Lebanon’s Swinging Bridge Has a Sweet Connection to Cincinnati’s Ice Cream History

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Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Behind Lebanon’s New Street post office and the Lebanon Academy Schoolhouse (now a food pantry) sits an unassuming public park. Venture beyond the grassy area with a picnic shelter and a few grills, down a sloped mulch trail tucked amid foliage to uncover scenic treasures. A 100-foot-long cable-suspended wooden footbridge connects the south and west ends of Colonial Park over the French Run ravine, where water in the shallow creek below empties into nearby Turtle Creek. The land surrounding the brook can be traced back to French-Bauer dairy farm, which became operational in Lebanon after moving from Oakley in 1898. The company, founded in 1842 by English immigrant Thomas Joseph French, pioneered wholesale retail dairy, putting Cincinnati on the national map with soda fountain fans. The City of Lebanon purchased the site in 1967. To commemorate the bicentennial, says John Zimkus, historian and educational director of the Warren County Historical Society, the parks department debuted Colonial Park and its swinging bridge on July 4, 1976. But since a baseball diamond was built on the other end in 1999, folks of a certain age mostly recall making the shaky trek to play ball.

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