My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 36: Ault Park (RK LeBlond Factory, United States Printing Company and Playing Card Company, Murdocks, and much more)

This morning was the first time I have “skipped” a sunrise. By means of coincidental timing and a wife who wishes me to stay intact and electrically solvent, I stayed in bed while the electrical Armageddon took place outside our window at exactly 6:00am. I was considering hopping on my lightly isolated steel lightning rod and riding up to the top of the mountain but I’m grateful that Amanda made the call without me having to :). The timing of the morning storm was impeccable, at 5:30am I had woken up early, noting that the rain that passed through at 3:00am had stopped. But by the time sunrise approached, a new front rolled through the area and brought with it intense electrical behavior, including several thunderous cracks that lit up someone’s tree in the immediate vicinity. I opted instead to finish writing the article from Saturday, Sunrise 36, which involves my most adventurous exploration yet. Knowing that I would still have a post to make for today made it that much easier to not venture out into the chaos.

Fair warning – lots of pictures here, sorry if it slows down your computer!

I got up with the sun on Saturday morning and went exploring around the area, this time deciding to venture north a bit. The only real item on the agenda for the morning was getting up to the Rookwood Pavilion and seeing what I could find out first hand about the remnants of the old R.K. LeBlond factory. I found out about the history behind the factory after exploring the St. Ursula Villa, which was LeBlond’s old estate. I had heard that the old industrial site had sits at what is now the Rookwood Pavilion, a shopping area developed in the mid 1990s. The developers, as it turned out, were respectful enough to keep the old factory and “smoke stack” intact. The factory building itself is now a Don Pablo’s Mexican Grill. I also explored the now-defunct rail line that runs to the south of the pavilion as well as the grassy “urban prairie” to the north of the shopping district that at one time was a small neighborhood that succumbed to the “eminent domain” of over-zealous developers whose plans have themselves succumbed to the recent recessionary period. I continued north up small residential connectors into territory I’ve never explored by car or bike, and stumbled onto the beautifully grandiose “United States Printing Company” and the “United States Playing Card Company”, a building that surprisingly enough was even more impressive.

The Sunrise

After the break in the overcast weather by the great sunrise Friday morning, I was hoping for another colorful morning at the overlook. The morning sunrise was marked with a haze in the atmosphere and a light layer of upper atmosphere clouds. Once again a thick layer of fog had settled down into the valley, causing me to consider altering my proposed “RK LeBlond Exploration” in favor of a southern valley exploration. I have been meaning to take pictures of Lunken Airport and a morning with thick fog and a clear morning sun would provide some fantastic lighting opportunities. In the end I saved this for another day, although I put off making a decision about it for another hour or so – wondering if I could in fact do both.

If you’re on the main page, click to continue. 100+ pictures in total today –>

The first few seconds of the sunrise were the highlight of the event. At first I thought that the sun would not make an appearance until about 10-15 minutes after the estimated time – something that commonly happens when there is a low-lying cloud bank or a thick layer of fog. I was caught off guard when I looked up and saw the purple half-sun rising over the horizon – at the same time deep dark purple and also a light gray that almost blended into the fog. The moon was also high overhead, slightly fuller than the last time I saw it.

I only ended up staying at the overlook for about ten minutes in total. I hopped back on the bike after taking the overlook picture that will eventually be part of a timelapse set, and headed off out of the park. I checked the time – 06:45am. I had approximately two hours before I had to be home, time to make it count :). Amanda and I were heading down to Over-The-Rhine (OTR), where she was participating in the 5K run through the historic Italianate neighborhood. As I link to that wikipedia page about Italianate architecture, I learn several interesting things about Cincinnati. Apparently Cincinnati is also considered to be the first American Boom Town because it was the first town not settled by Europeans. The OTR architecture is a direct result of that American Heritage. I also am now coming to understand the influences that led to the creation of the Italianate buildings all over Cincinnati that I have come across on my bike adventures – including both the Crusade Castle Vineyard and the Linwood Public School. Later on my morning ride I will discover even more Italianate buildings at the site of the United States Playing Card Company. I’ve also made a new category – Italianate – where I will include any post (and past posts that I tag post hoc) with Italianate Architecture dating prior to 1950 as an arbitrary date.

