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Tower Park

Tower Park


Tower Park

  • 86.6 Acres
  • Armory Gymnasium and Recreation Center
  • 3 Sheltered Picnic Areas
  • Restroom Facilities
  • Walking/Biking Trails- TRAIL MAP
  • 6 Tennis Courts
  • Playground Equipment
  • Lighted Baseball/Softball Field
  • Sand Volleyball Court
  • 2 Outdoor Basketball Courts
  • Amphitheater


Tower Park Shelter 1

Reservations Required
911 Cochran Avenue

  • Located by the main playground and restroom facility
  • Covered shelter for 75 people
  • 8 picnic tables
  • Grill
  • Electric

Reservation Fees:

  • Monday – Thursday- $25.00/per day
  • Friday – Sunday – $75.00/per day

Call 859-781-1700 to reserve


Tower Park Shelter 2

Reservation Required
970 Cochran Avenue

  • Located by the Tennis Courts
  • Covered shelter for 75 People
  • 8 picnic tables
  • Grill
  • Electric

Reservation Fees:

  • Monday – Thursday- $25.00/per day
  • Friday – Sunday- $50.00/ per day

Call 859-781-1700 to reserve


Tower Park Shelter 3

Reservation Required
980 Cochran Avenue
Located by the basketball courts

  • Small play area
  • Covered shelter for 50 people
  • 5 picnic tables
  • Grill

Reservation Fees:

  • Monday – Thursday- $25.00/ per day
  • Friday – Sunday- $35.00

Call 859-781-1700 to reserve


City Administrative Offices Temporarily Moving

Fort Thomas City Offices – Temporary Relocation

The City of Fort Thomas Administration offices, including City Administrator, City Clerk, Finance office, General Services (office personnel only) and Economic Development Director will be located at the Armory Building (960 S. Fort Thomas Ave) beginning  Monday January 4, 2021.

The offices are situated on the first floor and access will be from the entry located in Tower Park.
Important items to note:

            Mailing address for all city business will continue to be: 130 N. Ft. Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, KY 41075

            Business phone will remain (859) 441-1055

            Hours of Operation will remain:  8:00 am – 4:30 pm  Monday – Friday

Access for business during COVID is limited to lobby drop-off/pickup unless appointment scheduled in advance.

There will be no business conducted on location at city building EXCEPT Police Department or Fire Department through their regular contact protocols.

Council Meetings, City Boards & Commissions and all other city public meetings will be held at the Community Center/Mess Hall located in Tower Park. Check city website for calendar of meetings.

This temporary relocation is necessary to permit the renovation of the offices at the city building and will tentatively last through the calendar year of 2021.

We appreciate your patience and understanding through this period of time. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact the city clerk at 441-1055.

Christmas Tree Drop off/Pick up Info.

Residents can drop Christmas trees off by the daycare building in Tower Park or city crews will be picking them up at the curb on Wednesday, January 6th and Wednesday, January 13th. Please be sure to have them out to the curb on these days prior to 7:00 a.m.

Please do not place in plastic bags.

Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks

Join us for our Independence Day Celebration from 3 to 10 p.m. in Tower Park.  Enjoy shopping, food, drinks, kids activities and music.

Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m.

4th of July Parade

Please join us for the 4th of July Parade on July 4, 2021.  The parade will start at Highlands High School and run to Tower Park.


The 4th of July Parade, celebration in Tower Park and the fireworks have been cancelled.  Due to the restrictions on gatherings, we were positioned to have to cancel.  The city is continuing to consider other events that could be offered to the community throughout the summer.

Please refrain from walking in the area of Alexander Circle/V.A. Homes.  This is a construction site and is dangerous to walkers.  We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Sanitation District No. 1 and Northern KY. Water District will be replacing the sanitary and storm sewers on Waterworks Road.  Please note that there will be road closures and delays over the next year to 18 months.  We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.



Open Gym:
The gym is open-Reservation only Tuesdays and Thursdays. 4p-8p
Call 859-781-1700 to reserve. Full court reservations only.

Mondays and Wednesdays 6:00 pm-7:00 pm in the Armory. $2.00 per class.

*All dates and Times are subject to change/cancel/or reschedule without notice.

Recreation News

Recreation Events

Fort Thomas Recreation Department
Fort Thomas Recreation Department2 weeks ago

The gym will be open:
for walkers 8a-3p
by reservation ONLY Tuesday and Thursday 4p-8p
Masks must be worn when entering and exiting the building.

Fort Thomas Recreation Department
Fort Thomas Recreation Department1 month ago

Come see us tomorrow when you drop off your letter to Santa! Pick up a wooden ornament, make sure to tag us after you decorate it and hang it on your tree!

Fort Thomas Recreation Department
Fort Thomas Recreation Department1 month ago

Come see us on Saturday! We will be handing out wooden ornaments for your family to decorate!

Fort Thomas Recreation Department
Fort Thomas Recreation Department2 months ago

Check it out! We love these old pics. The Mess Hall has changed so much, but is still the same.

Farmers Market opening June 3rd

The Fort Thomas Farmers Market will be held on Wednesdays, June 3 through October 30th, 3 to 7 p.m. Tower Park Tennis Courts Parking Lot

Send Only 1 Person into Market
No Pets Allowed
Keep 6-Feet Between People
Do Not Touch Surfaces
Don’t Overstock
Use Hand Sanitizer and Wash Stations As Needed
Please Don’t Linger

Battery Row Productions Presents: A Historic Walking Tour of Fort Thomas Kentucky

Discover how a military barracks, bare-knuckle boxing ring, the gruesome murder of a pregnant woman, and a local pub contribute to the rich historical heritage of the City of Fort Thomas.
The Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum has worked for more than a year with Battery Row Productions to create this walking tour–a tour which is much more than just physically walking. It’s done with smart phones and QR codes or on computers. You will see ten signs throughout Tower Park and the Historic Midway with short explanations of special sites. On each of those signs are also QR codes which will link to further explanations on our website. If you do not have a smart phone, you’ll be able to look up the site and see the entire collection as well as interviews with our local historians, including Gloria Sisk, Linda Rankin, Erik Geiman, Scott Froendhoff, and Betty Daniels. Dozens of historic photos have been included.
We hope you’ll spend time learning more about our much loved City!

Click Here for Link


Recreation Calendar of Events

October 11th: Outdoor Movie Night 730pm Tower Park Amphitheater

October 4th-5th: Annual Tower Park Camp Out

October 11th: Storytime in the park presented by the Campbell County Library –  Amphitheater

October 11th– FREE PLAY FRIDAYS @ the Armory Ages walking—4yrs. Every Friday at 10am! Cost 5.00 a child

October 23rd: Pizza & Pumpkin Party– pizza, pumpkins, and carving tools will be provided by Ft. Thomas Recreation! Creativity provided by you! Come and carve a pumpkin to be placed on our Pumpkin Walk. Participants under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Please register by calling 859-781-1700

October 25th : Pumpkin Walk 6-9pm: Join us at Tower Park for this fun event. Carve your own unique pumpkin to be entered in our contest.  If you are a student or organization looking for service hours please contact our office on how you can earn hours by carving pumpkins!

November 24th: Preschool EXPO – brought to you by the Ft Thomas Moms  Club and Ft. Rec. Come and explore all our area has to offer your  preschooler!

Military Museum

Military Museum

Effective January 2021:  The Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum will be closed until the Spring of 2021.  

The Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum located at 940 Cochran Avenue in Tower Park is now open Thursday through Saturday noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.  We also open the museum to visitors upon request by appointment only with at least 48 hours notice. For more information call: 859-815-8481 or 859-572-1225.  The email address for the museum is

Look who made it into “Kentucky Monthly Magazine”!  Fort Thomas Museum did!

Click here for article

Click here for the Spring edition of the Front Porch Command Newsletter

New Exhibits for 2018

On the anniversaries of the Spanish-American War, World War I and the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, our Military Room focuses on these events and their significance to Fort Thomas.

Last year’s Sesquicentennial sparked a nostalgic interest in old photos of people and places, so we have turned two rooms upstairs into galleries.  Several “Then and Now” photos of locations here in town in the front room will likely bring back a few memories for long-time residents, but also demonstrate how some things aren’t really that different at all even after nearly 100 years.  WE also took the opportunity to showcase some fashion from the 1950’s that look as wonderful today as they did when they were first worn. The back room houses over 40 photographs from the fort itself, many from at least a century ago.


“Mysteries at the Museum”
“The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire”

A few months ago producers of The Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum spent 12 hours filming at the Museum. They were interested in our Beverly Hills Supper Club Exhibit and Gloria Sisk, our assistant director, did much of the talking. The cameras used a lot of film on our displays while voices explained the role Fort Thomas played in the tragedy.

The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire story will be airing in the 9th episode of the third season of Mysteries at the Museum, which premieres at 9:00 pm on Thursday, February 7th on The Travel Channel.

Upcoming episode guide at

I hope EVERYONE gets a opportunity to watch!

“Beverly Hills: Showplace of the Nation”
Created by NKU Masters in Public History Class
Dr. Brian Hackett, Professor
Exhibit open Tuesday through Sunday noon to 4:00 pm
940 Cochran Avenue (formerly 69 Greene Street)
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
(859)572-1225 or (859)815-8481

Watch Channel 19 Interview Here!

