Railfan Guide

Railfanning Cincinnati, Ohio

Revised August 11, 2011

Below is a list of trainwatching spots in the Cincinnati area. No places on the list below involve trespassing on railroad or private property. You should have no trouble at any of these locations, except where noted. In the event that anyone has trouble, please let me know ASAP and I will investigate. Thanks & good train watching!

Winton Place - Unquestionably the busiest location in Cincinnati, Winton Place is located just north of downtown off Interstate 75. There are a few vantage points from which to view the action, which regularly exceeds 80 movements every 24 hours.

A.) The Clifton Avenue bridges are best in morning sunlight. To reach them take I-75 to Mitchell Avenue (I-75 mile 6.5), go west on Mitchell to Kenard Avenue at the McDonalds and BP Station BEFORE you go under the tracks. Turn left and go to the next light. You will see the concrete railroad bridge over the Mill Creek. Park at Blockbuster Video or the lot to your right. DO NOT PARK ON THE RAILROAD SERVICE ROAD NOR DRIVE UP THERE. No trespassing!

Northbound NS train as seen from Clifton Avenue

B.) Salway Park is best in the afternoon. While not a great photo location, it is an excellent place to simply relax under a shady tree and watch the action. If you are in a group, bring a baseball & glove as the athletic fields are very nice. Follow the same direction as above, but turn right off Kenard Avenue onto Clifton Avenue. Go under the tracks and make an immediate left turn onto Spring Grove Avenue. Go south on Spring Grove Avenue past Winton Road and you will see the park on your left. If the action is slow, be sure to take a few minutes to drive through the beautiful Spring Grove Cemetery, which is across the street from Salway Park.

You will see several other places to view the Winton Place area. As long as you do not go up to track level, you will be fine. Cincinnati, CSX, and NS police all regularly patrol there area, so please do not go up to the tracks. Winton Place is not the best neighborhood, particularly on the west side of the tracks at Mitchell and Spring Grove Avenue, so please keep an eye on your car and valuables.

Glendale - The charming village of Glendale has much to offer for the railfan. Directional running in Cincinnati make this line through Glendale a predominantly northbound operation, but traffic can be quite heavy at times. Be sure to visit the Cock & Bull English Pub, located across the tracks from the police station off Sharon Road. Good food, a view of the B&O signals, and a fun place to hang out. The restored CH&D station is worth a visit too. To get to Glendale, take I-75 to Sharon Road (Exit 15). Go west on Sharon Road. Turn left immediately before crossing the B&O tracks and park in the municipal parking lot next to the police station.

B&O Warehouse - This is a nice place to photograph not only a classic B&O structure, but also photograph the busy CSX Ohio River Bridge, formerly belonging to the C&O. From Union Terminal, go straight out of the parking lot on Ezzard Charles Drive across I-75 to Linn Street. Turn right on Linn Street and follow it until it ends at Mehring Way (at the large railroad bridge). Turn left on Mehring Way and go east to the B&O Warehouse, which will be on your left. Park on the north side of the building to see the action. Another good photo location is on Mehring Way in the afternoon of the C&O Bridge. You can get the new Paul Brown football stadium in the photo as well as the truss work of the C&O Bridge.

CT Junction - This is a new entry.  In 2007 the old warehouse district around CT Junction located next to the B&O Warehouse was demolished.  This important CSX junction is located on the C&O Bridge at 5th & Baymiller St.  The line to Cincinnati Union Terminal parts with the CSX main into Queensgate Yard at this location.  Trains bypassing the yard, including Amtrak, just the line into CUT, which runs southwest from CT then passes the main into Queensgate overhead a short distance later.  As of August, 2011, there are a few large sand piles located at CT that are tempting to climb upon, but I strongly discourage it as rain erosion has seriously undermined the stability of the piles.  There are lots of excellent photos locations of CT Junction that may be used both in the morning and afternoon sunlight hours.  Train count is quite high with about 40 movements per 24 hours here.  While this is a former C&O bridge, in 1991 CSX replaced the C&O signals with B&O signals.

