See Also: Railroad Strike 1894
In the 1870’s, officials of the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railroad began looking for a route through Northern Kentucky to Cincinnati. The City of Covington was the obvious choice because of its size and influence in the region. Ludlow, however, was also being considered. The Ludlow family decided to provide a right-of-way through their property near Traverse Street to the railroad if they would locate in the city. Railroad officials quickly accepted the offer.
In general, the citizens of Ludlow also welcomed the railroad. For a number of years, Ludlow residents were forced to rely on ferry service to travel to Cincinnati. The ferry operator did not keep a reliable schedule and he often charged high fares. Ludlow residents looked forward to the construction of a railroad bridge with footpath that would link their city to Cincinnati.
In 1877, the railroad officially opened the bridge linking Ludlow to Cincinnati. To the great disappointment of Ludlow residents, a footpath was not constructed. The citizens eventually passed a bond issue to construct a footpath in 1885. As soon as the path was completed, the ferry operator reduced his prices. This footpath was used for decades by Ludlow residents. It was a particularly useful when residents attended Reds baseball games at old Crosley Field.
The railroad has gone been several names during its history. A various times it was called the Cincinnati Southern Railroad; the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railroad; and the Queen and Crescent Railroad.
The railroad changed Ludlow from a rural town of well-to-do residents to a working class city. The railroad employed hundreds of local workers. In addition, many factories and other business concerns located in Ludlow to take advantage of the new railroad service. Ludlow had a population of 817 in 1870. By 1890, the population had increased to 2,469. Many of these newcomers were Irish and German immigrants.
Eventually, the railroad constructed a large roundhouse and repair shop in Ludlow. The railroad also attracted the Pullman Company, which constructed a large car repair shop in 1893. By the turn of the century, over 500 men were employed directly by the railroad; several hundred others were employed in railroad related industries and businesses.
The railroad provided residents of the city with a good standard of living and reliable incomes. The dominance of the railroad in Ludlow also had a negative impact on the city. The economy of Ludlow relied on the railroad. When railroad traffic slowed, so did the Ludlow economy. Railroad strikes played havoc on economic health of the town. The Pullman Strike of 1894 nearly crippled the city (See Also: Railroad Strike 1894). The Great Depression also forced many Ludlow residents from their jobs with the railroad. At this time, several railroad operations were moved to Atlanta.
In the years following the Second World War, railroads throughout the United States began experiencing a loss of business. Long-haul trucking companies were gradually replacing railroads as the preferred method of transporting goods and materials. Eventually, Ludlow’s roundhouse and repair shops were closed.
The Southern Railroad announced the discontinuance of passenger arrivals and departures from the Ludlow Deport in 1968. Eventually, the depot was demolished, ending a near century of railroad service to the people of Ludlow.
Today, Norfolk Southern Railroad employs only a few residents of the city. However, the Ludlow yards continue to house the main engine terminal for Cincinnati area.
News Enterprise, February 8, 1968, p. 1; Ludlow Centennial Souvenir Program, 1864-1964, p. 14.