately 25 miles (40 km) of track between Lebanon, Mason and Monroe – all cities in southwestern Ohio. For most trips the LM&M runs 4.4 miles (7.1 km) south from Lebanon Station in downtown historic Lebanon to a picnic grove along the track at the back property of the Southwest Golf Ranch. The train runs along the right-of-way of the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railway (CL&N), a historic passenger and freight line that began operation in 1881 with narrow gauge track (3 ft (914 mm) between the rails). Three years later it was rebuilt to standard gauge. The CL&N was later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) that operated both freight and passenger trains over the line between Dayton and Cincinnati. The passenger service over this line was primarily commuter trains that took people who lived in Warren County to jobs in Blue Ash, Norwood, Cincinnati and Dayton. The PRR discontinued Cincinnati passenger service over this line in 1931 after the opening of Cincinnati Union Terminal. Continuity of the original right-of-way between Lebanon and Cincinnati was broken when interstate highway I-71 was constructed during the 1960s. Segments of the original CL&N/PRR trackage are still in operation as of 2008. The LM&M’s track from Lebanon to Hageman Junction is currently owned by the city of Lebanon and Genesee & Wyoming (current owner of the Indiana and Ohio Railway) owns the remaining track. While the I&O continues to operate freight over the entire line, the LM&M has trackage rights to operate passenger trains.
Locomotive CNRY 55 is one of the oldest GP7 locomotives still operating. The locomotive was ordered by the Pere Marquette Railway (PM) from General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) in 1947, but was delivered to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) as a result of the takeover of the PM via a merger. The locomotive’s original number was 5704, and it ran in general freight service all over the C&O, and subsequently the Chessie System, until it was retired, then purchased by the Indiana and Ohio Railway (I&O) around 1987. Ownership of 55 was transferred to what is now the LM&M when the I&O was purchased by RailTex in 1996. The 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) locomotive was built in May 1950 and was ballasted to 248,000 lb (112,000 kg)., making it and its sisters the heaviest GP7s on the C&O. A conservative estimate is that the 55 has traveled well over 3 million miles to date.
CNRY 101 - 104
The four open-window commuter coaches built in 1930 by the Pullman Company in Chicago, and by the Harlan and Hollingsworth division of Bethlehem Shipbuilding for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). These coaches did not require a locomotive because each car was self-propelled by four 3000 Volt DC, 230 horsepower (170 kW) electric motors receiving electricity from overhead catenary wires. Though each car was equipped with individual engineer’s controls, two or more cars could be coupled together as a train and operated by a single engineer in the lead car. The coaches operated in commuter service in the eastern New Jersey suburbs of New York City. for the (DL&W) Railroad until 1960, when the Lackawanna Railroad was merged with the Erie Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna (EL) and continued to serve until 1976, and finally New Jersey Transit (NJT) until 1984, when they were purchased for use in Lebanon. At that time the cars were named after historic and significant places along the current LM&M line: Car 101, "Mason"; 102 "Hageman"; and 103 "Turtle Creek" each hold 72 passengers, and Car 104 "Lebanon" holds 54 passengers and features a snack bar.
Open–Air Car CNRY 100
Built by the Lehigh and New England Railroad (L&NE) in 1934 as a 40-ton capacity freight gondola, the LM&M purchased it from the Maryland Midland Railroad (M&M) in 1986. This car has been extensively modified for excursion service, with new floor, elevated side rails and center rail, bench seating for 20 as well as pass-through doorways at each end. The car sports a headlight, bell, horn and control compartment and can be used in any order on the train consist because it provides “lead car and trail car” service.
Lebanon railroad station
Built in 1972 as a replica of the original Lebanon Victorian-style passenger station and owned and maintained by the Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs. The land was purchased from the Penn Central Railroad and the Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs raised funds to build a membership facility on the property. The garden club members use the station as a library, meeting rooms, workshop space and memorabilia displays. The LM&M ticket office and gift shop is located across the street at the corner of South and Mechanic.
Crossing watchman’s tower
The Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs secured a tower originally in service at the corner of Reading and Columbia Roads in Reading, Ohio. Before the introduction of automatic crossing gates, the gates were often operated manually by a crossing guard located in a tower that provided him a better view of oncoming trains and vehicular traffic.. The tower was equipped with a coal stove, chair, and crossing gate controls.
The antique ice house across the south side of the track is a donation to the Lebanon Council of Garden Clubs from the Middletown Ice and Coal Company.
The origin of the semaphore at Lebanon Station parking lot is unknown; however it is representative of a typical train order semaphore, which was used to convey different messages to an approaching train by changing the positioning of the arm. The train order signal had three color and blade positions, Green (vertical) indicating no orders, Yellow (diagonal 45 degrees) indicating pick up orders while moving, and Red (horizontal) indicating stop and sign for orders after reading them as verification with the block operator, who controlled the signal. The signal was built by the Union Switch and Signal of Swissvale Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. It is a donation from the Lebanon Kiwanis Club.