Bev Hills 1 Bev Hills 2 Bev Hills 3 Bev Hills 4 Bev Hills 5 Bev Hills 6




If you have a question or suggestion to list here, contact the Webmaster at


When are the regular Council meetings and where are they held?

3rd Monday of each month at 7:00 P.M. except in the months of June and September where they will meet on the 1st and 3rd Mondays, in the Council Chamber on the 2nd Floor of the City Building. If a State or Federal holiday falls on a Monday, then the council meeting will be held on Tuesday.

What are the normal office hours for the city building?

The City of Fort Thomas Administrative offices are open Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. During the month of October the Finance Department is open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until noon to allow for the payment of property taxes.

What is the procedure for attending a Council meeting and speaking to them about a problem, suggestion, or complaint?

Call the Clerk’s Office to get your name and address placed on the agenda. The Mayor will call on you when it is time to speak. There is a time near the beginning of the Council meeting where anyone may bring items to the attention of Council. However, it is helpful to know ahead of time who will be at the meeting to allow for preliminary study of the issue.

Any citizen of Fort Thomas may speak during the time on the Council agenda where the Mayor calls for “any issue or problem that any citizen would like to bring to Council’s attention.” There are circumstances when someone who is not a citizen would request to speak. For example, a visitor from another city, county, or state government, or from a regional or local agency (examples: from Campbell County Fiscal Court, from the Chamber of Commerce or United Way). They may need to bring information, to make a request of the Council as a whole, or be present in response to a question or request of Council. Any issue that are specific, of a personal or individual matter, or involve sales materials are referred to the City staff. Any issues that Council needs to investigate further before making a decision are referred to one of six Council Standing Committees. The Mayor sets an informal time limit of 10 minutes for any one speaker and there is a requirement that any group larger than 5 wishing to speak on an issue should name a spokesperson to communicate for the group.

What is the best way to make an appointment with the Mayor, or City Administrator, or Councilmember?

Call (859) 572-1202, and the city clerk will assist you in setting an appointment.

How can I get a copy of a City Ordinance?

Call the City Clerk Office at (859) 572-1202 to request a copy of ordinances that have been adopted by the Board of Council. You may be required to complete an Open Records Request form and pay a minimal copy fee. City ordinances can also be found on the internet at:

How do I apply for employment with the City?

If in response to an advertisement, bring or mail the required information to the City Offices,130 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, KY 41075. If the City has not advertised a job opening, you may fill out a general application, designate your qualifications, attach a resume and your information and it will be held on file for one year. Click Here for Application

How do I apply for Civil Service testing for positions of Police Officer or Firefighter/Paramedic?

The City holds annual tests for these positions. Contact the Clerk’s Office at (859) 572-1202 for testing dates and to receive an application form. Eligibility lists are good for one year from the date of the test. Positions are filled from eligibility lists.

Where can I pay a City Citation (ticket)?

If you were issued a “City citation” ticket, it can be paid via mail or in person. If paying by mail, put the payment into the envelope provided, seal and mail. To pay in person, bring citation and payment to the City Building Finance Office during regular business hours.

How do I obtain an occupational license?

The Campbell County Fiscal Court, located at 1010 Monmouth Street in Newport, issues all city occupational and payroll licenses. For more information call 859-292-3884.

How do I get a replacement recycling bin?

Replacement recycling bins can be obtained from Rumpke by calling 1-877-786-7537.

What is the date and time for Trick or Treat and how is this decided?

Council makes the decision, usually in August, based on which day of the week October 31 falls on. The dates selected by surrounding communities may also be considered. Over the past several years, Trick or Treat has been scheduled on the 31st. The date will be posted in the “NEWS” sections of this web site.

When is the 4th of July parade and what is the theme this year?

The Parade begins at Highlands High School at 10:30 A.M. and rolls south on Fort Thomas Avenue to Tower Park. The theme and the Grand Marshal are chosen by Committee.

How do I get a 4th of July Parade Permit?

The City of Fort Thomas can be contacted for information and forms for the parade. 859-441-1055.

The Campbell County Y.M.C.A. also sponsors and coordinates the Firecracker 5000 Run and Children’s Run held early in the morning before the parade. Please contact them at 859-781-1814.

Are there other events and fireworks for the 4th of July?

The city holds an Independence Celebration at Tower Park for families and kids of all ages!  The Independence Celebration consists of a classic car show, music, food and drinks. Please make sure to check the website for that year’s date of the celebration.

What is the procedure for having a Block Party?

Call (859) 572-1202 and the City Clerk can email, fax or mail you a form or you can CLICK HERE to print. The City asks that you complete the form with signatures of those residents whose homes will be blocked off, with the street location, date and hours of the Block Party and return it to the city clerk. Copies of this form are given to both the Police and Fire Departments so they will be aware of the block party if an emergency occurs.

Can I get a permit to hang a banner across a city street?

No. This practice has been discontinued.

Where can I get a vendors license?

The issuance of vendors licenses is handled by Campbell County Fiscal Court. Call 859-292-3884 for more information.

How many times can you have a yard sale within a year and do I need a permit?

There is an informal limit of 3 garage or yard sales that a citizen may have at their home during a year. The City’s General Services Department issues these permits at no charge in order to regulate the number and to make the Police Department aware of any possible extra traffic, signs, etc. that could occur as a result of the sale.

During the week of a holiday, when will trash collection be made?

Our waste collector does not pick up trash on January 1st or December 25th. If your normal waste collection day falls on one of these days, it will be collected the following day.

When can trash and recycling be set out?

The City’s Ordinance regulating waste collection and recycling requires that items be placed at the curb no earlier than 5:00 P.M. the evening before collection day and that empty containers be removed on the day of collection.

Can we set out large items for trash collection?

Bulk items may be set out with your regular weekly trash collection. The following guidelines must be followed when setting out large items:

Any bulk items that may contain freon (such as air conditioners or refrigerators) must be serviced by a CFC/HCFC removal technician before the waste collector can pick it up. Many heating and air conditioning service companies can provide this service. Additionally, a form certifying that the freon has been removed must be affixed to the item. This form can be found on our website at: or by visiting the City Building.
Brush will be removed only when bundled. Bundles must be no larger than 5′ long and no more than 18″ in diameter.
Carpet will be removed only when placed in 5′ x 18″ diameter rolls. The rolls should be tightly tied or taped.
Large items that will not be picked up include major automobile or truck parts such as engines, hoods, and transmissions. Construction debris, barrels and drums are not acceptable for curbside pickup.

Paint – how do I dispose of paint?

Our waste collector will not accept paint that is still in liquid form. Dry out liquid paint by removing the lid and letting the paint harden completely. Paint can also be dried by mixing sand or kitty litter into the can, then expose the can to the open air until it is completely dried out (this may take several weeks). Keep the can out of reach of children, animals and heat sources and take precautions to prevent spillage.

What are the rules on Election Signs?


Election signs are permitted to be placed on private property, subject to the following conditions:

1. Where signs are otherwise permitted, an election sign may be erected no sooner than sixty (60) days before the election and the sign shall be removed within ten (10) days following the election to which it applies; the owner of the property on which the sign is placed shall be responsible for its removal.

2. Election signs may not be erected or placed on public property, or on rocks, trees, public fences, sign posts, light poles, or utility poles on public property.


1. Temporary signs announcing or relating to a campaign, drive or event of a civic, philanthropic, educational or religious organization are allowed without a permit. One (1) is allowed per lot and shall not exceed twelve (12) square feet, double faced. These signs shall be removed withing forty-eight (48) hours of the conclusion of the event for which they relate.

Fort Thomas History

Fort Thomas History




GenThosThe City of Fort Thomas was named in honor of Civil War General George Henry Thomas, who ranks among the top Union Generals of the War, along with Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. Whereas these three men were true Northerners and, in fact, were born within approximately 50 miles of each other and from Northern Kentucky, George Thomas was a Southerner. He was born of Welsh/English and French parents in Virginia on July 31, 1816. He was educated at Southampton Academy, studying law and working as a law deputy for his uncle, James Rochelle, the Clerk of the County Court, and he received an appointment to West Point in 1836. He graduated 12th in his class of 42 in 1840 and William T. Sherman was a classmate.

After receiving his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery Unit, he served the Army well for the next 30 years. He was made 1st Lieutenant for action against the Indians in Florida for his gallantry in action. In the Mexican War, he served under Braxton Bragg in the Artillery and was twice cited for gallantry—once at Monterey and the other at Buena Vista. From 1851-1854 was an instructor of artillery and cavalry at West Point, where he was promoted to Captain. Following his service at FortYuma in the West, he became a Major and joined the 2nd Cavalry at Jefferson Barracks. The Colonel there was Albert Sidney Johnston and Robert E. Lee was the Lt. Colonel. Other officers in this regiment who were to become famous as Generals were George Stoneman, for the Union, and for the CSA, John B. Hood, Kirby Smith, and Fitzhugh Lee. In 1860 while on patrol with the 2nd Cavalry in Texas, Thomas was wounded by an arrow during a skirmish with Comanches.

