A Stroll Through Mt. Washington in 1875

Published on facebook by Julie Rimer · July 16 2016·

In the June 10, 1875 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mt. Washington was featured in an article authored by a man whose byline was simply “A.H.M.” This is the title of the article in its entirety: Mt. Washington…A Trip to this Delightful Suburb – Incidents on the Way – The Village – Who Live There and How They Live – Pretty Cottages Embowered in Roses – A Beautiful Country that Badly Needs a Railroad.

In this article and in others written in the 1800s, the word most frequently used to describe Mt. Washington was “charming.” While today Mt. Washington feels urban, it was considered to be “in the country” in the 1800s. Many of its residents had summer homes here, while their primary homes were located in such places as Walnut Hills, Clifton and Hyde Park. In 1875, it took a full hour to travel the final three miles from Linwood to Mt. Washington.

If you are curious, the full text of the article is posted. If you would prefer a summary, here it is:

The author left the Linwood area to come to Mt. Washington via a “curious looking vehicle.” It was an uncomfortable ride since the vehicle’s seats were “slickery” by long usage and a person greater than 5 feet 9 inches had to stoop over in order to avoid hitting the ceiling of the vehicle. The vehicle traversed a “filled” road that crossed the Little Miami. In many newspaper articles I’ve read about that time period, that road would get washed out every spring by flooding. The writer of this article explains the people of Mt. Washington had been vainly trying for fifteen years to secure money from Hamilton County that would allow the road to be built up to a level that it could weather the spring floods. A.H.M. overhears another passenger who talks about how Mt. Washington residents must paddle a canoe to the railroad station each spring until the floodwaters recede.

He talks about how the old Union Bridge, which is at the foot of Turpin’s Woods, had become unsafe and would soon be torn down and replaced with a “handsome structure of a more modern style.” In other resources, I found that the old Union Bridge, a plain wooden structure, had been built in 1836. Prior to that bridge, the Little Miami was typically crossed in ferries, the first ferry being put into service in 1805. The Holley family established the ferry service and leased out the management of the ferry service for one hundred dollars in cash and one hundred gallons of whiskey each year. In the year this article was written, Mt. Washington did get a “fine suspension bridge” which cost Hamilton County $79,800 to build. It was 353 feet long and “in every way, a substantial and graceful structure.”

The writer of the article states that it is 3 miles from the Union Bridge to Mt. Washington over a road that winds around a steep and rugged hill. He writes, “the views of the valley and opposite hills, with the Ohio winding its way in its crooked channel, are really beautiful and excel anything I have ever seen around Cincinnati from any other direction or point.” However, the three-mile ride becomes tedious as it takes an entire hour to make the journey!

The author describes the village of Mt. Washington as consisting of one long street. On both sides of the street are “pretty little cottages, neat and cozy, pleasantly clean and inviting in appearance.” He explains that most homes are not pretentious with elaborate designs, but were clearly designed more for comfort. In his words, “The place looks like a good, old-fashioned country town, so free from anything that is modern or got up for display, that it is really refreshing, and makes one feel that they were in a village such as we once had a half-century ago, when to everybody, life was earnest, life was real.”

He describes the long rows of poplar trees that border the outside of the pavements, whose unusual abundance of foliage forms an arbor of rich, green leaves. “Almost every house is adorned and embellished with myriads of beautiful roses…some of the cottages are fairly embowered in them, for they climb over the door, around the windows and upon the roof, and cling to every tree and branch, filling the atmosphere with their fragrant perfume.”

He says that in recent years, some well-to-do merchants from the city have discovered the beauty and health of Mt. Washington and have built homes here. He talks about Charles Wolf, owner of a large, wholesale dry goods firm on Race Street. He says Mr. Wolf spends large sums of money each year keeping his thirty acres of property in Mt. Washington in order. “To say that they are beautiful does not do them justice. His house, without being conspicuous…is a model of comfort and indicative of the modest character of its owner. It is of frame, surrounded with large porches, complete in the interior, and tastefully painted and decorated on the outside. The grounds are Mr. Wolf’s pride and kept with the nicety of our Spring Grove.” Charles Wolf is buried in Mt. Washington Cemetery under a beautiful, obelisk headstone.

He talks about another resident, Captain Ben Kline, a St. Louis merchant, who owns a magnificent brick mansion immediately opposite Mr. Wolf’s home. “His lawn is a bed of velvet green, and the beautiful knoll in the rear of his house is covered with such oaks as one seldom sees…No artificial means could have given it the graceful slope and perfect lines of beauty that dame Nature has done.”

Aaron Colter, also buried in Mt. Washington Cemetery, also had a delightful home here. He was “owner of the large grocery house of A.A. Colter and Company…a large fruit-packing and canning establishment, where during the proper season he cans and bottles peaches, apples, plums, pears, tomatoes, corn, pickles, etc., by the hundreds of bushels, bringing them to the city, from whence he ships them all over the country.”

Esther Whetstone, whose whole family is buried in Mt. Washington Cemetery, is described as “living in the old family mansion.” The approach to her home is lined with wonderfully tall, old locusts, which “raise their green boughs heavenward.”

The author concludes, “The country and scenery around Mt. Washington exceeds in beauty anything around our city…It is a pastoral country, suggesting upon its sloping hills and rolling knolls, shepherds and their flocks. It presents to the eye a landscape that brings a peaceful feeling, and that makes one feel better as they gaze, and perhaps inspires them with good resolves to be purer and truer in their future life. It rests both body and soul, and brings one nearer to God.”