En Route – The Observatory

I ended up heading directly into Hyde Park from Ault Park. One of the most spectacular things that I’ve realized is that you can go anywhere in Cincinnati on a bike – but you just have to do it at 7:00am on a Saturday morning. The streets are clear of traffic, the atmosphere is bright enough to be seen without a head lamp, and you are joined on all sides by joggers, walkers, doggers, and other cyclists. It is a chance to see cycles in the fabric of the city, both social and commercial, that otherwise get lost in the hustle and bustle of the late morning and afternoon. In fact I even realized as I eventually crossed through the Rookwood Pavilion that I was not only biking through an area for the first time, but that it is also one of the busiest and highest traffic intersections around. I wondered if I was accidentally stranding myself on the other side of a dry river bed that would soon fill up with the incoming tide of automobile traffic.

The first stop I made was to the Mt. Lookout Observatory – a favorite spot that is close to the park, quiet, and takes zero effort to check out if I’m already in the area. I took the time to actually document some of the more subtle details of the Observatory that I have overlooked on my past visits.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the presence of yet another Murdock fountain. This fountain, however, was a new design that I haven’t seen yet. It has a “Murdock” logo stamped on the side, and it has been re-painted several times to the point where it is getting difficult to read the raised metal letters on the side of the post. I think this officially marks the “fifth” fountain that I’ve tagged for this project. The others are found in Ault Park (3 sets), Alms Park (1 set), and the Linwood Public School.

There was also something interesting about the lamp post. The first thing that sticks out is the ivy metal work going up the post. As I scanned up to the top of the light pole, I saw lettering that I was barely able to make out due to the paint that has filled the spaces between the bubble letters. The lettering indicated that there was a patent on the lamp post from the late 1800s – probably either 1889 or 1899 (I couldn’t read the  decade year, but it was bubbly like an 8 or 9). Seeing as how the main Observatory was builtin the early 1870s, that would put this light post as being one of the original posts on this location. It could even be possible that this post was electric from the beginning – a luxury in the late 1800s but possible none the less to a civic monument like the Observatory.

In the center of the cul-de-sac there is a memorial to Paul Nohr. From his obituary @ UC:


At age 66, Paul Nohr, astronomer with the Cincinnati Observatory Center and UC instructor, died suddenly in June of a rare kidney sarcoma. He was known for providing technical support for UC’s astronomy lab and had served as the observatory’s coordinator from 1979-99, managing daily operations, maintaining equipment, writing software, giving tours and lecturing. He also had restored the observatory’s two historic refracting telescopes, originally built in 1842 and 1904, and his comet photographs, shot through the telescopes, have been used by NASA.

The memorial is a sun dial that uses the observer’s shadow to tell the time. It is large and is aligned with the main observatory building. Quite a fitting tribute and it appears to be in excellent shape. I wonder if a sunrise traveler in 50 years will stop by the Observatory and wonder about the state of the Observatory half a century ago.

Behind the Observatory is a beautiful green lawn with an old radio tower that appears to have reached it’s peak decades ago but could still be in use. In the middle of the lawn sits a small stone structure that was placed by the U.S. Coastguard 1881, eight years after the Observatory’s move from Mt. Adams to its current site in Mt. Lookout.

Hyde Park Square

On the way out from the Observatory I stopped to take a few pictures of two of the local homes. The homes by the Observatory have an distinguished edge of class, and a handful of them appear to be quite old. You can always pick out the really old homes in Cincinnati because they will typically have more than one large fireplace. Just outside the Observatory is such a home and it sits beautifully on top of its plot with a healthy flower garden.

Traveling up Observatory to Hyde Park Square, where I planned to kick up a wild pot of coffee from the bush, I passed this quaint Victorian home. I know nothing about it other than I never miss an opportunity to look at it while I drive or bike by.

Approaching the square we come to the Hyde Park Methodist Episcopal Church. The church dates back to 1927 and boasts a National Historic Register plaque at the entrance.

I also pass by Element Cycles, the local bike shop that I head to on Thursdays to partake in the group ride out through Madeira and Indian Hill.

