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

Safe Trails: Tune Up Your Bicycle

inspecting bike

The Little Miami Scenic Trail is about to get a lot busier as people come out of hibernation to greet the warming temperatures. Now is an ideal time to ensure your bicycle is ready for the season. To begin, inspect the following:

1. Wheels and tires: Spokes are connected and uniformly tensioned. Tires have remaining wear, with no visible damage to the tread or sidewalls. The tires are properly inflated.
2. Brakes: Front and rear brakes apply smoothly and engage fully.
3. Chain: Chain is well lubricated and shifts smoothly through all gears.
4. Frame, fork, and seat: Bicycle overall is structurally intact with no visible cracks or rust. Parts are firmly attached to the frame.
5. Helmet: Helmet is intact with no cosmetic or other damage. The chin strap fastens tightly. Helmet age is less than 3 (or perhaps 5) years.

Depending on your level of familiarity with bicycle maintenance, you may be able to address one or more of these items (e.g., inflating tires, changing tires and tubes, or lubing or changing the chain) yourself. Your local bike shop stands ready to conduct a tune-up and to address any specific needs.

A few years ago, I brought my bike into a local shop, requesting specific maintenance based on my own inspection. The shop mechanic discovered a crack in the frame that was not evident from a visual inspection, which led me to purchase a new bike. The solution was considerably more expensive than I expected, but I avoided a potential catastrophe.

Now’s the time. Inspect your bicycle today and be ready to enjoy the Little Miami Scenic Trail safely.

by Erick Wikum
March 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

Trailside Stop: Mel Hensey Nature Preserve

Hensey sign

by Bill Schroeder

About 10 years ago, Little Miami Conservancy began a property rescue intervention aimed at restoring a small but badly abused riverside property. Sadly, describing this property as neglected would be an understatement. Pictures below show shocking neglect and ruination of a place that should have been one of the prettiest on the river. Not only was the riverbank trashed with garbage and junk, but there was also a potential for pollution and a likelihood that the shack there would soon collapse and fall into the scenic river, causing even more ruination.
Hensey before3Hensey before2
Joining forces with Warren County Building and Zoning Department, Warren County Prosecutors, local financial institutions, donors, and dedicated cleanup volunteers, the Little Miami Conservancy was able to negotiate an agreement to acquire ownership of this abused property, and rehabilitate it back to life, addressing environmental issues, zoning violations, safety hazards, building demolition and restoration of the land for public enjoyment. Located across the river and a half-mile upstream from the Morgan Family Campground, the property is now known as the Mel Hensey Nature Preserve. It is a beautiful trailside rest stop for hikers and bikers, and other trail users, featuring a great view of the river, a pollinator garden, interpretative signage, and park bench for rest and relaxation with a great view of the River. Since its dedication in 2014 the Mel Hensey Nature Preserve has become a popular rest stop for trail users, featuring a pollinator garden, bees, birds, deer and other wildlife that also live in the river corridor, and are a part of its ecosystem. Many thanks to all who helped make it so, and especially for the Morgan family continuing to keep it beautiful.
Hensey Cleanup Volunteers 2014Cleanup Volunteers, 2014

Photos Below: Cleanup volunteers pull old truck from river; Hensey family at Preserve dedication; view from the riverbank; Hensey Nature Preserve beauty.
Hensey removal of truck from riverHensey family Preserve Dedication 2014Hensey view from riverbankHensey Preserve flowers 600

January 2024

Our Partners

120 ODNR logo

OTETrail 115

Tri StateTrails logo150x52greene county parks sm 


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