Southwest Ohio city keeping train attraction

Published:

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) -- City officials are keeping the southwest Ohio community's train from permanently pulling out of its station.

Lebanon's city council recently approved a new two-year deal for the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad. The city owns five miles of track, and has agreed to keep up bridge inspections and maintenance, and has cut the train's lease amounts for the track and station bathrooms. The train will pay the city 50 cents each out of most passenger tickets, with the proceeds going to long-term track repairs.

Starting in downtown Lebanon, the train offers short rides around the region, with special seasonal events such as the North Pole Express trips to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus during the Christmas season. It also has had events focused around Thomas the Tank Engine, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Curious George.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/S94wM0) the train's future had become uncertain during talks on a new contract. Owner Cincinnati Railway Co. had discussed moving it to another city.

But city leaders wanted to keep it as another tourism draw for Lebanon's quaint, historic downtown, which includes the famed Golden Lamb inn and restaurant, antique shops and other attractions in the Warren County seat.

"We felt this is not a good time, in this economy, to lose the train and this part of our town," said Vice Mayor Charleen Flick.

Cincinnati Railway CEO Brian Collins said he had hoped to be able to keep the train in Lebanon, praising the city's "Norman Rockwell" style charm.

"It's picture postcard, and we've got this nice little setup down there with the little train station, parking, out offices and everything else," he said.

The train has operated under its current name since 2006. It operates on a line that dates to 1881.

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Online:

www.lebanonrr.com

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com