The Decline of the Incline

The Decline of the Incline: An Elegy for Cincinnati’s Inclined Plane Railways, 1872 – 1948

PDF version

The “Age of Inclines” in the “City of Seven Hills”
Was filled with laughter, vistas and thrills
Seventy-six years of (mostly) smooth ascents and good cheer
Fueled by pulleys, cables, wedges and beer

Atop Mount Auburn, the view was simply divine
They came for fireworks and hot air balloons
Now you are three-hundred and fifty-four steps
Mount Auburn, Mount Auburn, you left us too soon!

Price Hill was steepest, but also bone dry
Five minutes up for milk or lemonade, but no rye
Bears, panthers, wolves roamed the hill at this time
Up people came to escape damp, smoggy climes

Bellevue was the longest, highest rail of the five
In 1901, its resort burned to the ground
No more singing, no dancing and no sauerkraut
But for twenty-five more years it went up and down

Mount Adams lived to the age of seventy-two
A different way up than the worshipful route
It fell out of fashion by the end of its days
From Oregon Street upon its ruins we gaze

Last on the scene, first publicly built
Fairview, or the “Crosstown” was no frills transport
The steps that traced this path have been torn out
And we’re left with nothing, not even a resort!

The inclines are gone, but many steps remain
(Be glad you’re not climbing these stairs of Main)
Always worth walking, though sometimes hard to find
This route leads to the bar, let’s go have some pints!

– Stairwell’s, 2015