Up the road a bit, I come across the newly developed condominiums. I forgot to get the name of the building or the developer, but the building is meant to be “green” and modern. As I document the many structures that rose in the early 1900s, it seems fitting to include a building from over a century later built in the modern 2010 era of green energy and organic colors :).

Although I didn’t get a full picture of the square, this shot approaching the square can give the idea of architecture of the buildings. Here we see the Engine Company No. 46 in Hyde Park. Cincinnati Views has some old pictures of the Fire House, including this old postcard from the early 1900s (date unknown). I’m sure the good folks at the Cincinnati Fire Museum have a lot to say about the building. Interestingly enough, the photograph of the Hyde Park Fire House mentions the turn of the century canal systems. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I wonder how this area was connected to the old canal systems? Erie Avenue runs through Hyde Park, after all, no doubt named after the famous Miami & Erie Canal that ran through downtown Cincinnati (and also up north through my hometown of Troy, Oh).

Continuing into the square, I stop to take a single picture of a building that stands out to me because it is named “Columbia Square”. Perhaps it is a coincidence, or perhaps a namesake in honor of Columbia-Tusculum that sits only two miles from here. In the back of my mind I wonder if Columbia Square is a real place, or perhaps an old name prior to Hyde Park Square?

I stop by one of the buildings that I definitely wanted to document on this trip. What is currently Teller’s of Hyde Park, the building is the old Home of the Hyde Park Savings Bank. I love the old Bank buildings that can be found in every old village in Cincinnati. At the time it was built, in 1922, the building no doubt tells customers and citizens that the bank represents longevity stability. So much so that they engraved the name of the bank in stone on the structure itself. Almost a century later the bank no longer exists, likely gobbled up by a larger conglomerate (I’m looking at you Fifth Third, perhaps even PNC). Here is an article I found that highlights some more history of Hyde Park Square.

I ended up stopping into the Echo Cafe for a coffee refill (I had forgot to brew the night before). I hoped to find the picture of Hyde Park Square that dates back to the early 1900s, showing horse drawn carriages and a green lawn. As of this writing, I realize that I owe the square another visit because I completely forgot to investigate the small park that runs between the two lanes of traffic and the fountain / memorial at the center of it. No doubt there is a feral Murdock Fountain living somewhere in the area – a fact that I completely overlooked as I continued towards the R.K. LeBlond factory.

Before leaving the square I stopped to check out two other buildings. The first, known as La Tosca, is a “high-density” residential apartment building that was built in 1915. There are many such buildings from the turn of the century in this area. They are recognized by the distinct brick pattern. Typically there are frills and interesting patterns up along the top of the building. For reasons I don’t quite understand, most of the apartment buildings built between 1900 and 1940 are all uniquely named, with the name proudly displayed above the entrance. There was a time that rail cars ran from this area (the “suburbs” of the early 1900s) to downtown, carrying professionals to their office jobs. There is another building in east Hyde Park, about a half a mile from the square, that is fascinating because of how huge it is. It takes up what seems like three city blocks. There are many other clones of these buildings scattered throughout the century-old suburbs of Cincinnati, and Ludlow has some of the best examples. In modern times, with the rail cars a long-gone history killed by the automotive and parkway tycoons, the huge apartment buildings have no parking lots which no doubt serve as an annoying reminder for the residents of a public transportation system from a time gone by.

The second building is the local elementary school. This school is built with the familiar red tile that also reminds me of the Linwood Public School. The building was put up in 1900 with a brick expansion that was built sometime in the next century. The school is currently the home of the Mt. Washington School. I wish I could say more about the current state of the school but I am a bit low on information regarding the local school system.

Rookwood Pavilion and R.K. LeBlond’s Legacy

I continued up to Rookwood Pavilion, the original focus of this trip. Rookwood Pavilion is a modern shopping center with lots of stores, including clothing, restaurants, grocery, home goods, book stores, etc. I believe it was built in the mid 1990s and I’ve recently found out it was built on the site of R.K. LeBlond’s factory. I was unsure of how big the original site was, or how much additional land had to be purchased to facilitate the development.

