Journal-News, Sunday, July 1, 1990
I-75 has been traveled for 30 years
(This is the first of three columns on state highway plans for the area in the early 1950s, including the creation of I-75.)
By Jim Blount
It was nearly 30 years ago that a transportation system that has transformed American business and leisure opened through eastern Butler County. July 31. 1960, the first cars and trucks rolled along Interstate 75 in Lemon, Liberty and Union townships
The limited-access, north-south interstate — with a minimum of four lanes and no traffic signals — soon took traffic from U. S. 25. U. S. 42, Ohio 747 and Ohio 4, narrower roads with many stop lights and scores of cross roads and driveways.
Compared to today's snail's pace for highway planning and construction, 1-75 was built in rapid time.
Federal approval of the interstate highways came in June 1956. Ground was broken for 1-75 in Butler County in June 1958, and the road was in use 25 months later.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1956 State of the Union address, recommended "a grand plan for a . . . system that solves the problems of speedy, safe transcontinental travel; inter-city communications; access to highways; farm to market movements and metropolitan area congestion."
Bipartisan support speeded congressional passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which was signed by the president June 29,1956.
It created the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, soon known as interstate highways.
I-75, which runs about 211.5 miles through western Ohio, connecting Cincinnati on the Ohio River and Toledo on Lake Erie — cost more than $403 million to build.
Plans for 1-75 through Butler County were announced in October 1957. Target date for completion was July 31, 1960.
It was known as the Cincinnati-Dayton Expressway when ground was broken Monday morning, June 9, 1958, near Maud in Union Township in southeastern Butler County.
Those ceremonies were held 10 miles east of Hamilton on Hamilton-Mason Road, just east of U. S. 25 (now Cincinnati-Dayton Road).
By the time work started in Butler County in the summer of 1958, I-75 had been completed between Vandalia and Lima, except for an 18-mile gap between Sidney and Wapakoneta.
The 34 miles between Cincinnati and Dayton — which cost $60 million — was the first part of I-75 built in Southwestern Ohio. That portion extended from Paddock Road, at the north edge of Cincinnati, to Ohio 741 at Moraine, south of Dayton.
The city of Cincinnati was expected to build the eight-mile section of 1-75 south from Paddock Road to the Ohio River.
The 11.28 miles of I-75 in Butler County were divided into three projects, each built by a different contractor.
One section, which cost $2.3 million, was four miles, north of Tylersville Road. A 3.2-mile part south of Tylersville Road cost $3.9 million and a section 4.2 miles extending south into Hamilton County cost $3.1 million
The total cost of the three projects was $9.3 million for 11 4 miles of highway and 13 underpasses or overpasses with existing roads and railroads.
There were — and still are — only two I-75 entrances and exits within Butler County, at Cincinnati-Dayton Road and at Tylersville Road, only about a mile and a half apart. The Ohio 63 interchange east of Monroe is in Warren County.
Traffic began flowing through 32 miles of the proposed 34 miles of I-75 between Cincinnati and Dayton at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 1960, the original target date for completion
The unfinished two miles were in Hamilton County between Evendale and the intersection of I-75 and I-275.
Work started Sept. 10, 1958, on the first part of 1-275, an 85-mile circle around the Cincinnati area That first section — between Ohio 4, just south of Fairfield, and U. S. 42 in Sharonville --opened in 1961.
I-75 through Cincinnati opened in November 1963, the weekend after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
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Journal-News, Sunday, July 8, 1990
Hamilton left off interstate highway system
(This is the second of three columns on state highway plans for the area in the early 1950s, including the creation of I-75.)
By Jim Blount
Friday, Nov. l, 1957, was a crucial date in Hamilton history, but not a memorable one. That evening a public hearing was held in Middletown. The meeting was called to review plans for 34 miles of I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.
Federal planners said interstate highways would link every American city of 50,000 people or more. But Hamilton — whose population would jump from 57,951 in 1950 to 72,354 in 1960 — wasn't part of the 1-75 blueprint unveiled in 1957.
Instead, the limited-access super highway was designed to run through eastern Butler County, 10 miles from Hamilton at its closest point.