The Queensgate Area Viaducts - There are three viaducts that span the rail yards in the Mill Creek Valley. From north to south:

A.) Hopple Street - This modern viaduct gives you a view of CSX's Queensgate Yard at the north end. It spans the Trim Yard and all main tracks. The sidewalk is on the north side of the bridge, making it the easiest to photograph from. Parking is ample and this location is right next to Cincinnati's legendary Camp Washington Chili Parlor, where Cincinnati Chili began. They are now in their new home, so be sure to check it out. Closed Sunday's.

The SBD painted SD40 is regrettably long gone.

B.) Harrison Avenue / Western Hills Viaduct - The most frustrating viaduct to photograph from, because it is the busiest, least accessible, and offers the most interesting things to photograph. The Queensgate Locomotive Shop, pit, and Hump Tower are all in plain sight from the north side of the viaduct. Unfortunately, the sidewalk is on the top deck, south side. Do not attempt to walk on the north side on either deck of the bridge, as it is EXTREMELY dangerous and Cincinnati Police may be nice enough to only give you a ticket and not take you into custody. The best way to photograph the bridge is to go with a friend who drives a tall vehicle, such as a SUV or truck. From the top deck, a slow drive across the viaduct with the window down can afford some fine photographs.

C.) Eighth Street Viaduct - Not quite as busy in one spot as the other two since the railroads begin to spread out at this point. 8th Street is a good place to photograph the south end of Queensgate Yard. However, it is recommended that you travel in groups when going out on this bridge due to it being in a high crime area. Parking may be found at either end, but lock up and leave no valuables inside.

Hamilton - Located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati, Hamilton provides NS and CSX traffic, with Great Miami thrown in for a little color. CSX's former B&O line to Indianapolis departs the Toledo mainline at Hamilton Depot (CH&D). A little further north, the former PRR, now NS New Castle District, junctions with CSX for a 2 mile jaunt over CSX until it gets back on its own rails at New River Junction in New Miami. Most of the action (except Indy) may be viewed at Butler Street interlocking, where NS and CSX come together in downtown Hamilton. Not the most photogenic spot, it is acceptable for photography and reasonably in daylight hours. A word of warning, trespassing is a very serious problem in Hamilton. CSX and NS police are patrolling there daily to cut down on the number of trespassing incidents (multiple fatalities in the past few years). Do not become part of the problem! If a train is coming and you want to be on the other side of the tracks: CROSS ONLY AT MARKED GRADE CROSSINGS! You will be cited otherwise! There is a McDonalds very conveniently located right next to the tracks to provide food. Also, several other food establishments are located on US 127 near the junction of Route 4. Take I-75 to the Butler County Regional Highway (located north of Tylersville Rd.) west to Route 4 in Hamilton. Go straight through the light and west about 1/2 mile under the tracks, and then turn right. Pick a place to park. Please avoid parking in Ohio Casualties lot during business hours. McDonalds is quite friendly, particularly if you are a patron at some point during the day (in other words, keep a McDonalds cup on the dash or something to justify your presence in the lot). Alternate route: From I-275 to Route 4 in Springdale. Take Route 4 north about 10 miles. You will go under both the B&O and PRR/NS after you enter Hamilton. Turn left on US 127 and follow the directions above. US 127 joins Rt. 4 just north of Maple Ave., identifiable by a grave stone sales business on your left. The next light is where you want to turn left.

KC Junction & Robbins Street in Covington, KY. - Another busy location for CSX traffic, KC Junction is where the former L&N from Louisville and Corbin join the former C&O to Russell. Afternoon sunlight is excellent here. Take I-75 to the Pike Street / 12th Street Exit in Covington. Take 12th Street east to Russell Street. Turn right on Russell Street and go south to the stop sign at 17th Street. After going through the intersection, turn left into one of the business parking lots on your left. Drive back behind the buildings, but stay well away from the tracks and please stay out of the businesses way. They are quite friendly, so please be courteous to them. Be sure to check out the photo off the 19th Street overpass just south of the tower. You will be able to get the city skyline in your photo of the train! If you have visited the area before, you may recall the famous Robbins Street overpass. Unfortunately, the bridge has been dismantled and there are no plans to replace it. However, it is still a good morning shot from the east side of Robbins Street.  KC Junction cabin was demolished in February, 2002.