Before diving into the shopping center, I rode along the border of the site, exploring the “No Outlets” that line southern part of the shopping center. These dead-ends no doubt connected through the site at one time. There is also a rail line that runs along the border of the shopping center and I remember briefly checking it out a few years ago.

I found the rail line at the end of one of the aforementioned “No Outlets”. This was very interesting to me because you can see how the road, at one time, continued straight into the current location of the shopping center. You can also see how much of a drop there is down into the parking lot on the other side of the fence.

Just to the right of the street there is an old metal railroad control structure. I know not much about railroad mechanics so I’ll just have to leave this one unidentified.

Looking to the left down the line I notice there is an obstruction about 80 yards away, probably a plank of wood. The rail line appears to disappear into the forest, with the plants getting taller as you get away from the road I’m standing on. This line is definitely defunct. I wonder how far it goes into the forest and how much of the rail line is still intact on the other side of the forest. I don’t get a chance to venture into the forest because I forgot my bike lock and didn’t want to leave my bike to fend for itself.

I continue to the right, up the tracks. I came across an old rail switch and a piece of rail that no doubt connected the old LeBlond factory to the rail system. The patent on the rail switch indicates this was installed as recently as 1964, which would be a full half-century after LeBlond’s factory was built. It could be that this rail line was original but the switch was replaced in the 1960s, continuing to provide rail access up north through this site to the industries of Norwood.

The switch has a stamped “Racor e-2229” on it. Googling reveals next to nothing besides this trademark from 1923.

You can see that the rail branches into what is now the parking lot of the Rookwood Pavilion shopping center. I decided at this moment it would be a goal of mine to find other remnants of this rail line around the other side of the shopping center. I wondered if I could find the other pieces of the connector that run into the north side of the district, perhaps even continuing up into Norwood.

The stone pillar says “C5”.

In the distance you can see the main objective – the “smoke stack” of the old LeBlond factory.

Notice how you can see the brick layer exposed under the layer of asphault. This brick is probably really, really old. Well, at least late 1800s old.

Down below in the parking lot, I find where the rail line would have connected through. You can see the cement foundation jutting out from the grassy hill.

The rail line is located up on top of that wall. Look at how much brick is underneath the rail, necessary to support a passing freight train. You can also see clues as to what this site used to be. The vertical chunks of cement probably are old pieces of a wall, indicating that this used to be a building that sat right along the rail line. I imagine I’m standing in the basement of that building almost a century and a half later.

The brick, continuing until it is hidden by the grassy hill.

I continue along the edge of the district, heading for the LeBlond Factory. I stop by the main entrance to get a picture of the old brick building, now covered in ivy, that quietly sits at the main road. I can only imagine that this is part of the original LeBlond factory, or at least an axillary or neighboring factory. I really doubt the developers spent the money on building a dilapidated brick building to add to the “ambiance” of the site. I don’t know what it is or how old it is. Consider it a mystery. The Rookwood Pavilion website really doesn’t have any history on it, and they’ve not returned my email inquiries, so this remains unknown.

Just behind me, on Madison Ave, is the railroad crossing. At first it appears that you’d want to watch yourself as you cross the rails, and not stop on the tracks during a red light. However upon further review the mechanical integrity of the rail sign is significantly compromised.

As we continue into the actual shopping center, I notice a few key things about the buildings. You see, there is actually two parts to this shopping center. The first half, which we are entering now, is marked by buildings that have a darker red brick color to them. This is also the only half which has the historic buildings – including the entrance ‘ivy’ building, the RK LeBlond factory, and this clock tower. It is also the only half where the buildings attempt to emulate the classic style, even going as far as to include LeBlond’s logo in the corners of the new buildings.

The history of this clock tower is unknown. I want to believe it is original because the shape is so out of place. It houses a small candy shop but the top 3/4 of it are unused. Behind the clock is LeBlond’s logo, a kind of “Fleur-de-lis” that can be seen on the buildings in the pavilion. The fact that it reminds me of the Fleur-de-lis can’t be a coincidence, although at this point I have no idea what it means or how it is connected. I imagine it is a part of LeBlond’s coat of arms.

Across the parking lot we can see the old factory.

