Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Kelly, Nick Kelly
Expedition Date: September 18, 2016
Many of you have taken this tour offered by Queen City Underground Tours. The Gateway District used to have 130 saloons, bars, beer gardens and theaters. Under Over-The-Rhine, newly discovered tunnels vital to Cincinnati’s brewing heritage have revealed traces of late 1800’s activity. This underground brewery was important since Cincinnatian’s doubled the national average for beer consumption during pre-prohibition times.
Our group entered an old building named The Guild Haus, the former John Kauffman Brewery Building. The Kauffman Brewery, once the fourth largest in the nation, was in operation until the early 1900’s. When Kauffman stopped storing beer in the cold tunnels due to the invention of electric refrigeration, the floor of the basement was cemented over sealing the tunnels.
During building renovation in the 1990’s, blueprints revealed something underground. The concrete was jack hammered revealing the former brewery tunnels and chambers filled with artifacts from the past.
We carefully walked down a tight, steep, wooden set of stairs. The dimly lighted tunnels below were hand dug in the 1860’s. The temperature in the tunnels were a constant 55 degrees year round. A few old pipes with huge spider webs hung overhead among the brick ceiling. Some artifacts found in the tunnels (bottles, jars, shoes) were displayed on wooden planks. In one tunnel I poked around a pile of dirt and found remains of a 100 year old shoe and an old bottle. This adventure definitely gave us a good look at the past. It also gave us a thirst. We quenched it at the Rhinegeist Brewery with a good cold brewski.