As the Civil War broke out, he was on a 12-month leave of absence in the East. Although a Southerner by birth, Thomas chose to cast his lot with the Union. In a meteoric rise in rank, he was made Lt. Colonel in April, 1861, full Colonel in May, 1861, and on August 17 of the same year, he was made Brigadier General and was given the command of all volunteers assigned to Kentucky. On January 19, 1862, his troops won the first true victory for Kentucky at Mill Springs, defeating the Confederates under General Zollicoffer, who was killed. His troops then joined Buell’s forces and fought at Nashville and Pittsburgh Landing, where in April, 1862, he was made a Major General. His command was of all Volunteers and he commanded the right wing of Halleck’s Army in the capture of Corinth. Again, he was reassigned to Buell’s Army in Kentucky. Dissatisfaction of the higher-ups with Buell’s retreat to Louisville caused them to order Thomas to take over Buell’s command, but he declined due to his loyalty. He then served as Buell’s second-in-command in the important Battle of Perryville.

Soon after this, General Rosecrans replaced Buell and General Thomas served under him with great respect and loyalty. On September 20, 1863, he showed his real battle genius and earned for himself the accolade for which he will forever be known. General Rosecrans, in an effort to cut off Bragg at Chickamauga, in Tennessee, overextended his troops. General Thomas held the left or northern flank and Bragg, reinforced by Longstreet attacked the Union forces on the 19th of September, cutting the supply lines to Chattanooga. Neither side budged. On the 20th, Bragg, finding a hole in the Union lines on the right, poured through and swept the right center of the Union forces all the way to Chattanooga, but General Thomas—on the left—held firm. His lines were bent horseshoe-shaped but did not break. He held from noon until dark and then withdrew, bloodied but unbeaten. This action earned him the nickname or title of “The Rock of Chickamauga.” In addition, he received the permanent rank of Brigadier General.

Two months later, he took command of the Army of the Cumberland with an attack on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and sent the enemy, under Bragg, reeling. In May, 1864, Gen. Sherman began his march on Atlanta, and was joined by Gen. Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland. They pushed aside all opposition, beat Hood at Peachtree Creek, and received the surrender of Atlanta, being the first troops to enter the city. While Sherman continued his march through Georgia to the sea, Thomas was ordered to Nashville to organize an army to oppose Hood so he could not attack Sherman from the rear. He began to plan his strategy and get his new troops ready. It was his cavalry under General Wilson that prevented Hood from making a rear guard action or stand. The “Rock of Chickamauga” then became the “Hammer of Nashville.” This was called, by many, the Union’s victory of victories. It was the only major battle in the entire Civil War in which an army was destroyed. For his action, Gen. Thomas was promoted to Major General and received the thanks of Congress.

After the War, General George H. Thomas served as commander of a number of military districts. By 1869, he had assumed command of the Military Division of the Pacific at San Francisco and he died on March 28, 1870, leaving his widow, Frances Kellogg Thomas. They were married in November, 1852, while he was an instructor at West Point and had no children. He was buried at Troy, New York, the home of his wife. Thomas was a man of fine presence, 6 foot tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was studious in habits, deliberate but decided in action and fastidious to the point of exasperation. He was respected by his superiors and beloved by his subordinates. Another nickname he was given was “Pap Thomas.”

When General Sherman decided to relocate the Newport Barracks to the top of the hills overlooking the Ohio River to escape the relentless flooding of the “bottoms”, he chose the site that is now Fort Thomas. As was tradition at the time, Forts were named to honor Civil War Generals and thus, Fort Thomas got its name. To the best of our current records, General Thomas never lived nor was he stationed at Fort Thomas, but it is believed that he did visit the site upon several occasions. This is the heritage of Fort Thomas, named for a man who placed honor, duty and country above all else.

More information on General Thomas (Click Here)

Historical Tidbits

Located in the northeastern corner of Campbell County, Kentucky, Fort Thomas was once the site of a great Indian battle. Graves of 500 or 600 Indian warriors were discovered on a ridge near Highland and Newman Avenues. Archeologists indicate that around 1749 a roving Cherokee tribe fought and lost to the Shawnees and the Miamis in a fierce three day battle. According to Indian legend, the Cherokee chief had betrayed a medicine man highly regarded by the other tribes and this accounted for the fierceness of the fight. Over the years the once-plentiful relics and arrowheads have been thoroughly combed by field trips, school children, and by construction in the area.

Also in 1749, a group of prominent Virginians secured a land grant and sent surveyor Christopher Gist as a scout to Kentucky. His reports led to exploration of the entire area as to its future potential for settlements. The state’s first white woman, Mary Ingles, came to the area as captive of the Shawnee Indians. She and a Dutch woman escaped from Big Bone Lick and were later rescued along the Ohio River banks. State Highway Route 8 was named for her in 1924.

During the Civil War, the site of Fort Thomas was on a key invasion route to Cincinnati and was part of the Cincinnati Defense Perimeter which stretched from Bromley and Fort Mitchell to Wilder and John’s Hill. Remains of trenches are still visible on the south slopes of the Highland Country club, the old Beverly Hills Supper Club hill and in the area of the Campbell County Y.M.C.A. Others earthworks can be seen in Evergreen Cemetery which lies on a hilltop that provided visibility of the entire southern Licking Valley. These were parts of a 12-mile long perimeter of 25 installations built to defend the Greater Cincinnati area.

The key fortification in Campbell County was Fort Whittlesay almost directly across from the present tower at the entrance to Tower Park. Armed with nine cannons, it was actually two separate forts with a stockade to protect a passageway joining the exterior trenches. There were concealed trenches and subterranean tunnel. This fort and others in the immediate area never had an opportunity to prove their worth, though there were many scares. One was when General Kirby Smith and 12,000 Confederates moved north; another was when General John Hunt Morgan threatened to raid Cincinnati. The only casualty recorded in Campbell County was a volunteer killed by a cannon misfire.

General Sheridan was asked in 1887 to survey a beautiful hilltop site overlooking the Ohio River with the thought of making it an Army Post. A more suitable location than the lower-lying water-logged Newport Post was needed. Repeated flooding of the barracks was becoming costly as well as disrupting training for weeks at a time. Standing atop a bluff, he selected 111 acres and declared this “Highlands” area to be the “West Point of the West.” Not only did General Sheridan approve of the location, but also named it after his Civil War companion General George H. Thomas, the “Rock of Chicamauga”.

Gen. Thomas was one of the famed Union generals of the Civil War. He was born in Southeastern Virginia, and was a West Point graduate, classmate of William T. Sherman, and served with Robert E. Lee. He won the first true victory for the Union at Spring Mill, Ky., and in 1863, held supply lines from noon until dark against the Confederate Forces at Chicamauga Creek, Tennessee. They were bloodied but unbeaten. This action earned him his famous nickname, the “Rock of Chicamauga” and a permanent rank of brigadier general. Gen. Thomas also opposed the Confederate General John Hood at Nashville in 1864, crushing his forces in two days of fighting. For this action, he was called the “Hammer of Nashville.” It was the only major battle of the entire Civil War in which an Army was destroyed.

Fort Thomas was incorporated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky on February 27, 1867. Originally, the area was named the District of the Highlands and it was changed by vote of the property owners to “Fort Thomas” in 1914. At that time, the central area of town was called Mt. Vernon and the north end of town was Mt. Pleasant. Highland Avenue used to have board sidewalks from Fort

Thomas Avenue all the way down to Alexandria Pike. There are many historic sites in the City, including St. Stephen Cemetery, which has been in use since 1850, and Samuel Woodfill School, which is named for a WW I hero. Robson Spring, on Alexandria Pike, is a surviving mineral spring used regularly in the 1920s and used by many for drinking water during the Flood of 1937. There were ponds at Klainecrest and Grand Avenue and at Highland and Grand Avenue which provided fishing, swimming, and ice skating in the winter.

The Samuel Shaw House near Audubon is one of the oldest homes in town, built in 1859, and there are approximately 160 residences that are 100 years old or more. The military Fort itself was constructed between 1890 and 1897. The Stone Water Tower, which is our most notable landmark displays a bronze memorial plaque to the 28 officers and soldiers from the 6th Infantry who were killed while fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and is flanked by two cannons captured from Spainish ships in Havana Harbor. It is made of Kentucky limestone, is 90 feet tall and was a vital part of the Fort, providing water for all the soldiers, officers and their families. It is said that the tank never ran dry although the population of the Fort used an average of 15,500 gallons of water a day.


The Army Post

Soldiers stationed at Fort Thomas in 1909.

Soldiers stationed at Fort Thomas in 1909.

During the Spanish-American War Fort Thomas was busy as a mobilization point and after it was over, the entire Fort was turned into a hospital where scores of veterans convalesced from jungle fevers. Prior to World War I, there was serious talk that that the Fort might be converted to a storage depot or abandoned, but the outbreak of hostilities with Germany reversed the situation quickly. Fort Thomas became an important center of recruitment and induction. Temporary barracks were erected on every available spot and in 1919, it was reactivated as an infantry post. A fine new barracks was constructed that now serves as a key building in the Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Hospital.