I stop to look at the Stein Mart that sits halfway between the clock tower and the Don Pablos restaurant / factory. The other buildings look modern, and even with the LeBlond logo they don’t fool me as being original. This building, however, is different. It is of the same deep rich red brick as the LeBlond factory. I have a feeling that it is an original building, so I start to look for clues. You can see (if you click the image to zoom in) the LeBlond “Fleur-de-lis” on the top center of the building, and you can see the green tile with yellow and blue geometric patterns in the center and on the side. I’m going to go ahead and call this an original building because, unlike the other buildings, it seems to have been “retro-fitted” for SteinMart. The green tiles that are an obvious highlight of the building are hidden behind the SteinMart logo. It also shares similar design features to the Don Pablos factory which I know is original. Perhaps not that overwhelming, but thats all I have.

And now we finally approach the Don Pablo’s / R.K. LeBlond factory and “smokestack”. The reason I keep putting the “smokestack” in quotes is because I now have a new theory as to what it actually is. Yes, it is so important that I put it in bold! I was randomly browsing the interent a few weeks ago, after exploring the LeBlond estate / St. Ursula Villa, when I found an article about how they used to make buck shot back in the day. The process involved taking liquid hot lead up to the top of a “shot tower” and drop it through a copper sieve so that it was separated into small pieces. The pieces would fall through the air, turning spherical and cooling, until dropping into a water basin where they would be collected. If they were found to be round enough, they were packaged up and sold. If not they were re-melted and the process started over. I realized that this structure HAS to be a shot tower. I may be wrong about this, but there are several reasons why I think that this is the case. Ready?

  1. First, a commentor on my original LeBlond Estate Article mentioned that there were several ammunition factories in Cincinnati at the turn of the century, including the LeBlond factory.
  2. LeBlond got his fortune based on having the first patent on a specific kind of Lathe. He went on to make Lathes and sell machinery, but as it turns out his first practical application was a kind of gun-boring lathe. When World War I hit, he made a fortune selling guns to the whole crazy world. It would make sense that he would also make ammunition, right?
  3. The base of the tower doesn’t really connect to the main building very strongly, leading me to believe it isn’t a kind of furnace used for the industrial processes.

As I’m googling around a bit more, I come across a forum post talking about the old LeBlond estate. They mention that the Don Pablos “factory” (now I use factory in quotes) may have been the power plant. Hmm. So that may bust my theory? They mention how the inside of the building still has a lot of the old machinery for opening the windows. I was in Don Pablos several years ago but I haven’t checked it out recently. We may be due for some tacos and pictures!

The LeBlond stack is still well preserved, including the logo and tile work.

On the way out of the shopping center I stopped by “The Pub” to check out the mural of “Rookwood Mews”. I am not quite sure what they mean by the “mews”? Upon googling it, it appears that mews are a type of horse stables. So “Rookwood Mews” may simply reference a fictional non-existent English stable named after the Rookwood Commons.

Cincinnati loves its pigs.

A view of the back side. I believe this part was built after the first part’s success was imminent. You can tell the designers dropped the LeBlond brick look and took up a more modern design.

The Urban Prairie

Across smith road there is a grassy prairie. I don’t know much about it other than I believe it used to be the home of a small neighborhood of Norwood residents. The City of Norwood “eminent domain“ed the residents so that hotels and offices could be built after the success of the Rookwood Pavilion. A single stubborn homeowner challenged the city and put the development on hold for several years. After getting off the highway you could see the single house standing in the middle of the grassy lot. He ended up winning, and by the time it was all over the economy had tanked and the development was put on hold.

The lot, now probably at least five years old, is a beautiful example of an urban prairie. The grass is thick and healthy and the few trees that are no doubt a remnant of someone’s front garden have grown tall and healthy providing a great place for birds to nest up. The field was alive with bird calls and insects. I couldn’t resist heading up the dilapidated entrance – evntually picking up and carrying my bike for fear of broken glass.

The crosswalk is still present and the button still works, although there is no sidewalk or pedestrians to service it. I’d like to think that in the back office of some city engineer a light went off when I pressed the “Press to Walk” button that hasn’t lit up in a decade.

This group of trees was probably at one time someone’s privacy garden. Now it is a safe haven for local birds.

