Cincinnati’s Hidden Railroad Station, Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati’s Hidden Railroad Station, Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati's Hidden Railroad Station

The Torrence Road Railroad Station Depot was built in 1907. The depot was built for the wealthy people who lived on top of the hill in Walnut Hills as the rich didn’t want to go into the “then” filthy downtown Cincinnati to catch long-distance trains out of the city. The passenger station was on the Little Miami Railroad, operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. In 1909, First Lady Helen Taft suffered a stroke two months after her husband became President. It affected her speech, right arm and leg. The Pennsylvania railroad, knowing the Taft’s preferred using the Torrence Road station when visiting Cincinnati, built an elevator and pedestrian walkway specifically for her in 1909.

At its peak, two dozen passenger trains a day would stop at the station. Passenger service ended here and at Pennsylvania’s main station at Pearl & Butler Streets in downtown Cincinnati when Union Terminal was completed in 1933 and all passenger trains were rerouted through Norwood to the new terminal.

The Torrence station was then abandoned and demolished in 1933. However, several relics from that era still exist if you know where to look.

The most obvious structure still standing is the lower level of the ticket office and entrance located across the street from St. Rose Church. The building is still intact but bricked up and filled with dirt. An emblem from the construction company that built the retaining wall by the main office is still embedded in the concrete. You can also find the old portion of Torrence Road where it goes up to the tracks, crosses and then curves back to meet up with Columbia Parkway. This portion of the road was still open to traffic in the 1970s and possibly later.

However the coolest part of this abandoned railway station is the giant red colored terra cotta on the far side of the tracks and embedded into the retaining wall.

This terra cotta was created in 1890 by the famous sculpture Karl Bitter for the Pennsylvania Railroad for their Broad Street Railroad Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It portrays two early settlers to the region and was one of eight and possibly 10 such terra cotta sculptures created by Karl Bitter that were featured on the outside of the Broad Street Train Shed. Each Terra Cotta represented a city that the Pennsylvania Railroad serviced including Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston & Washington. The train shed, designed by the Wilson Brothers and Company, was at that time the world’s largest single-span structure, a little over 300 feet wide, 589-feet long, 108-foot-tall, and tipping the scales at 7 million pounds!

Unfortunately in the early morning hours of Monday, June 11, 1923, a fire broke out in the Philadelphia Train Shed and burned for almost 3 days basically destroying the complex.

After the fire, Pennsylvania’s President Samuel Rea offered the sculptures to the cities they represented. Cincinnati accepted the offer, and it was placed in the wall underneath the walkway overpass at Torrence Road in 1924.

The historic piece has been embedded in this retaining wall for almost 100 years now and is thought to be the only one of the Philadelphia train shed terra cottas still in existence.

GPS Location: 39°07’28.3″N 84°27’42.8″W