Photo of C.B. Kern THE CARL B. KERN FUND
of The Dayton Foundation

established 1987

1401 S. Main Street, Suite 100  *  Dayton, OH 45409
(937) 222-0410  * * *  FAX: (937) 222-0636

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Taking the Train to Camp
updated October 6, 2022

        A July 1st, 1912 Dayton Daily News article with a headline of "Special Traction Car" reports that "At 8 o'clock Tuesday morning the D. L. & C. will carry a party of 30 boys, members of the boys' department of the Y.M.C.A., all bound for Camp Ozone, near Fort Ancient. They will be under the leadership of C.B. Kern and F.H. Zeller, respectively, boys' work secretary and physical director of the Y.M.C.A." [clipping]. The Dayton, Lebanon & Cincinnati Railroad Company was only 2 years old at the time, beginning service in March, 1910. [clipping].

        When the Dayton Y.M.C.A. purchased the land for Camp Ozone in March, 1914, a newspaper article noted that the location was accessible by two trains - "the Pennsylvania railroad, via Xenia and Ft. Ancient ... or by D.,L. & C. to Lebanon, and a tramp of six miles" [clipping].

        Richard Schwartz was a camper at Camp Ozone beginning in 1914 and described his trip to camp in a 7-page typewritten [document]:

"The morning of the big day of departure, we met at the railroad station near Fifth and Ludlow Streets. It was almost as unusual for a young boy to board a train with a coal fired locomotive in that day as it is today. Instead of using autos, however, which were not common in those days, we usually stayed home! The train ride was glamorous -- it was only my second ride on a railroad. After a couple of hours or so we arrived at Lebanon. The only transportation available from Lebanon to Fort Ancient was the overladen and overworked Camp truck. This meant that we campers had to hike the seven miles to camp. "

        Bob Skinner was a camper in the late 1910's when he took the train to camp. He described his experience in a June 18, 1984 letter:

"On our first day we met at the RR station of the Dayton Lebanon Cincinnati RR which was located on Brown St just north of Frank Z's Chevrolet parking lot at 8 AM to go to Lebanon. I remember this train so vividly as we were waiting for it to depart; four of we boys were throwing an orange around, one of the boys missed and the orange went through the passenger car window. We pulled the shade down so the conductor would not find out about it.... We were met in Lebanon by a truck from camp that took our belongings to the Community House at Camp Kern. All of the campers and accompanying leaders proceeded to walk the eight miles from Lebanon to Camp Kern." [letter]

        And in 1920, a 13-year-old submitted a 'Vacation Story' to the Dayton Daily News, describing his travel to and from Camp Kern:

"On Wednesday in the middle of July we went down to the railroad station and waited for the train. The train took us to Lebanon, O., and from there we had to hike to Fort Ancient... The man we were with walked us four miles to a schoolhouse where we stopped and ate supper. We then hiked on to camp.... When it came time to come home there were a lot of sorry faces among us. We then started out and hiked back to Lebanon, where we spent an hour or so in eating dopes and soda. Then the train came and we had to get on and come home. We got into Dayton at 8 o'clock in the evening" [clipping].

        By 1921, a "large automobile truck" was being used to take boys from the Y.M.C.A. to camp. [clipping1] [clipping2] [clipping3]

        Passenger service from Dayton to Lebanon was discontinued in March, 1928. [clipping]. Freight traffic using this line continued for a few more decades but ceased by the 1950's. Sections of the abandoned railway have been converted to trails. The railroad path can be seen [here].