Groundbreaking for 11.28 miles of I-75 through Butler County was Monday morning. June 9, 1958, near Maud. It opened for traffic Sunday, July 31, 1960, starting a dramatic economic and social transition in southeastern Butler County.
Obviously, the impact of that routing choice wasn't realized by Hamilton leaders in 1957 because among the missing at the Middletown hearing were the seven members of council, the city manager and city directors and administrators.
Council members may have excused themselves because there were only four campaigning days until the election, and 23 persons were competing for the seven council seats.
Members of council then were Edward Beckett, Arthur Wilson, Bernard Kirsch. Herbert Mick, Jack Blementhal and Robert Bartels, who had been elected from a field of 22 candidates in November 1955, and Fred Grant, who had been appointed in September to replace William Lakeman, who had resigned.
Six of the seven — Bartels, Beckett, Mick, Wilson, Kirsch and Grant — were re-elected. Blumenthal, didn't run, and W. Tyson Beazley was the only newcomer for 1958-59.
The city manager didn't attend the Nov. l, 1957, hearing because Hamilton didn't have a city manager then — a frequent void in that era.
Hamilton had six city manager changes in a little more than 11 years from August 1946 through November 1957, including several periods when acting city managers directed municipal affairs until council could agree on a new city manager.
Charles F. Schwalm left the post Oct. 22, 1956, and it took more than 13 months to name his replacement.
Twenty-five days after the 1-75 hearing, Howard F. "Hack" Wilson was appointed city manager during a special council meeting Nov. 26, 1957. Wilson, who had been a member of city council from 1942 through 1947, served from Dec. 2, 1957, until May 31. 1960.
Wilson also had been city manager from May 5, 1948, until July 31, 1948 — less than three months — before five members of council asked him to resign. He was city manager for a third time from May 11, 1970, until March 5, 1971.
Meanwhile, concern about Hamilton's poor access to the interstate system surfaced before the July 1960 completion of the Butler County portion of I-75.
In 1959, the county commissioners — Gordon Augspurger, Arthur S. Reiff and Ross H. Snyder — raised questions about Hamilton's lack of direct connection to the interstate.
Augspurger was president of a Butler and Warren counties interstate committee that suggested changes.
It asked for an interchange at Ohio 129 (Princeton Road, an extension of High Street) in addition to or instead of either the Ohio 63 connection east of Monroe or the Tylersville Road link between Maud, West Chester and Mason.
A southeastern extension of Princeton Road to the Tylersville Road interchange also was considered.
But the appeals were fruitless. E. S. Preston, Ohio highway director, rejected all the proposed changes, sealing Hamilton's 30-year isolation from the interstate system.
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Journal-News, Sunday, July 15, 1990
Ohio turnpike plans also bypassed Hamilton
(This is the last of three columns on state highway plans for the area in the early 1950s, including the creation of I-75.)
By Jim Blount
Hamilton officials should not have been surprised in 1957 when the city was omitted from interstate highway plans. Three years earlier -- and two years before announcement of the federal road program — Hamilton had been left out when Ohio proposed a north-south turnpike.
Aug. 9, 1954, Ohio highway officials unveiled the recommended routes for a north-south toll road. At that time, the east-west Ohio turnpike was under construction
In 1949 the Ohio General Assembly had created the Ohio Turnpike Commission, which projected five tollways in the state — two east-west and three north-south.
The first and only toll road — which survived a series of objections and legal hurdles -- follows an east-west route across Ohio near Youngstown, Akron, Cleveland, Lorain, Elyria, Fremont and Toledo.
Ground was broken in October 1952 and a 22-mile portion was opened in Mahoning County in December 1954. The full length of the 241-mile, $326 million east-west turnpike was officially opened by Gov. Frank J. Lausche Oct. 1, 1955.
The Y-shaped north-south tollway announced in 1954 was to link Cincinnati with Columbus. There, one leg would extend northeast to Conneaut on Lake Erie near the Pennsylvania border. Another section would go northwest from Columbus to Toledo on Lake Erie near the Michigan border.
The plan -- developed by the J. E. Greiner Co., Baltimore, Md. -- totaled 410 miles with 25 interchanges, including 295 miles from Cincinnati to Conneaut and 115 miles between Columbus and Toledo.