The 10th Infantry arrived in 1922, reassigned to Fort Thomas, and they remained until 1940. During the 1930’s, the Fort was used for training and for administering several civilian projects inspired by the depression. Later, the post was again activated as an Army reception center and induction center until 1964. Army activities have extended over a period of 161 years here.

Soldiers at Fort Thomas in 1918.

Soldiers at Fort Thomas in 1918.

In 1970 the City of Fort Thomas was able to purchase a portion of the government tract with the understanding that it would be used for “recreational purposes for the citizens of the area.” Over the years, many facilities have been developed and modified to provide a track, tennis courts, and ball fields. There are picnic shelters, playgrounds, walking trails, basketball courts, and volleyball sand areas. Both the Armory Building and the Old Mess Hall Building have been utilized for sports and meeting facilities. A religious-affiliated nursing home (Carmel Manor) and an Army Reserve Center utilize some of the remaining buildings; the Veterans Administration retained and still maintains a hospital/care unit facility, and still owns the dozen or so large homes at the end of Alexander Circle assigned to their personnel. A number of the government-owned homes were obtained by the City of Fort Thomas in the transfer of property. After a number of years of being “landlord” and trying to maintain these homes with City funds, they were sold individually under a Homeowners’ Association/condo-type agreement. These lovely homes were constructed as the quarters for military officers and are on the National Historic Register.

In the early 1900’s, mineral waters had been discovered in the Fort Thomas area, and several landowners and entrepreneurs turned much of the City into a health resort, similar to French Lick, Indiana. There were three large hotels constructed on three promotories overlooking the Ohio River and Ohio residents flocked into Northern Kentucky to “take the mineral waters” and relax at the Altamont, the Avenel, and the Shelley Arms.

The Altamont Hotel

The Altamont Hotel

First School

The first school in Fort Thomas was a log cabin near Holly Lane and North Fort Thomas Avenue, which was called Mt. Pleasant School. It was also used as a church building and was attended alternate Sundays by the Baptist and Methodist congregations. St. Thomas Catholic Church and School began in a house at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Tremont in 1902. A number of churches had their initial meetings in the old City Building, among them the Highland Methodist in 1830, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in 1905, Christ Church United in 1906, First Baptist in 1915, and First Presbyterian in 1830. St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church was founded in 1930 and located in the north section of town.

Eighteen years later in 1850, a second school was built on Highland Avenue opposite Newman Avenue, know as Mount Vernon School. Union School was built shortly after on the Alexandria Pike near St. Stephen’s Cemetery. Highlands High School opened for the fall term in 1915 and the cornerstone records state: “Our graduates invariably stand high when entering universities or colleges. Our entire corps of teachers is a most excellent one.” That year, there were 955 students and 15 teachers. Today, Fort Thomas schools are highly respected and maintain a high rating with the State Department of Education. More than 80% of Highlands High School graduates go on to college. The first census taken in 1871 listed the population of Fort Thomas at 617. Today’s population tops the 16,000 mark.

Information obtained from sources such as: Fort Thomas…it’s history…it’s heritage, by Paul T. Knapp.

Famous Murder Case

Perhaps the most startling excitement and bizarre experience in the history of Fort Thomas occurred in January, 1896, when in a field not far from the end of the car line was found the decapitated body of a woman. It startled and shocked the entire county, and now we know it as the famous Pearl Bryan murder case. The identity of the body as well as the murderers was discovered by Cal Crim, then a young man, and paved the way for his successful career. The head was never found and a year later two young dental students by the name of Walling and Jackson were hanged in the Newport Courthouse yard, although never confessing their guilt. This double hanging marked the last time that Campbell County meted out such capital punishment.

Fort Thomas 82nd Anniversary

Here’s an excerpt from a WLW radio production in 1952, written by Greg Deane, as Fort Thomas celebrated its 82nd anniversary. It provides information about the beginning days of our community:

“Fort Thomas has always been a haven for “homey” people—folks who work in the surrounding towns—and who come back to Fort Thomas each evening, back to the City of beautiful homes. Fort Thomas is only 4 miles south of Cincinnati, on a hilltop; the highest location at 850 feet high is the Military Reservation.

“At the first town meeting in 1867, selected members met at the home of John Lilley on Alexandria Pike. The first City Building was constructed in 1885 and stood on the present site on North Fort Thomas Avenue until its demolition and the reconstruction of a new building in 1967. The original building had a public cistern, a line of hitching posts for horses, and a large meeting hall, which was used twice a week for roller skating.

“The City boasted an electric railway  from downtown Cincinnati to Fort Thomas brought in through the generosity of Samuel Bigstaff, a well-to-do citizen and land owner. These rail cars were lighted and heated and during the winter months, straw was nicely placed over the floor boards to prevent the wind from coming up through the board and chilling the passengers. Further, the C.N.&C. Electric Railway co. promised to haul freight on these cars only during the midnight to dawn hours so as not to frighten the horses of the residents of the community.

“The military Fort itself was constructed in 1890, with the first unit assigned being the 6th Infantry under Col. Melville Cochran. Soon after, the name of the town was changed from the District of the Highlands to honor a Civil War hero, Gen. George H. Thomas—who waved the Union Army with his brave stand during the Battle of Chicamauga in Georgia.” He was affectionately known as the “Rock of Chicamauga.”

The 90-foot limestone tower was erected by the cities of Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington as a joint venture and as a memorial to the Spanish-American war veterans that were killed in action. The cannons were made by Spanish gunsmiths in the 18th century, and were captured in a battle of the Spanish American War.

“The community of Fort Thomas is one mindful of the military roots that formed the core of the municipality, and the historical roots of the Ohio River that runs along the entire Eastern border. Situated along the ridge line of the river bluffs, with lovely old homes as well as newer ones, tree-shaded streets and well-placed parks, the City reflects its people. As with any City, there is not only a collection of buildings and streets, but also of the capabilities and abstract qualities of her citizens.”






Fort Thomas commemorated the role played by the Sixth Regiment, United States Infantry, from Fort Thomas who participated in the Spanish-American War after the sinking of the Maine in the Havana, Cuba harbor a century ago. A number of events were scheduled for the grounds of Tower Park on June 27 and 28, 1998. A reenactment of the living conditions of soldiers who participated in the Battle of San Juan Hill involved forty persons in period costumes. They lived in tents on the grounds and demonstrated military drills for the two days.

Two dedications also took place during the weekend. A small Museum in the Fort Thomas Community Center (the former Mess Hall) was dedicated to the memory of Fort Thomas residents who gave their lives for their country in all wars since 1914. Here a large plaque lists these men. Help is needed to find the families of these heroes so that they may be contacted to be recognized at the Centennial Program. In addition, a search is underway to find pictures of these men. If anyone can give information, please contact Melissa Kelly, City Clerk, at the City Building – ph. (859) 441-1055.

The second dedication commemorated the memorial granite boulder on the brick paving area in front of the Community Center. Engraved on the stone is the citation given by the U.S. Department of the Interior naming the Fort as a National Registered Military District (May 15, 1986). Many of the bricks here are inscribed with names of past and present residents of Fort Thomas and former military personnel of the Army Reservation. A special section of bricks will be installed recognizing the men honored within the Museum. Also, 1st Lt. Samuel Woodfill, a career Army officer of the 10th Infantry and recipient of the Medal of Honor, is spotlighted in one area of the Museum.

The stone water tower at the entrance to Tower Park displays a large bronze plaque recognizing soldiers and officers once stationed at Fort Thomas who later lost their lives during the Spanish-American War. This plaque is decorated with furled flags, a dynamic eagle astride a shield with stars and stripes against a laurel wreath. The border is a raised egg and dart design. Covington artist Clement J. Barnhorn was the sculptor. At the base of the tower rests two cannons captured in Cuba, dated Barcelona – 1768 and Barcelona – 1769.

While many of the original buildings are gone, the Mess Hall has been transformed into a Community Center for the use of area residents for both public and private meetings and events, and the Armory building, once used for military drills in inclement weather, is now a constantly used recreational facility. The “Military Commons” was created in 1992 when the City sold the Officers’ houses on Pearson Street to private individuals. This project was presented with an Ida Lee Willis Preservation Award by the Kentucky Heritage Council in 1992. All of these homes have been extensively renovated on the inside while a covenant with the City keeps the exteriors in their original condition.




On February 15, 1898, the people of the United States were startled when the news flashed throughout the country that our Battleship “Maine” had been blown up while anchored in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. There was an appalling loss of 266 lives—Naval officers, crewmen, and some Marines. Within 54 days, the Congress of the United States declared war against the Spanish Government, who were occupying Cuba and mistreating the people there. President William McKinley laid the facts before the Senators and Representatives and State by State, resolutions and monies were offered for the preparations for war. By April 25, war was declared on Spain after diplomatic negotiations between the two countries broke down.