A hidden fire hydrant lives in the middle of the large lot. It has sprung a leak and was providing a welcome source of water, as well as a miniature pond, for the local grass. I’d like to come back here in a few months to see how high the grass around the hydrant has become.

A final view of the lot with the LeBlond building located directly in the back. You can see the tip of the brick column (now I don’t know what to call it!) poking over the top of the office building. I kind of want to ask the City of Norwood if they are interested in making it a park – but it may be a bit too early for that considering how much they paid to have it leveled.

I head down an unfamiliar residential path with no destination in mind. I realize I’ve fallen into the “automobile mindset” and am on a major through-road of the neighborhood. I quickly take the first left that turns out is a “no outlet”, and venture into the tip of Norwood. I’ve never been this far north on my bike and it is proving to be quite the experience.

A Smokestack in the Distance – The United States Printing Company and The United States Playing Card Company

Off in the distance I see a tall tower, a classic indicator of the Italianate architecture mentioned earlier, and a smoke stack. I think to myself “A challenger approaches – is it a smoke stack or a shot tower?”. I decide to go check it out and see what’s going on in that part of town.

As I approach the block that the tower sits in, I am blown away by the sheer magnitude of this large building. The building is four stories tall and taking up a huge amount of the local area. As it turns out, the building is the original location “United States Printing Company”. Another graphic design company has since moved in, but you can tell just by the magnitude of this building that at one time this company meant business. A likely remnant from the American printing industry of the early 1900s. As it turns out, this building is connected to the rich history of the playing card industry in the United States, an industry that I learn is based out of Cincinnati. The history of the company is just fascinating, seriously check it out if you’re interested.

On the other side of the road there is a memorial to a “Theodore C Dorl”, a man who died in 1938.

Continuing down the road, I come across the even more beautiful “United States Playing Card Company”. While the previous building was grandiose but conservative, this building is decked out with trim and style. I come to learn (thanks Google) that the Neo-Romanesque tower was built in 1938 and provided a chiming bell system that was meant to be broadcasat over radio. Back before there was restriction for radio power, bridge lessons would be broadcast as far as New Zealand.

Here is what the Bicycle Playing Card’s history says about the tower:

A Neo-Romanesque bell tower (4-stories high) was built in 1926 atop the company’s 4-story main building entrance. This tower housed a fine set of 12 carillon bells, ranging in size from 1-1/2 to 5-1/2 feet. This was the first set of chimes built for radio broadcasting.The chimes were connected electronically to radio station WSAI, which was owned and operated by The United States Playing Card Company from 1922 until 1930 and located within the USPC complex.The main reason for the radio station was to promote the game of bridge by broadcasting bridge lessons. In those days, there was no limitation on the range of radio power and the WSAI transmission was so clear and strong that it could be picked up as far away as New Zealand. WSAI was eventually sold in the 1930’s to the Crosley Radio Corporation.

As it turns out the company was started in 1867 and moved to this location in 1900 from downtown Cincinnati. They have since (in 2009) moved down to northern Kentucky after being lured out of Norwood by generous tax breaks.

One of the most fascinating things about the company is how the neighborhood surrounding the area is designed around the building. When looking towards the road with your back to the doors of the building, you can immediately see the long grassy boulevard that stretches out in front of you with homes on either side. The neighborhood is in great shape and seemed clean and safe. The buildings were all the same style 1950s-era four family apartment buildings that you can find sprinkled around Cincinnati.

On the way home – it was now approaching 8:40am – I saw a yard sale starting to develop across the street from the United States Playing Card Company building. I was lured in by a Trek roadbike. I went back later the day to see if it was still around but it had sold quickly. I came home with some fresh (old) vinyl: Neil Young’s Havest, a Buffalo Springfield album, and a Door’s album, so all was not lost :). I asked the guy if he knew anything about the old building across the street, and how long it has been since it gave up its ghost. He said that he actually used to work there (!!), and he pointed out his third story office where he spent most of the day. That is when I learned that they had moved the company down to Kentucky. He expressed his anger at their decision, stating that the building was not for sale for $3,000,000. I can imagine that having a 1 minute commute replaced with a 40 minute drive would be a shocking surprise.