From Cincinnati, the turnpike was to run northeast across the southeast corner of Butler County to the eastern side of Dayton, then on a line south of Springfield to Columbus.
Continuing northeast, the road was to be built through or near Delaware, Mansfield, Ashland. Cleveland. Ashtabula and Conneaut. The northwest extension was to go from Columbus to Marysville, Kenton and Findlay to Toledo.
The proposal included an interchange about four miles east of Middletown but none close to Hamilton. The nearest interchange would be about 15 miles from Hamilton.
"We're interested in having an access road to the turnpike closer to Hamilton," said Jesse Pochard, county engineer.
A Journal-News editorial emphasized that "Hamilton has much at stake in considerations now being given to plans for a roadway that will connect this city with the proposed . . . turnpike."
"It is evident . . that a turnpike can do little good for the state and nearby communities unless there are adequate access roads connecting the turnpike with those communities. There's no reason in the world to build such a turnpike for the primary benefit of out-of-state traffic," observed the editorial writer, who urged local officials to press for "the shortest possible route . . . to connect this community with the turnpike."
"There is general agreement, among engineers and all others, that a turnpike cannot be of great service unless it is joined logically with nearby communities. Without such facilities, the purpose of the new roadway is lost before the first shovel of dirt is turned," the editorial said.
But the state refused to yield on a Hamilton interchange.
Instead, the state highway department also announced in 1954 that it would start acquiring land in 1955 for the widening of Ohio 4 between Hamilton and Middletown from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway, a project estimated at $4.5 million.
The widened Ohio 4 was to be part of Hamilton's connection to the north-south turnpike, connecting at LeSourdsville with Ohio 63, also then a two-lane road.
In 1954 advisers to President Dwight D. Eisenhower were forming a national highway program. Their efforts led to presidential approval of the interstate program June 29, 1956, an action that ended Ohio plans for additional toll roads.
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Journal-News, Sunday, July 22, 1990
Professional baseball came back to city in 1911
By Jim Blount
Hamilton's 1911 minor league baseball team had three names, three managers, at least 50 players and few victories,
Professional baseball returned here after a 21-year absence with Hamilton competing in the Ohio State League with Lancaster, Marion, Springfield, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, Lima and Newark, a franchise that moved to Piqua in June.
Local leaders backing the team included Chris Reutti, Homer Gard, John H. DeArmond, Frank Clements, J. B. Connaughton, Tom Bateman, George Selzer and H. V. Chase. Stock was $50 a share.
The home field, renamed League Park that season, was at High Street and Lockwood Avenue and had formerly been known as Krebs Park.
As in 1884 and 1889, problems plagued the Hamilton franchise before the 1991 season began.
For example, the first home exhibition game -- April 2 against the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association -- was halted by a snowstorm.
Another dilemma was a name. Rival newspapers conducted separate contests to select a Hamilton nickname. One labeled the team the Mechanics; the other called the local entry the Toolmakers.
The name conflict was never resolved and the blue-and-white clad team usually was known as the Hams.
League rules limited the total of player salaries to $1,400 a month; set admission prices at 50 cents for reserved grandstand, 40 cents for unreserved grandstand and 25 cents for general admission; and guaranteed visiting teams $50 for weekday games, $75 for Saturday games and $100 for Sunday games.
An Ohio law banning Sunday professional games contributed to Hamilton financial failures in 1884 and 1889, but as the 1911 started the Ohio General Assembly legalized it.
The regular season began here Thursday, April 20, 1911, in dramatic fashion as Hamilton beat the Lima Beans. 6-5. More than 2,500 people watched as Frank Locke hit a bases-loaded, game-winning double in the bottom of the ninth inning.
But the Hams soon fell into a pattern of losing — and attracting few fans. In a money-saving move in May, the roster was cut from 15 to 13 players, with average monthly salaries between $100 and $110.
June 30 there was only 11 cents in the Hamilton treasury, but collapse was avoided when local businessmen donated $700. It wasn't until July 20 that a weekday game income was enough to cover the $50 visitor guarantee.