SixthRegimentPreparations naturally extended to the Fort Thomas Army Post and the Sixth U.S. Infantry stationed here. (shown here near what is now the Community Center, or what was then the Mess Hall) Grass-roots America became quickly fired up at news of the battles which were headlined in local newspapers. They volunteered in large numbers. This included scores of young men from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, many of whom were processed through Fort Thomas. Units of the Sixth Infantry departed marching down Water Works Road to Newport to a waiting train along Saratoga Street. They were escorted through the principal streets in Northern Kentucky by numerous civic, military, and patriotic organizations, who wildly waved flags and blew whistles. Thousands of cheering, shouting people lined the streets and bade the boys “Godspeed!”

They left that night on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, with enthusiastic demonstrations greeting the “Spanish-American War Special” along their route. It took them two days by rail to reach Tampa, Florida, and they were assigned to become part of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of the Fifth Army Corps as a part of General Shafter’s expedition to Cuba. On June 8, 1898, they left camp and marched three miles to board a train to Port Tampa where they embarked on the Steamer “Miami,” a military transport under the command of Lt. Col. Harry Egbert. (Egbert was later killed in action in the Philippines; he is honored with a bronze plaque on the south side of the Stone Tower at Fort Thomas.)

As they arrived in Cuba, a battle was already raging with the American forces attempting to force surrender of the city of Santiago. The Unit moved to a hill in front of the captured city and remained in camp until they were called to support Col. Teddy Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders” in a charge up San Juan Hill. The temperature was nearing 100 degrees and Roosevelt’s unit was clustered at the base of Kettle Hill while the Spanish forces at the top of the hill were firing repeatedly.

Roosevelt’s impulsive desire was to charge up the hill even before receiving orders from the General, but he waited. Finally the orders arrived, he leaped on his horse and shouted to his men to begin the charge. A bullet grazed his elbow as he urged his men to follow him. He fired his revolver, the mounted troops and ground troops moved forward as a groundswell and soon the Spanish were fleeing. It was a moment of glory and achievement for this courageous and inspired leader of the “Rough Riders.” His reputation in this incident and others during that summer made him the hero of the Spanish-American War.

Partly because of this fame, he became Governor of New York, then agreed to be placed on the ticket as Vice President of the United States with President McKinley. The team won the election in 1900 and barely one year later when McKinley was shot, Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest president in the history of the U.S. at age 42.

During the Spanish-American War, only 385 soldiers died from actual combat but thousands died from diseases, such as yellow fever, dystonia, and other causes. On December 10, 1898, a peace treaty was signed in Paris ending the war and Spain gave up Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines which became U.S. possessions. The Spanish-American War began with high motives, it was carried on with great intelligence and spirit, and it marked a great change in equilibrium whereby the United States took on a new dominion of power.


SamuelWoodfillThis is a man whom General Pershing called “America’s greatest soldier,” a man who had more medals (1919) than any other soldier in the army and who was responsible for the “most remarkable one-man exploit of World War I.” The WASHINGTON STAR commented that his deeds of valor were so quietly done that no one knew about them except the War Department…”How did it happen that the country at large was deprived of the knowledge of him. Someone should be charged with the responsibility of searching out and making known these great shy ones.

Samuel Woodfill, first lieutenant 60th Infantry. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy at Cunel, France, October 12, 1918, While he was leading his company against the enemy his line came under heavy machine gun fire, which threatened the hold up the advance. Followed by two soldiers at 25 yards, this officer went out ahead of his first line towards a machine-gun nest and worked his way around its flank, leaving the two soldiers in front. (When he got within ten yards of the gun it ceased firing, and four of the enemy appeared, three of whom were shot by Woodfill. The fourth, an officer, rushed at Lieutenant Woodfill, who attempted to club the officer with his rifle. After a hand to hand struggle, Lieutenant Woodfill killed the officer with his pistol.) (The account in brackets is somewhat inaccurate.) His company thereupon continued to advance until shortly afterwards another machine-gun nest was encountered. Calling to his men to follow, Lt. Woodfill rushed ahead of his line in the face of heavy fire from the nest, and when several of the enemy appeared above the nest, he shot them, capturing three other members of the crew and silencing the gun. A few minutes later this officer, for the third time demonstrated conspicuous daring by charging another machine-gun position, killing five men in one machine-gun pit with his rifle. He then drew his revolver and started to jump into the pit when two other gunners only a few yards away turned their gun on him. Failing to kill them with his revolver, he grabbed a pick lying near by and killed both of them. Inspired with exceptional courage displayed by this officer, his men pressed on to their objective under severe shell and machine-gun fire.

Woodfill remained very little known, even in army circles, until 1921, when the great ceremony of the Unknown Soldier was held. Among the pallbearers of the Unknown (the honor guard) were to be the three outstanding soldiers of the A.E.F. General Pershing was to select them. A committee received 3,000 citations, the records of three thousand men who had been honored during the war. From these were selected 100. General Pershing went over the 100 and picked 3. One of the three was Sergeant York. Another was Colonel Whitlesey of the “Lost Battalion.” Another was Samuel Woodfill. When Pershing came to Woodfill’s name on the list, he said: “Why, I’ve already selected that man as the outstanding soldier of the A.E.F.” Newspaper reporters got this statement. Few had heard of this Woodfill. They went scurrying up to look at the records. The burial of the Unknown Soldier took place with great pomp. Wilson, Taft, and Harding were in the procession. Woodfill had his wife come on to Washington for the ceremony, and they received much attention. Senator Ernst of Kentucky led him to the White House and introduced him to the President. At a performance of the Belasco Theater, Woodfill sat in the presidential box. One of the singers in the show spied him and told the audience about his valorous deeds. He got an ovation and was mobbed by admirers after the show. Congress adjourned in his honor. He was banqueted by the members of the House and Senate, and was photographed with the President and Secretary of War. In New York he was received with honors, and was the guest of Judge Philip J. McCook of the New York Supreme Court, who had been an intelligence officer with the Fifth Division overseas and had been badly wounded. Judge McCook took him to see Marshal Foch, then on a visit to America. The Marshall said he was happy to meet the first soldier of America, and Woodfill responded that he was happy to meet the first soldier of the World. He was received a the Stock Exchange, which had suspended business for three minutes in his honor. A reception at the Hippodrome-Foch was there, and Woodfill had the right-hand box. Here again he was greeted with deafening applause. The Fifth Division gave a banquet in his honor, and Chase painted his portrait.


By Betty Daniels


The 102 feet high Stone Water Tower is a familiar Northern Kentucky landmark which stands at the entrance to Tower Park. It was the 16th structure built on the grounds of the Military Reservation. It encloses a standpipe which has a capacity of 100,000 gallons, pumped from the Kenton County Water District reservoirs just across South Fort Thomas Avenue. In 1890 when the military base was established, such provisions for water supply was necessary as there was no other water tower in this area.

The truncated base is 23 ½ feet square and made of granite. The blocks of limestone in the tower add to the appearance of a fortress. Only a few narrow openings, vertically spaced and the parapet top lend to the military design.

The tower was constructed in 1890 at a cost of $10,995. Project engineer was Patrick Rooney of Cincinnati and the building contractor was local builder Henry Schriver who constructed many other buildings in the Fort and in other parts of Fort Thomas and Campbell County. A wrought iron gate at the entrance has the numerals “16” in its design.

Above the gate and on the most prominent side is a bronze plaque, approximately 5 x 8 feet, which is dedicated to the memory of the members of the Sixth Regiment of the U.S. Infantry who lost their lives in the “War with Spain.” An animated eagle in high relief takes the attention of the viewer on first glance. The military symbols of flags, bayonets, a belt and bandolier, all in a bas-relief, increase the dramatic effect.

The sculpture on the plaque is the work of Covington artist Clement J. Barnhorn. Among his well-known works are the doors of the Cathedral Basilica in Covington and the sarcophagus of Elizabeth Boote Duveneck, a copy of which is in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Cannons were captured in Cuba’s Havana Harbor during the Spanish-American War rest on stone platforms in front of the Tower. The dates marked on these cannons, reflecting the date they were made in Barcelona, Spain, are “1768” and “1769.”



by A. Vinton Stegman

In 1867, when the District of the Highlands was incorporated, there was only one north-south road running along the ridge high above the Ohio River. It extended more than 4 ½ miles from Isaac Walker’s Road, on the north, to the southern boundary of Jacob Hawthorne’s property, opposite St. Stephen’s Cemetery. We still have just one north-south road. From Walker Road to the junction with Alexandria Pike, at the James Metcalfe home (Woodfill School site today), Civil War maps show it as “the road to Jamestown” (original name of part of Dayton). Then from Metcalfe’s on south, the road through the District was Alexandria Pike, a toll road. Traffic within the District, however, would pay no toll in that half-mile stretch of the turnpike. For the traveler heading south, the next toll-house was on the east side of the pike (U.S. 27), opposite the main entrance road to today’s Northern Kentucky University.

In the early years of the Highlands, there were only a few hundred residents, whose homes were widely spread over the elongated District, 4 ½ miles in length and 2 miles in width at the greatest distance from the river where Highland Avenue joins Alexandria Pike. With the Civil War recently ended, the population began to increase rather rapidly. The U.S. Census of 1870 lists 617 citizens and by 1880, the number had reached 814.

