The Price Hill Incline was located along 8th Street and connected the Lower Price Hill and Price Hill neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Ohio. The base was located at 8th Street and Glenway Avenue and topped at 8th Street and Matson Avenue.
The incline was the idea of General Rees E. Price, a wealthy Welsh merchant.5 6 Price was an investor in land west of Mill Creek,6 where he had constructed a brickyard and sawmill, as well as a residential subdivision. But without a reliable and easy transportation avenue to connect the basin to the top, Price’s residential prospects stagnated.
The Price Hill Inclined was financed by Rees’s businesses.2 4 Rees Price, along with his sons John and William, formed the Price Hill Inclined Plane Company to construct the incline which opened on July 13, 1875.1 The incline included two passenger cars, the Highland Mary and Lily of the Valley, named after Price’s sisters.3 4 The freight track was finished a year later and could hold three or four wagons and their teams on open platforms. In total, the 800-foot incline, which ascended 350 feet at a 48.6% grade, cost $300,000.1 3 4
The incline not only served Price’s residential prospects, but Price’s own Price Hill House, nicknamed “Buttermilk Mountain” for its lack of alcohol sales.2 4 The Price Hill House was completed in 1877.6
Due to Price’s staunch anti-alcohol stance, several saloons took advantage of the situation at the Price Hill House and opened up “First Choice,” “Next Chance,” and “Last Chance” at the base of the incline.3
The completion of the Price Hill Incline led to a development boom in Price Hill, with property selling for $150 to $200 per acre.4 Large estates and farms were divided into hundreds of lots, and many who located in the burgeoning neighborhood were German Catholics from the West End and Over-the-Rhine.
After the Price family lost control of the incline, the freight operations began to carry up kegs and other previously prohibited cargo.4 The Price Hill House switched from one that provided family-oriented orchestras to zesty vaudeville productions. Patrons could enjoy their dinner and show with alcohol, as well.
In 1927, the company proposed that the Cincinnati Street Railway purchase the incline and operate buses on the freight line, but the idea was tabled.1 The freight line had been operating at a loss for some time due to the advent of the automobile, and was shuttered in December 1929.
The steam engines were replaced with electric motors in 1928.1 4 But the incline fought with competition from a growing passenger automobile population, and the business was closed in 1938.4
In the 63 years of operation, there was one recorded accident on the Price Hill Incline. A cable snapped on the freight line in 1907, which sent a cart loaded with manure down the hill killing the team of horses.4 The driver was tossed into the manure but was uninjured. Filthy, he was hauled to an adjoining saloon where drinks were provided to him by the house.