The season started with Jimmie Barton of Newport, Ky., managing the team. He was replaced July 17 by Frank Locke. a catcher and first baseman. A week later, Van Patterson, a player acquired from Lima two days earlier, took over the reins.
Only two of the 50 players who appeared in the Hamilton lineup ever saw major league action.
Pitcher Abe Kruger had lost the only game in which he pitched for the 1908 Brooklyn Dodgers.
The other, the most popular member of the team, was 17-year-old William Lee "Smokey" Hobbs, who had been horn in Kentucky, but had resided in Hamilton since childhood.
Hobbs played several infield positions and sometimes pitched for the 1911 team. He would play shortstop and second base for the Cincinnati Reds in eight games m 1913 and 1916 during a brief major league career. He still resided here in 1945 when he was killed in a hunting accident.
Also a fan favorite was Horace Brown, a Hamilton youth who became a reliable pitcher after joining the team at the end of May.
In a September exhibition game in Hamilton, Brown allowed the Reds only seven hits as Cincinnati, managed by Clark Griffith, beat the Hams 7-5.
When the 1911 OSL season ended, Hamilton was in last place with 47 wins and 91 losses.
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Journal-News, Sunday, July 29, 1990
Interurban trolley service popular, inexpensive
By Jim Blount
Interurban service began here in the summer of 1897 when the electric-powered cars of the Cincinnati & Miami Valley Traction Co. started operating over a 37-mile line between Dayton and Hamilton.
The traction, as it usually was called, offered competition for passenger and freight service to steam-powered railroads that had operated here since 1851.
The Cincinnati & Miami Valley was an outgrowth of the Dayton Traction Co., which had been formed in 1894. Major investors included Peter Schwab, a Hamilton brewer, businessman and school board member.
A 10-mile line from Dayton to Mlamisburg opened in 1896. The same year, Butler County commissioners granted permission to extend the line through Middletown to Hamilton at a speed "not to exceed 25 miles an hour."
In return, the company agreed to pay the county bridge fund $25 a mile for the first five years and $50 a mile after five years. The traction line also contracted to pay 25 percent of repairs to county bridges that it used.
The interurban line crossed the Great Miami River between Middletown and Trenton and ran southwest through Trenton, Busenbark and Overpeck and entered Hamilton via Seven Mile Pike and North B Street. Its original Hamilton terminal was at the corner of Main and North B streets.
A lawsuit filed by a local streetcar company delayed the C&MV access to the High-Main Street Bridge.
Another suit by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad contested the C&MV's right to cross the railroad in Trenton. A state railway commission's ruling gave the railroad priority and required interurban cars to stop before crossing the CH&D mainline at Trenton.
As construction began in May 1897, the traction company said fares would probably be 85 cents for a round trip between Hamilton and Dayton and 40 cents for a Cincinnati-Hamilton round trip. Both were about half the rates charged by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad.
The traction company claimed it would offer farmers and rural residents "advantages that are beyond a steam railroad."
"We can let a farmer off at his door," boasted a C&MV promoter. "We can give him an opportunity of going to and coming from town every half hour."
In the spring and summer of 1897, about 500 men were grading right-of-way, laying track, erecting power poles and stringing wiring in Butler County. A car barn was built in Trenton, and a power station was erected at Busenbark, south of Trenton.
Finally, the interurban age began here at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 25, 1897, when the first car arrived from Dayton. However, it was just a ceremonial start because some work remained on the route through Butler County.
Regular service began a week later, Sunday, Aug. 1, with cars arriving and leaving about every half hour.
The first timetable included 21 northbound departures from Hamilton each day.
Less than two weeks later, the C&MV announced the dismissal of eight motormen and conductors because they "had been guilty of flirting while on duty, and this act the company forbids."
The traction soon became a popular means of transportation for both work and pleasure.
A popular activity was the "trolley party" or "traction party" which involved church and social groups traveling to a city on the line. After sightseeing and possibly a meal, the group would return to Hamilton the same day.
As the interurban system expanded, Hamilton would also be served by two lines to Cincinnati. Via the Dayton line, it had connections to many cities in the Midwest.
The traction era continued in Hamilton until Saturday, May 13, 1939, when the last passenger car left for Dayton.
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