The Official Census Map of the District, surveyed and drawn by Mr. Robert Murnan, Campbell County Engineer, shows the location of 96 homes in the District with the owner’s name given for each, the date on the map being 1883. More than two-thirds of the houses were strung out along the main thoroughfare Highland Avenue, Mount Pleasant Avenue, and Jamestown Pike. The natural dividing line of (present) Highland Avenue has always separated north and south sections of the District of Highlands, later named the City of Fort Thomas in 1914. The map shows only 14 homes along the road south from Highland Avenue to St. Stephen’s Cemetery, so, if and when the United States Postal Department should decide to establish mail service of any kind for our hilltop community, the natural location of a Brach Station ( of the Newport Office) should have been somewhere north of Highland Avenue. The city of Newport’s reservoirs and road from Tenth St. to the Ohio River Pumping Station had been completed in 1872. There was finally a good “free: road for the transporting of mail to the Highlands, but the Post Office authorities did not see it that way. The truth, of course, is that there would be no post office, or mail station of any kid north of Military Park, until 1939, when the present post office was built on South Fort Thomas Avenue at Montvale Court.

With so few residents spread out over the Highlands, it is understandable that in the early years of the District, there was no attempt at mail delivery. Highlanders had to travel to the Newport Post Office to handle their postal needs. As the community grew, there began to be requests for some type of branch station. In 1883,the year that Mr. Murnan’s census was published, the Newport Post Office decided to set up a small pick-up and mail-drop, but the majority of Highlands’ residents were still unhappy as this sub-station was placed in the south end of town. The reason for selecting such a site, miles removed from two-thirds of the population, was that Mr. Ed Gosney’s Newport to Alexandria six-horse team bus line could bring out an take back the mail bags. The first place chosen was the Twelve Mile Road toll house at the northeast corner of River Road and Jamestown Pike (now South Fort Thomas Avenue) where Mrs. William Wilmer was the toll keeper and handled what mail there was. In 1887, a second sub-station was set up in a house on Grant Street, but this location was a half mile south of the toll house.

In 1887, when the War Department was considering Major Samuel Bigstaff’s proposition to move the Newport Barracks up to our hilltops, Co. Melville Cochran insisted on a post office somewhere near the Reservation. At that time the only mail service in the entire District where the two mail-drops and pick-ups in the south end of town. Bigstaff, aided by Campbell County’s Congressman Albert Shaler Berry, arranged for the Post Office Department to award Mr. L. L. Ross a thirty year lease on a suitable structure for use as a branch of the Newport Post Office. It was to be erected on the southwest corner of the Ross farm, adjoining the Army Post. For some unknown reason, the building was not erected until 1891, as the photo of the tower, flying its “topping out” flag, shows part of the Ross Property but not he post office building. (See photo #5)

As may be judged by the bold advertising signs lettered on the sun screen valance suspended across the entire front porch roof, even over the post office half of the two room building, no one in the postal service considered it demeaning to combine the new post office with a confectionery and cigar store. (See photo #2) Apparently it was considered to be a suitable structure. ( I do not have the date of the picture but the ad for “Col. Egbert 5 cent Cigars” proves that it was taken no earlier that 1899 when the Colonel was killed in the Philippines. A bronze plaque in his memory is on the south side of the water tower.)

Mr. Ross, a prominent, long time resident of the Highlands, would become the father of one Fort Thomas mayor, Lewis L. Jr. and grandfather of another, Bruce. Also he was an astute businessman, as three of his four sons, Stanley, Joel and William, were given jobs in the post office. Lewis attended Dental College in Cincinnati. Stanley served as clerk until 1898, then the Williams Directory for that year lists: “William B. Ross, Clerk in Charge, Substation No. 1, Newport Post Office”. He was to hold that position until 1911 when another Highlands resident, J. Howard Voige, was placed in charge. The title was changed to Superintendent and Voige held the position until 1947 when he was promoted to Superintendent of Newport Post Office.

When the thirty-year lease held by Ross expired in 1918, the post office was moved onto the Midway where is would remain until the present building was constructed at 24 South Fort Thomas Avenue in 1939. From 1918 until 1929 the two story brick building that had been Sattler’s Grocery when built in 1892, served as our post office (1013 South Fort Thomas Avenue). Between 1929 and 1939 Superintendent Voige and his staff occupied a newly erected brick post office building with iron bars on the windows. This site is 1107 South Fort Thomas Avenue.

The town fathers were cooperative, as they had erected a special lamp post at the north corner of the new building, just across the Ross boardwalk and on its hanging an iron mail-box, the Highland’s first. Mr. John Kiechler, the town’s lamp lighter, would now add this post office stop to his daily route as he covered the Highlands. (He put just the right amount of kerosene in each lamp so it would burn itself out by dawn) One of the Ross boys shown on the porch is working in the post office and the driver of the mail wagon, which carries the letters, U.S.M., is attired in his campaign hat, white collar and bow tie. The building that can be seen just beyond the post office roof is the corner house on Non-Com Row (Pearson St.). In 1917, this was the home of Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Samuel Woodfill, named both by General Pershing and Marshall Foch as the “outstanding soldier of the A.E.F.”. After retirement from the Army, he and Mrs. Woodfill lived at the corner of Alexandria Pike and Hawthorne Avenue, not far from the Samuel Woodfill Elementary School.

FAQs (Police)



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What are good examples of when to call 911?

The Campbell County Combined Dispatch Center provides a link between the citizens of the city and the public safety departments and personnel in the event of an emergency. The 9-1-1 system is one of the most state-of-the-art features in the County. But when should you call 9-1-1?

  • Crimes in Progress
  • Life Threatening Situations
  • Fires
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents of major traffic and street obstructions
  • Injuries requiring emergency medical attention
  • Hazardous chemical spills
  • Smoke detector or Carbon Monoxide Detectors sounding
  • Sparking electrical hazards
  • Smoke in a building
  • Any other EMERGENCY or if you aren’t sure, but feel it is serious, CALL 911


What are good examples of when NOT to call 911?
  • Asking directions in the city
  • Inquiring about school openings or closings
  • Questions about any UTILITY OUTAGE (i.e. Power, Water, Cable TV)
  • Reporting a blocked driveway
  • Reporting an obstructed hydrant
  • Questions about snow emergencies or parking bans
  • Reporting a noise complaint
  • Questions about traffic tickets
  • All other NON-EMERGENCY situations


What happens if I hangup before 911 is answered?

At the 911 center all the information is displayed even though the caller has hung up. The 911 center will attempt a call-back to see if there is an emergency. The dispatcher may send a police unit to verify the situation.


What do I tell my children about 911?

Emergencies present a scary situation for children. At times they may not know what to do. Below you will find some tips on how to teach your child how to use and when to use the 9-1-1 system.


Some children may have heard about 9-1-1 from school, television, or friends, but may not understand what it is used for. Children may not be sure what a real emergency is. Remind children to dial 9-1-1 when they need help to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire. Inform your child that if they are ever lost and feel that they are not safe, to pick up a phone and dial 911 and they will be helped.


The most important thing you can do is to talk with your child about 9-1-1 and when they should call. Tell your child that if they ever have to call 9-1-1 there will be person on the other end who is going to help them.

REMEMBER: 911 on Pay Phones is FREE. If your child is lost, or out in public and needs help, the Pay Phone can be a life-line to a child that needs help. They may not know where they are, but the pay phone tells the dispatcher where they are.


When there are no adults at home every child or babysitter should have the following information posted by the phone:

  • A list of emergency numbers
  • Your home phone number and the address
  • Any other contact information (pager numbers, cell phone numbers, neighbors numbers)

The best time to prepare for an emergency is now!! Don’t wait until one happens!


Can I call 911 from my Cell Phone? How does it know where to send my call?

Yes you can use 911 from a Cell Phone. There are a few things to consider before dialing:

  • The call is free and even works from a charged cell phone that has no service (it will count minutes on the phone, but you are not charged).
  • Although Cell Phone technologies are greatly improving, your call will be routed to the jurisdiction in which the RECEIVING CELL TOWER is standing. It is not uncommon for people in Cincinnati to get a dispatcher in Fort Thomas or Newport or vice-versa.
    • Understanding this, tell the 911 call-taker WHERE YOU ARE and verify that the 911 operator you reach is in the jurisdiction in which you need help before you start giving the emergency data.


What are some examples of things I should call the Police Dispatch telephone number 859-292-3622 for?

There are countless things you should use the Police Department’s regular dispatch line 859-292-3622 for, but here are a few guides to follow:

  • To report an incident to the Police Department that does not require the immediate dispatch of an officer to the scene, or when some time has elapsed since the occurrence of the incident, such as reporting an inactive burglary, an inactive theft, that took place some time ago.
  • Minor NON-INJURY accidents.
  • To report a crime that is NOT IN PROGRESS.
  • General NON-EMERGENCY, NON-Life-Threatening situations that clearly need to be handled by police now.


What are some examples of things I should call the Police Administrative telephone number for (859-441-6562)?
  • To ask questions about policing and criminal law (not legal advise), or help with parking situations, disturbances, speeding complaints, dog trouble, etc.
  • To request records and copies of reports.
  • To inquire about a towed vehicle.
  • To inquire about ordinances and laws.
  • To reach the administrative personnel of the police department. (I.E. The Chief, The Administrative Lieutenant or the Police Records Clerk.)