Over-The-Rhine 5K

After booking it home (oops was it already 9:00am?) we went down to Over-The-Rhine for the 5K race and summer festival. I’ll save Over-The-Rhine for another post and another day. In the meantime I’ll share the few pictures I took. Notice the architecture of the buildings that have been recently restored. Great things are happening down there, let’s hope OTR keeps on the up-and-up!

Thank you for reading, if you made it this far. This was by far the most thorough exploration I’ve done to date. The next few days will probably be weak on writing since I’m going to be enjoying the sunrise for the final days before I hit the 40-mark 🙂 We’ll see what happens when that time comes.

17 responses

  1. Tara

    Holy moly that was A LOT of info! I am flabbergasted with your work on this blog. My morning Cincinnati history lesson!

    I’m sure you already know of this but I used to live in Morrow and bike/inline skate on the bike trail all the time. When passing through Kings Mills you go right by the Peters Cartridge Company which is a munitions manufacturing complex built in the 1860s. It’s an interesting structure that I always wanted to explore but the creepy factor kept me away. I also noticed people to be milling around the factory so I wasn’t sure if I was welcome or not. Somehow I had the feeling not. How cool it would be if it was restored and used for shops or bistros or a museum.

    P.S. That leaking fire hydrant is making me twitch. Wasted water. 😦

    May 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

    • Thanks Tara! Yeah while I was out on the bike I kept thinking to myself “I should not take this picture, I’ve got too my already”. But it was always over-ridden. It took about as long to write the article as it did to go on the ride, haha. Thank you for reading it 🙂

      I really want to check out the Peters Cartridge Company – I have never heard of it (or most things over in Kings Mills). I’m going to have to check out that bike trail. I’ve heard there were many munitions plants in Cincinnati during WWI and WWII but I don’t know much about where they are. There is an old “Acme” plant in the back of downtown that is being taken over by the forest in Over-The-Rhine. One day I’ll check that out, but probably from the street. It is really nestled back in there.


      May 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

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  9. Pam

    I left a note on your Facebook page re: background info on the Rookwood Pavillion property and the railroad behind it. I loved seeing the photo story. Great job.

    March 27, 2012 at 9:04 am

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  11. Frank

    My father worked at R.K. LeBlond, that old delapidated ‘shack’ was the guard house at the main entrance gate. Just inside and to the right was a “lake” (yep, that’s what they called it back then). Straight ahead was the paking lot that reach to the clock tower.

    January 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

  12. John Coffey

    One of your pictures shows a railroad track supported by bricks and concrete wall. well the concrete wall was 24 garages that were for the forman’s at Leblonds. The clock tower was one of the four story 6 foot wide stair cases for the main office building, and the tracks led to the power house, Don Pablo’s, to supply coal that ran the entire company. By the way I replaced the hands on the clock in 69 when I worked there. There is a tunnel that led to the factory from the power house that housed the steam pipes and electric that were both produced in the power house. I still have the master key that fits the guard shack. Great job on the pictures!!

    May 1, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, John. I wonder if that tunnel is still there? Thanks for filling in some of the missing gaps!


      May 2, 2013 at 7:11 am

  13. Bob

    More on R K LeBlond lathes. I recall a Japanese garden inspired by a trip to Japan on site too.

    .some very nice lathes were made across from Arbor Pl. Some pics in library of congress . “Significance: The Madison and Edwards Road plant of The R.K. Le Blond Machine Tool Company (in service 1918-1989) is an example of the early 20th century “factory beautiful” movement in American industry. At this location a prominent Cincinnati area manufacturer of machine tools established itself as the industry’s foremost producer of lathes, and through mid-century dominated the world market for specialized lathes for the machining of engine crankshafts and for gun boring. The impact of this manufacturing plant on 20th century culture has been significant both during peacetime (when virtually all moving vehicles from American Hupmobiles to Soviet tractors were powered by engines with crankshafts made on Le Blond lathes) and during wartime when opponents in two world wars fired upon each other using ordinance of every size that had been bored and rifled on Le Blond equipment). Locally, the plant had significance as a major industrial employer during an era that spanned the Great Depression. ”

    November 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

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