Walking to Hollywood!

2024.05 Victor Walking to Hollywood2 450

by Bill Brown

You meet a lot of interesting people along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, but this encounter was more interesting than usual.

A young man stopped to chat with FLMSP's Far South Maintenance crew near Terrace Park and it was clear he was not from around here. Victor was from Paris, France, and was eager to polish his English-speaking skills. He asked several questions about who we were and what we were doing working on the trail. As we explained the Friends of the Little Miami State Park volunteer organization to him, Victor became very enthusiastic in expressing his thanks for keeping such a beautiful trail maintained. He had been hiking from Xenia and mentioned all the kind people he met on the trail who helped him find places to sleep, eat and shop.

Then the conversation turned to him as we asked about his story. Victor is an actor in France but had bigger plans to advance his career. Where does an actor go to get "found"? Hollywood, of course! The flight from Paris to Los Angeles is very expensive and he had a different plan in mind that started with a much cheaper flight to New York City. From there, he began walking west. This stroll across the United States was not just intended to save money. Victor felt he needed to learn a less formal "American English" and get a closer look at the people and places in this country before he pursued his career in California. By the time we finished talking, his formal "thank you sir" had become "thanks guys". He said he wanted to see the country and experience the towns and people in a very personal way. Victor was a very charming and compelling personality and there was little doubt that he had a shot at making it in Hollywood!

If you see a young French actor named Victor in American film or TV in the next few years, remember the Little Miami State Park helped form his image of the heartland of America and the people.

Photo by Bill Brown

May 2024

Safe Trails: Turn, Turn, Turn

U TurnSeveral years ago, I was traveling in my car behind an elderly driver who was driving very slowly in the left lane of a four-lane road. I waited patiently until the driver moved into the right lane and I began to accelerate to pass. To my utter surprise, the driver began to make a U turn right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and my tires squealed as I stopped ever so close to the driver’s side door. I expected to see the driver display a frightened and apologetic expression, but instead, the driver simply completed the U turn without even realizing I was there!

I recently rode my bicycle on the Little Miami Scenic Trail. As I headed north across the new O’Bannon Creek bridge near Loveland, I encountered a couple also on bikes. Just as I called out “on your left” to pass, one of the two riders made a U turn in front of me and fell when he failed to negotiate the turn. He received a bloody arm and leg and ended up on his knees. If I hadn’t been there to help, he would have had a very difficult time getting to his feet.

Clearly, the seemingly simple act of turning around bears risks and should be done with care. Here are three tips for U turn safety.

  • No matter your mode (bicycling, walking, running, etc.), check carefully (look and listen) for other trail users before turning around.
  • Expect other trail users to turn around unexpectedly and be prepared to react.
  • Dismount your bicycle, turn around (after ensuring the coast is clear), and then remount.


For everything, there is a season. The season to enjoy the Little Miami Scenic Trail has arrived. Turn, turn, turn.


by Erick Wikum

May 2024

Rail to Trail to Rail

Rails 2 sq

by Rick Forrester

On a balmy February morning, the Thursday Fosters FLMSP volunteers were out in force beautifying the Morrow section of trail, clearing weeds from a stop sign in Loveland, and cutting honeysuckle near the Lebanon spur.  While cutting the invasive shrub, Rick Forrester’s chainsaw chain struck sparks from an object buried just below the berm surface .

The sustained efforts of the crew uncovered a piece of history buried decades ago.  After some digging by Jim, then comical attempts by the crew to move the artifact by brute force, followed by a lengthy debate about how best to bring the object out of the berm, the crew attached a metal chain to Rick’s pickup and, lo and behold, extracted a length of railroad rail!  Trail crews have uncovered many railroad items over the years including spikes, j-hooks, tie plates, wooden ties, anchor bolts, signal towers, and even artifacts of totally mysterious purpose, but this rail was a first.

rail diagramA few facts about our Little Miami railroad and its rails:

  • Rails typically weigh 138 pounds per yard.  No wonder it took a truck to move it!  We joke about being on the chain gang with all the work we do, but this is a whole ’nother level!

  • Standard length American rails are six tenths of a “chain length” long.  An old English surveying term still used today, a “chain” is exactly 22 yards.  The standard rail is therefore 39.6 feet long.   Also, the Little Miami State Park is one “chain length” wide (railroad right of way), or 66 feet for most of its 50 miles.

  • A rail car wheel contacts the rail in an area roughly the size of one dime as it travels along the track.

  • Rails are made with their destination in mind. They are forged and then stretched or warmed to have a “neutral temperature,” meaning a rail that is free of thermal stress based on the expected temperature range of the specific environment where it will be installed.  I wonder what the Little Miami temperatures were in the 1830s and 1840s?

  • The clickety-clack you heard when riding on a train was caused by the joints where rails were bolted together with a “fishplate.”  Most rails now are fused together to prevent wear of the wheels, reduce vibration, and reduce maintenance costs.

  • The Little Miami Railroad was incorporated in March 1836 with the Honorable Jeremiah Morrow as its first President, who was also Governor of Ohio.  Track laying began in 1837 and was completed in Xenia in 1846—a distance of 84 miles.   Our Park comprises 50 miles of the original rail line.

  • The last train company to run commercial passengers on the Little Miami line was the Miami/Penn Central Railroad in 1968.  The last train ran on the tracks in 1974 (read about it here).

  • Little Miami Inc. (now Little Miami Conservancy) was instrumental in saving the railroad right of way.  Their office is located along the trail in Nisbet Park in Loveland.  Stop by and visit their exhibits for more historical tidbits!

  • In 1983, the Us Congress adopted the Rails to Trails Act allocating $5,000,000 to convert abandoned railroad lines to multi-purpose recreation trails across the country.  There are 399 rails-to-trails encompassing over 2, 300 miles throughout the United States. Visit https://www.railstotrails.org for information on where to find them.

  • Rails 3 cropAfter purchasing the right of way, ODNR allowed Penn Central Railroad (which was in bankruptcy) to salvage the abandoned rails which were worth approximately $2,150,000 as scrap metal.  The artifact we unearthed is one they missed.

Take a trip up to the Lebanon spur to see the historical rail!

Photo right: The rail unearthed using log levers and cleaned up


March 2024

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