The 3.9-mile Cincinnati & Southern Ohio River Railroad (C&SOR) was completed from the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago Railway (CISL&C) in Lawrenceburg to 3rd Street in Aurora, 1 in 1886 at the cost of $80,000. 3 4 It was originally projected to parallel the Ohio River and reach Jeffersonville or New Albany, but the line was undercapitalized from its initialization and never finished to its intended destinations. 4 Despite this, the C&SOR was able to serve local industries in Lawrenceburg and Aurora despite paralleling the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad its entire length.
The C&SOR was sold to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (CCC&StL) Big Four) on December 15, 1913, becoming its Aurora Branch. 3 The Big Four was officially folded into the New York Central Railroad (NYC) in 1930. In that same year, the last passenger train operated over the line. Penn Central (PC) then owned the Aurora Branch after the NYC and Pennsylvania merged in 1968.
In 1976, PC’s Aurora Branch was folded into Conrail’s L&A Running Track. 5 Conrail abandoned the branch between Lawrenceburg and Aurora in 1979, and from Lawrenceburg Junction to Lawrenceburg in 1991. 2 5
In 1994, 9 a rail-to-trail project was proposed for the former Aurora Branch between Lawrenceburg and Aurora, starting at Lawrenceburg’s Levee Park and proceeding west, crossing Tanners Creek on a restored truss bridge, over Wilson Creek over a rebuilt wood trestle, over Hogan Creek via the existing George Street Bridge, and terminate at Lesko Park in Aurora. 6 Much of the right-of-way was owned by Indiana and Michigan Power (later American Electric Power) which was supportive of the project. 6 7
Dearborn Trails, which was promoting the construction of the trail, unsuccessfully submitted grant applications to the Indiana Department of Transportation in 1995 and 1996. 9 It was ultimately successful in 1997.
Bids were opened in September 2004 to construct the Aurora-Lawrenceburg Trail but the bids that came in were too high. 9 10 Design architects Green3 were paid $30,000 to redesign the project, cutting out amenities and a portion of the trail from Manchester Landing to Lesko Park along Indiana Route 56.
Construction of the Trail began on July 5, 2005, with a groundbreaking ceremony held on July 6. 9 A construction contract for $1.47 million was awarded to Beaty Construction, 8 9 most of which went toward constructing a new bridge over Wilson Creek. 8 The project was funded by $1 million in Transportation Enhancement Activity funds and a $480,000 Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act grant. 9 Both required a 20% local match which was met by right-of-way donations. It also received $9,000 and $200,000 in grants from the Dearborn County Convention, Visitors & Tourism Grant Program.
By September 2006, much of the trail between Lawrenceburg and Aurora had been completed except for the terminuses. 8 The eastern terminus at Lawrenceburg was finished later in the year while the terminus at Lesko Park in Aurora was delayed until a walkway on the south side of the George Street Bridge was completed in 2010.
- Jakucyk, Jeffrey B. “New York Central/Big Four, CIND Subdivision – Indiana & Ohio, CIND Subdivision.” Cincinnati Traction History, 2022.
- Vandervoort, Bill. “Abandoned Railroads.” Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site.
- “Big Four Now Owns Short Railroad Line Near Aurora.” Tribune [Seymour], 16 Dec. 2013.
- “Railroad to be Sold December 15.” Richmond Item [Richmond], 17 Oct. 1913.
- “Indiana Railroad Abandonments.” Indiana Department of Transportation.
- Mattingly, Chandra L. “Old railroad bed could be used for hiking trail.” Journal-Press [Lawrenceburg], 10 Oct. 1995, p. 3A.
- Mattingly, Chandra L. “Aurora-L’burg Trail may cross bridge.” Dearborn County Register [Lawrenceburg], 14 Oct. 1999, p. 3A.
- Mattingly, Chandra L. “Walking trail impresses, but additional work remains.” Journal Press [Lawrenceburg], 19 Sept. 2006, pp. 1A-10A.
- Mattingly, Chandra L. “10 years from MUD brothers to ground breaking July 6.” Dearborn County Register [Lawrenceburg], 30 Jun. 2005, p. 3A.
- Mattingly, Chandra L. “Cut items restored to hiking/biking trail budget thanks to $75,000 foundation grant.” Journal Press [Lawrenceburg], 18 Jan. 2005, p. 3A.