Latonia, Kentucky Latonia is the junction of the former L&N mainline between Cincinnati and Corbin, Ky., the LCL Subdivision to Louisville, and the Wilder Branch to NX Cabin. Latonia may be photographed from several spots and it is best to explore to find a location you like. To reach Latonia, take I-275 to SR 16. Go north on 16 about 2 miles into Latonia. Prior to crossing the tracks, turn right on 36th Street. Take 36th Street east to Park Avenue. Here, either turn left to the dead end at the tracks or turn right. If you turn right, go one block and turn left across the tracks to Glenn Avenue. There is a whistle ordinance in effect here, so you will not get much warning on approaching trains. There are two defect detectors nearby. One is south of Latonia at MP 4.3 just north of Decoursey Yard. The other is on the LCL Sub at MP 104.2, also just south of Latonia.  Tim's Trains hobby shop is located at the north end of Latonia siding on the LCL Subdivision.

NX Cabin in Newport, Kentucky NX, the call letters for Newport Crossing, is the junction of the former C&O mainline to Russell, Kentucky and the former L&N mainline from Louisville to Cincinnati. Today, the former L&N is known as the Wilder Branch and no longer crosses the C&O, just simply has an eastward switch. This facilitates movements from Decoursey Yard, usually coal trains and a local, to run north out of Decoursey, turn onto the Wilder Branch at Latonia, and go east on the former C&O at NX. Traffic is not as heavy here as other Cincinnati spots and by no means photogenic. However, you can get a nice view of the Cincinnati skyline from the spot. To reach it, take I-471 to Grande Avenue in Newport. Go west on Grande Avenue to Monmouth Street. Go north on Monmouth about a 1/3 of a mile. Prior to going under the tracks, turn left on 14th Street. Hang an immediate right to the tracks. There are no crossings located nearby, so you have to keep a close ear on the scanner. There is a pedestrian overpass at the junction that provides a fine view of NX.

Erlanger, Kentucky - Located at the crest of the famous Erlanger Hill on the former Southern Railway mainline to Chattanooga, Erlanger provides a good vantage point to see the heavy traffic NS sends over this line every day. The best place to view the action is at the old Erlanger Depot. Take I-75 to SR 236 which is the first exit south of I-275. Go east on 236 (Commonwealth Avenue) into Erlanger. Turn left on Court Street, just before the big intersection with Dixie Highway. Go one block north on Court Street, turn right on Erlanger Road, go east one more block, then left onto Crescent Avenue. You will see the tracks and depot at this point. Park in the restored depot parking lot.

Crescent Springs, Kentucky This community is located mid-grade on NS Erlanger Hill, so it is a great place to watch trains grind up the steep grade, often with pushers on the rear. There are two good spots to watch the action from. In the morning, the light is best for Highland Crossing. Take I-75 to the Buttermilk Pike exit (Exit 186). Go west on Buttermilk to the first traffic light (at the Shell Station) and turn right on Grandview Drive. Take Grandview to the stop sign and turn left to the tracks. You can park in the strip mall lot and watch the action. In the afternoon, the light is best at the Kenton County Veterans Memorial Park. Same directions as above, but do not turn right at Grandview. Go straight, cross the bridge over the tracks, and turn left on Anderson Road (BP Station on left). Take Anderson one block and turn left again on Park Street. You cant miss the spot. This is another location where trains, particularly downgrade northbounds, can sneak up on you, so keep that scanner on 160.950 and listen for the blocks at Corby (MP 8) and MP 5.5/5.4. You are at MP 7.

Enjoy your visit to Cincinnati. If you have any questions, ask any of the local fans. Just about everyone here is friendly and will be happy to help you out. Have fun and BE SAFE! J. E. Landrum, webmaster RRs of Cincinnati -  webmaster_at_cincyrails_dot_com

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