Are there things I should not call the police for at all?

Yes. When you call a police and fire dispatch center, you are calling a person who handles Police, Fire and EMS radio traffic and all 911 telephone lines. There are times that people call with issues that are clearly not police or fire matters and should be directed elsewhere in order to keep this personnel free to handle emergency situations and general police issues. If you are in doubt, don’t risk it, GO AHEAD AND CALL. SOME EXAMPLES ARE (and keep in mind these are listed because they are actually calls that are made):

  • Inquiring about school openings or closings for snow. Listen to the radio. Often during snow or bad weather, the dispatch center is swamped with emergencies.
  • Questions about UTILITY OUTAGE unless there is risk to safety or life. (i.e. General Power, Water, Cable TV). Call your utility company. DO CALL for powerlines down. DO CALL for a water main break after 4:30 PM.
  • To get telephone numbers. Please dial 411 for directory assistance.
  • To get the weather report.
  • To get traffic updates for any area outside of Campbell County. We usually don’t know.
  • To complain about interstate and highway construction (unless there is a hazard).
  • To complain about snow removal and street salting service. ONLY call with serious and unusual hazards. The City Public Works department handles critical streets in a predetermined priority list (and dispatch and the police department do not have that list).
  • To ask about trash removal and recycling service and days of service.
  • To ask about Trick-or-Treat, 4th of July Parade etc. Watch the City’s main web page. All main events are posted there.
  • To complain about another police department.
  • To complain about another City department.
  • To argue a speeding or parking ticket.
  • To get the score of the Highlands Football game (Yes, believe it or not, we get them).
  • And last, but not least, watch as you dial. We are not the Cable Company.  Their number is 431-0300, our old dispatch number was 441-0300. We get calls for Pay-Per-View and cable service all the time.


Is there anyway to make 911 more efficient?

Yes, If you see an emergency on the highway or in your neighborhood, let everyone you can know that you have already notified 911 if you are out on the scene. Often times the 911 center is overwhelmed by people repeatedly calling with the same emergency. If you see someone on a cell phone, see if they are contacting 911. If so, that will do it. ALL 911 Calls have to be answered and overwhelming the dispatcher could delay much needed dispatch of help and rescue units.


What are your hours of operation?

We are open 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday thru Friday for general business. Police service is 24 hours to the City for police and emergency service. The dispatch and 911 services are 24 hour a day via the Campbell County Combined Dispatch Center. For administrative needs such as records, Police Clerk, Administrative Lieutenant or Police Chief, the hours are Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm except Holidays. Administrative Telephone 859-441-6562.


What do I do when someone calls soliciting for the Fort Thomas Police Department?

The Fort Thomas Police Department DOES NOT solicit donations. Often times solicitors will call in the name of various charities and drug education programs and advise our residents that the money assists the Fort Thomas Police Department. This is not true. At this time, the police department does not solicit funds via telephone campaigns in any way. We recommend that you be very CAUTIOUS of these callers.


What do I do if I am a victim of fraud over the internet?

A growing area of crime is on the internet. This is due to both the rapid increasing popularity as well as the vast distance this means of fraud covers.
If you are a victim of a scam or fraud over the internet, contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC).


I filed a report with an officer. How do I get a copy of this report?

Reports can be obtained from the Police Clerk during administrative hours.


What is the process to become a Fort Thomas Police Officer

You may drop off a resume at any time to the City Clerk’s Office. It will be held on file for up to a year. Fort Thomas Police establish an eligibility list by civil service exam annually. For further information call the City Clerk at 859-441-1055 or see the City’s web pages FAQ’s section.


I received a City Citation? What are my options?

1.) You may pay via mail. The citation is an envelop with prepaid postage.

2.) You may pay in person to the City finance office. (The police Department does not receive payments of any kind.)

3.) You may speak to a police supervisor about it.

4.) You may contest it by having an officer transfer it to a State Citation so that a judge my hear the case.

How much money does the City make from State Citations?

The law pertaining to this issue has just change 04-15-04. House Bill 413 changed the way money is ditributed to the Cities from issued State Citations. You may research House Bill 413 by clicking this link. There is a formula based system now in place for distributions of total conviction funds received. Either way, the money generated goes into the general fund for basic operations of the police department. If you would like to know more, contact the City Administrators Office at 859-441-1055.


Is there a “Quota” that officers must fulfill when it comes to issuing State Citations?

THERE IS NO SET QUOTA for issuing tickets by any entity. Officers issue citation based upon needs determined by drivers themselves such as high speed, reckless driving etc.


My vehicle has been towed by your department. What do I do?

If your vehicle was towed due to an arrest or violation, you either received an on-scene release of the vehicle or it is at the police department. You can not retrieve your vehicle from our contract towing services without the release. Call the administrative police line at 859-441-6562 if you are unsure.

The Fort Thomas Police Department in no way controls or dictates the cost of the impoundment of your vehicle. These prices are set by the towing company and can vary depending on the complications that can arise from towing a car. There are also storage fees for the vehicle which is also dictated by the towing service.

From the 1st of the Month until the 15th of the month, we use Silver Grove Motors. You can contact them at 859-441-2200.

From the 16th or the month until the 30th or 31st of the month we use Simon’s Towing and Recovery. You can contact them at 859-781-1165.


I think there is a traffic and speed problem on my street. What can I do?

You can go to the “On-Line Forms” section of this site and make a request, or you can call the police department and ask for your complaint to be logged. Various options are available to examine the situation. Most times a device called the StealthStat can be placed on the street to check all traffic, and calculates Speed V Time, Car V Time and Car V Speed. The intensive data that is collected will tell our department, and you, whether your perception is correct. If it determines there is a problem, then patrol radar cars can enforce the speed limit more intensively or the speed education trailer can be placed on the street as well in an attempt to slow the traffic.



Fort Thomas Fire Department History


Excerpts from the book; “100 Years of Service, An Historical Account of The Fort Thomas, Kentucky Fire Department, by Ken J. Schaub.

The history started long before the City of Fort Thomas was formed and includes a large amount of fire fighting from members of the community and the Soldiers of the Fort. Below are just a few of the highlights from the hundred years of service provided to the community.

In 1903 the district entered into a contract with the Union Light Heat and Power Company to install water lines and fire hydrants. On October 21, 1904, soldiers from the post fought a fire on the midway, which destroyed the buildings. The brick two story saloon of Charles Reidmatter. Every soldier from the Army post was working at the fire alongside citizens of the community. The post’s fire engine was also used. Two soldiers were injured when a ladder they were working from collapsed. Assistance was asked for from the Cincinnati Fire Department but the buildings were to the ground by the time they arrived with an engine and a hose wagon. All of the injured people were taken to the Army post hospital.

oldftfd1During the latter part of 1904 the group of citizens formed the official District of the Highlands’ Volunteer Fire Department. This organization agreed to become a volunteer public service organization to fight the area’s fires and help the public in many different ways including salvage operations from storms, flooding, and other natural disasters. They approached the trustees for help in acquiring equipment.

In early October the District of the Highlands put into service the Fire “Chemical’ wagon. The Chemical Wagon was a one horse drawn wooden wagon that stored the fire equipment and had extinguishers. The wagon was housed at the W.A. White Altamont Boarding and Sales Stable. The agreement with Mr. White and the District included Mr. White provided a driver and saw that the Chemical Wagon arrived at the fire. The brand new Chemical Wagon was used to fight the fire at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Cold Spring.

In 1905 the Volunteer Fire Department consisted of eight men from the community including Mr. Frank Phister, who was named the Captain-in-Charge, and leader by the other members of the organization, (although no one held the rank of Fire Chief in the new department, Mr. Phister was the first official leader of the volunteer fire department of the District of the Highlands). The other members were Engineer W.A White, his assistant Walter Jones, Captain Phister’s assistant June Wilson, Secretary Treasurer L.H. Wilson, Board of Trustees Albert Stegmann, Jas. L. Storrs and C.F. Bruinger.

At the November 1907 meeting the district’s trustees issued new By-Laws by Ordinance for the police and firemen. In the By-Laws it was stated that the police personnel would Pictured above is the old Fort Thomas City Building where the first Fire Department was established. This building was torn down in 1967 to build the building that exists now. take care of all police and fire calls and that the district’s Police Chief would have the duties of the Fire Chief and see that the chemical wagon and the patrol wagon be kept clean and ready for service. Also during this meeting Charles R. Flynn was elected as the District’s first Police Chief and the duties of the Fire Chief were given to him. After that action the Highland Fire Volunteer Organization’s members started loosing interest. Because of the city’s leadership action some members left.

On January 16,1909, at the district’s trustees meeting, Police Chief Charles Flynn was voted out of office after serving just over one year and a new Police Chief was named. Louis Cook Jr. was voted to the position. He was also given the duties of Fire Chief and Pound master, (the toll collector). (He was also thought to have been the first fire chief of the District of the Highlands as it was printed in some articles on the district’s history. Louis Cook retired in 1955 from the office of Police Chief after over 46 years of service included 21 years of being the Fire Chief).

