In the years leading up to the building of Hamilton's first inclined railway up Hamilton Mountain, there were a few proposals for incline railways that didn't get off the ground.
The earliest known proposal for an incline railway was made in February of 1881. The incline was to be built next to James St, modelled off of the existing inclined railway in Cincinnati. However no names were ever associated with the proposal and it quickly faded away.
Unlike the proposals for a more standard incline Railway, in July 1884 came a proposal for a mountain elevator. As part of large mountain park proposal a 120 ft stone tower would be built next to the escarpment about halfway up in the vicinity of what is now West 5th St, with the top of the tower level with the mountain brow and connected by an iron bridge. The tower would hold an elevator with a capacity of eight people. Apparently the stock books were opened on July 21 with 4000 shares at $5 each, but it is unknown if there were any takers.
This proposal was the last one made before the construction of the James Street Incline. Hiram Broadbent and a group of Cincinnati investors proposed to begin construction of an incline by the spring of 1889. The Hamilton Spectator sarcastically called this 'the 113th attempt to build an incline up the mountain'. While nothing came of this proposal, it would be folded into the James Street Incline project, and Broadbent would go on to become one of the initial investors in the James St Incline.
"A New Scheme - Proposed Incline Railway up the Mountain" February 5, 1881, pg 4