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The CL&N Tunnel

Cincinnati, Ohio

The Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern Railroad tunnel (sometimes referred to as the Oak Street Tunnel) is a portion of a defunct rail line that once connected Cincinnati to Lebanon, and further on to Dayton, Ohio. At nearly 1/2 mile long, the tunnel is at a steep grade, and curves to the east at the southern end. The tunnel was constructed around 1881 with the rest of the CL&N line, and originally carried two narrow-gauge rail lines. The tunnel was later converted to carry two standard gauge lines, despite not being wide enough for two trains to pass simultaneously. An accident in 1916 led to the reconfiguration of the rail line to one standard rail, forcing trains to stop at either end and wait for a clear signal to pass.

The rail ties from the single line still remain in the tunnel, and the tunnel is in a fair condition overall. The arch brickwork sits atop a solid concrete foundation, and the few cracks that have appeared over time have been repaired. The tunnel functioned through the 1980's, and other remnants of the rail line are still viewable up and along the I-71 corridor: including two overpasses over the highway. The tunnel is currently owned by SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority) and will be maintained in hope of being utilized for future passenger rail service. The width of the tunnel would pose a problem for any future usage, however.

CL&N Tunnel

Inside the abandoned CL&N tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

Traffic on the intersate zooms past the hidden, abandoned entrance to the CL&N tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

The overgrown portal of the CL&N tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

A long exposure inside the dark and damp CL&N tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

View from the surface of the tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

View around the bend of the tunnel and out toward the southern portal.

CL&N Tunnel

The inside of the tunnel, backlit with a combination of daylight from several hundred feet away and flashlights up close.

CL&N Tunnel

The dark bend in the abandoned tunnel.

CL&N Tunnel

The exit portal.

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