Things to talk about on a slow day at the office:
Why are both Somerset, Ky. and Cincinnati, Ohio called “Queen City?”
Second question: How do you spend “an extra day” in Cincinnati, as suggested by Cincinnati USA.com, without driving up I-75 or flying into Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport?
Answers to both questions are related. Gib Gosser, executive director of Downtown Somerset Development Corporation and Somerset historian, explains it this way: “Cincinnati is called ‘Queen City.’ Cincinnati built a railroad through Somerset so we became known as ‘Little Queen City.’”
“Little Queen City” didn’t suit the strong sense of place that is the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, so the nickname was modified to “Queen City of the Cumberlands.”
Back to the second question: How do you spend an extra day in Cincinnati without actually crossing the Ohio River?
It’s easy. Hobos do it all the time. Go down to the railroad tracks that go north-south through Somerset. You may not be able to see the skyline, but you’re on Cincinnati soil. The City of Cincinnati built the railroad from Cincinnati through Pulaski County and Somerset to Chattanooga, beginning in 1869. Cincinnati still owns the railroad.
While you visit Cincinnati in Somerset, stay out of the way of freight trains; about 50 trains a day rumble along this busy main line of Norfolk Southern Railway System. Standing on the tracks looking for a glimpse of the bright lights of the big city could leave your body strewn along the right of way.
The Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway (CNO&TP) is a railroad that runs from Cincinnati south to Chattanooga, Tennessee, forming part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system.
John Curp, solicitor for the City of Cincinnati, pointed out that when a Somersetonian is on the tracks and right of way of Cincinnati’s railroad he or she “ ... is on property owned by the City of Cincinnati and not within the corporate limits of Cincinnati. However, based on a journalistic philosophy never to let facts stand in the way of a good story, we have no problem if locals feel like an urbanite as they walk along the tracks.
Curp said the rail line is owned by Cincinnati and is leased to the CNO&TP under a long-term agreement. It is the only such long-distance railway owned by a municipality in the United States. The railroad extends only a couple of hundred yards north of the bridge over the Ohio River. The remainder of the railroad is in Kentucky and Tennessee, Culp noted.
The CNO&TP's lease is currently set to expire in 2026, with an option for a 25-year renewal. The agreement is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the mayor of the Cincinnati, Curp said.
Construction of the railway was spurred by a shift of Ohio River shipping, at the time an important economic engine in Cincinnati, to the nascent railroad industry. Fearful of losing further shipping traffic (and its commensurate employment and tax revenue), Cincinnati recognized the need to remain competitive by developing its own railroad infrastructure.
Forbidden by the Ohio Constitution from forming a partnership with a stock corporation in such an endeavor, the city took upon itself the building of the railway, and city voters approved $10 million in municipal bonds in 1869 to begin construction,” according to Wikipedia.
A fellow by the name of Edward A. Ferguson, an attorney, was instrumental in getting the railroad built through Pulaski County. His name was bestowed on our own City of Ferguson, location of The Shops where about 600 men were employed to repair steam engines.
Apparently, the fact that Cincinnati owns property in Somerset is not a big deal in the Ohio city. We talked with Larry Harris, urban conservator for the City of Cincinnati in the Historic Conservation Office, and he wasn’t aware that his city owns a swath of land through Somerset.
“(But) we’re still called the “Queen City,” said Harris. “At one time our police cars had a “crown” (decal) on the doors,” he recalled.
Somerset doesn’t take advantage of its “queenly” status. Queen City of the Cumberlands is rarely, if ever, mentioned. The ups and downs of Lake Cumberland is the focal point of our publicity.
The Somerset Journal, weekly predecessor of the daily Commonwealth Journal, many years ago included Queen City of the Cumberlands in its masthead. However, in later years, it dropped that to boast about being the only Democratic newspaper in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
We end this saga with a word of advice: If you want to see the Reds play baseball at Great American Ball Park, you will have to drive or fly into Cincinnati. Not even a portable television set will pick up Fox Sports Ohio down on the railroad tracks.
Things to talk about on a slow day at the office:
Autistic man expresses himself through art
Take a walk down the main hallway of the Stoner Building on the campus of Somerset Community College starting in April, and you might think you’re surrounded by a gorgeous array of storyboards for Disney Pixar films: Brightly colored animals romping about in lavish jungle scenes, the kind of thing likely to bring a smile to any child’s face.
Memories of how things used to be in 1960s Somerset
An old photograph of shoppers in downtown Somerset revived sweet memories of how things used to be. Best we can tell by car models, the photograph was made about 1962.
American Idol hopeful has local connection
If you’ve been following the journey of this year’s crop of “American Idol” contestants, you’re probably familiar with the name Briston Maroney.
But did you know that the talented young vocalist has a local connection?
A resident of Knoxville, Tenn., Maroney was featured in the Salt Lake City, Utah, auditions, which aired on January 29.
- Northern Middle student gets to perform with country star Brad Paisley
Pulaski seniors remember blistering cold temperatures in 60s
Senior citizens around here don’t get as excited about the current cold snap as do youthful meteorologists who give forecasts on television.
The temperature dropped to 4 below zero early Tuesday morning but this is really small potatoes compared to the 28 below on January 24, 1963, or 32 below on January 19, 1994.
Charlene Cundiff well remembers that cold January morning in 1963.
- Beach Buckets to host Platters singer Friday
Local woman donates kidney to member of her church
This Christmas has a very special meaning to one local woman who received the gift of life itself from the most unlikely of places.
- Center’s ‘Spirit of Giving’ event on Dec
JFK assassination remembered
Pulaski countians are joining millions today as they pause to remember one of the blackest moments in this nation’s history. This is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States.
Northern Middle students get a reality check on life
It’s hard enough for adults to learn the ins and outs of car payments, mortgages, bills, health care costs, and child care expenses.
So imagine how difficult juggling the necessities of everyday life looks to 12- and 13-year-olds.
“I won’t be able to do a whole lot that I wanted to do,” said student Rachel Blevins, 12, during Northern Middle School’s popular “Reality Town” program. “I learned I will have to spend my money wisely.”
Blevins and the rest of Northern Middle School’s 7th grade population on Wednesday underwent a reality check of sorts, thanks to a program that has been offered to the students for 15 years now.
“We’re just giving them a dose of reality,” said Kathy Sampson, youth services center coordinator with Northern Middle.
When the students step foot into the school gym, they leave middle school and enter a very adult-looking world of banks, car payments, child care, health care costs, unexpected expenses, mortgages, groceries and utility bills, and even “Uncle Sam” himself — think taxes, taxes, and more taxes.
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- Autistic man expresses himself through art