At the January 14, 1916, City Council meeting the cities fathers elected Mr. Charles Hanna as the official first paid fireman for the City of Fort Thomas. His duties included the duties of a policeman. Police Chief Louis Cook retained his duties as the Fire Chief. At this time and until 1925 there were six volunteers to assist the fire chief and one fireman. The firemen’s salary was established by council at eighty dollars, ($80.00) per month.

January of 1925, fireman Paul Pirsche resigned. The city felt the need to have more than one firemen and appointed Mr. Bernie J. Nielander and Mr. Raymond Tatman to the positions. This gave the city three paid firemen and six volunteers. The new firemen also served as policemen. In that same year the city’s #1 fire engine, the Ahren’s Fox model K11, was sent back to Ahren’s Fox Company, in CincinnatiHighlands High School Fire, for an overhaul. The overhaul work included work on the engine and pump. The fire department and city leaders saw a need to start plans for another fire truck.

In 1928, the city purchased a second fire engine from Ahren’s Fox Fire Truck Company of Cincinnati, Ohio for thirteen thousand five hundred dollars, ($13,500). The City’s #2 fire engine, was a R-K-4 model, 1000 gallons per minute front mount piston pumper with a chrome plated pump ball on the nose of the truck.

With ordinance #298 adopted by city council, fireman Bernie J. Nielander became the first full time Fire Chief for the City of Fort Thomas and fireman Raymond Tatman became the first Assistant Fire Chief. This same ordinance in May of 1930 relieved Police Chief Louis Cook of all fire chief responsibilities. The city’s paid firefighting staff was now officially at four men.

During the year of 1942 the city had a population of 11,034 and an annual fire department budget of $11,288, just a fraction of a dollar over one dollar per person living in Fort Thomas. That was such a bargain considering today’s costs to run a fire department.

In 1952, the city had a population of 11,950 and had almost thirty-one and half miles of streets. The fire department maintained 236 fire hydrants with seven paid regulars and thirteen volunteers. The fire department budget was set a $35,229 for the year.New city Bldg

On December 20, 1952, the city’s high school caught on fire. The Chemistry lab sustained over $5,475 of fire and water damage. The fire department ended the year making 120 emergency runs and 106 life squad runs.

In 1955, Fire Chief Bernie Nielander and Police Chief Louis Cook retired. Chief Nielander served the city’s fire department for thirty years and held the Chief’s position for twenty-five of his thirty years on the force. Also in 1955 three more firefighters were hired, and the fire department went to a new standard work uniform. Smoky gray was the color and the uniform replaced the use of fireman’s personal clothing while on duty. The added firemen gave the department eight paid firemen and thirteen volunteers. Assistant fire Chief Raymond Tatman officially took over the position of Fire Chief for the Fire Department. He had a budget of $46,366 to aid citizens now numbering 13,820. During that year the Fire Department made 110 emergency runs and 154 life squad runs.

On January 6, 1962, the City of Fort Thomas suffered a sever loss when at 9:15 pm on the windy, cold, snowy night the high school caught fire. Chief Mueller was not on duty at the time because of an illness and Captain Reppetto was in charge of the operations. The intense blaze called for five fire departments and one hundred and eighteen firefighters to combat. Units from Dayton, Southgate, Highland Heights, and Newport answered the call to help Fort Thomas’ Highlands High School which was where the present junior high school is now located. The loss to the school building went over $500,000.00. The replacement building became the Highlands Middle School. And cost over $1,000,000.00. Over 25 firemen were injured or suffered from smoke inhalation that night. Earl Reppetto was acknowledged by city council for his rescue of Dayton firefighter Terry Senger.

In 1967, the members ofBeverlyAerial the fire department entered into membership with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Firefighter’s Union. The city was clearing the city building area for a new building. The Ahren’s Fox pumper went to the Highland Hills Park off of Mayfield Avenue, and the fire department went to the lower public works garages until the new city services building was finished.
In 1968, the fire department’s budget was, for the first time, over one hundred thousand dollars. The amount $111,797 was to operate the department now consisting of twelve regular and eighteen volunteer firemen. The department responded to 193 emergency runs and 363 life squad runs while covering a population of 17,031. The new city building opened with council chambers located on the second floor, the police department located on the south side of the building and the fire department located on the north side of the building. The city purchased a new ambulance that year for a cost of $9,039 to replace the 1957 ambulance. The new ambulance was a Pontiac. The Campbell County Firefighter’s Education Association, (C.C.F.E.A), purchased an air compressor and storage cylinders for breathing air. It was decided on and approved that the lower garage at Fort Thomas was to the location for the fill station for Campbell County. The Fort Thomas firefighters became operators and Earl Reppetto and Joe Radenheimer maintained the unit.

On April 6, 1970, Fire Chief Raymond Mueller retired from active service after serving a long and distinguished 41 years. He is currently the longest serving firefighter on record for the City of Fort Thomas. Earl Reppetto took over as Fire Chief of Fort Thomas. Also in 1970 the city and fire department members opened talks on physical fitness for all of the firefoldftfd6ighters.

On January 1, 1974, the first work agreement was signed between the City of Fort Thomas and the Fort Thomas I.A.F.F. Union Local 1928. The firefighters also signed on agreement with the city on overtime pay to avoid problems that other cities in the area were having.

In 1975, the members of the fire department enrolled in fire science classes at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights. The members seeking to further their education were Earl Reppetto, Jack Simon, Clyde Young, Jerry Sandfoss, Dennis Decker, Pete Teismann, Jack Huenefeld, Jim Kuhnhein, Tom Mozea, Ken Schaub and Rick Seyberth.

On Saturday, May 28, 1977, at nine o’clock in the evening a call was received for Fort Thomas units to assist Southgate with a possible fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club. This was an automatic move-up for Fort Thomas and was practice one week earlier. One of Fort Thomas Fire Department Volunteers, Bruce Rath, who was assigned to work with 604, left the pumpers work area and went up the hill to the rear of the building where he made national and international news with a picture showing him working on a female who was pulled from the fire earlier and left for one of the dead. He revived this person and aided in her removal from the fire scene. He also accompanied the patient to Saint Elizabeth hospital in Covington, where he stayed until after 5am, when he was seen walking away from a transport unit coming back up the drive.

5/16/97 KY beverly hills fire overall - Overall shot of Beverly Hills in flmes the night of May 28, 1977. David Kohl photo

5/16/97 KY Beverly hills fire overall – Overall shot of Beverly Hills in flames the night of May 28, 1977. David Kohl photo

Members of the Fort Thomas Fire Department who saw action on that night were: Chief Earl Reppetto, Captain Jack Simon, Captain Jerry Monroe, Lieutenant Clyde Young, Firefighters Joe Radenheimer, Mahlon Robb, Pete Teismann, Jerry Sandfoss, Jack Huenefeld, Rick Seyberth, Ken Schuab, Mike O’Day, Tom Mozea and Jim Kuhnhein.

In September of 1978, a foggy night, the fire department responded to a fire alarm call with 604 when a second fire was called in by a Dayton policeman driving out Route 8 and noticed a glow in the sky. Unit 603 and a converted army six by six responded to the second fire call that was at 339 Tower Hill Road in the city, the home of the Huenefeld family. Jack Huenefeld was a member of the fire department at the time and was away with his family at Morehead University watching a football game in which his brother was playing. The two-story frame was completely burned to the ground when the units arrived at the scene. Water tanker trucks from Melbourne and Camp Springs were called to help with the water problem.

In March of 1979, the Fort Thomas Fire Department responded to assist Silver Grove Volunteer Fire Department with a major fire at the Chessie System Railroad Yard’s ‘Round House’ on route 8. The roundhouse complex included three or four buildings with common walls. The Fort Thomas firefighters operated a large monitor nozzle and many hand lines to help control the blaze. One diesel locomotive and one steam locomotive called the “Chessie Steam Special” were destroyed along with the building. The steam locomotive, unofficially named the ‘Spirit of America’ because the engine pulled the United States Bicentennial train throughout the country, was being stored in this large building used to repair and turn around engines for trains in the yard. The loss exceeded one million dollars to buildings and content.Dayton Fire

In June of 1983, Fire Chief Earl Reppetto retired from the Fort Thomas Fire Department with over 24 years of service to the city. He had been the fire chief since 1970. The new fire chief came from the Louisville area. William Dieckman took over the 15 man paid and 10 man volunteer department the same month. He was previously a volunteer fire chief of Shelbyville, Kentucky.

In July of 1986, with a strong push from Union Local 1928, the first Advanced Life Support Squad in Campbell County was started in Fort Thomas. The unit had two paramedics riding per shift most of the time. The paramedics on the fire department were Jeff Dean, Rick Seyberth, Pete Tiesmann, Ken Clift, Dale Edmondson and Dale Cruze. All department emergency medical technicians received additional training as paramedic assistants.
On January 30, 1988, the Fort Thomas Fire Department responded to assist in a move-up to Dayton on a large apartment building fire and Sixth and O’Fallen avenues. Fort Thomas firefighters, making one of the deeper entries into the building, advanced a hose line into the second floor hall by way of the east wall entrance.



*Note: The Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan are on the General Services web page.

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