The Ludlow Incinerator Is a Blast from the Past

For 28 years, it burned Ludlow’s trash.
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Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Although easily mistaken as part of Devou Park, the Ludlow Incinerator sits just outside Devou’s northwestern edge. The city of Ludlow owns the land on which it sits, but this wasn’t always the case. In 1931, Ludlow’s city council agreed to fund the construction of an incinerator to combat increasing garbage production, but the proposed site was located on Covington-owned land. Against Covington residents’ opposition, “the court ruled that [Ludlow] could actually purchase property in another city and build an incinerator,” says Dave Schroeder, executive director of the Kenton County Public Library. Following its construction, Ludlow annexed the land and has owned it ever since. In 1959, after 28 years of torching its trash, the city transitioned to landfills and abandoned the incinerator, citing its poor condition and crumbling roof. All that’s left of the roof today is its metal frame. Decades-old layers of graffiti and unruly foliage cover the brick structure and neighboring smokestack. It’s equal parts serene and creepy—even at 2 p.m. on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Schroeder says it’s a “rite of passage” for Ludlow residents: “When I was a kid, we used to go back there and explore. It was part of every kid’s upbringing in Ludlow.”

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