Monday, August 29, 2011

Do You Remember? The Interurban Line and Willoughbeach Park

April 25, 1895 was the day that the Cleveland Painesville and Eastern Railroad became chartered.  The first train car went into service on July 1, 1896.  Another line along Lakeshore and Vine Street followed in 1898.  From the late 1800's through 1926 this railway line connected Painesville to Cleveland.  At one point the C.P. & E. headquarters and main terminal were located in downtown Willoughby.  Stop 43 was near Erie Street and Glenn.  A car barn was nearby.  The Shoreline created in 1898 had ten stops on its route.  Local landowners Edward Moore and Henry Everett had properties on the north side of the railroad.  The men established Willoughbeach Park on this land.  From this site came an amusement park in the summer of 1898.

Willoughbeach Amusement Park had a dance hall, pavillion, baseball fields, beach, campgrounds and many additional amenities.  The C.P. & E. became the main transportation source to this area resort.  By 1910, annual church and business picnics were booked at the park.  Willoughbeach thrived.  A 25 cent round trip ticket made the amusement park an early equal to Geauga Lake Park, Euclid Beach Park and Cedar Point.  A rollercoaster was added to the park in 1925.

May 1926 proved to be the date in history that led to the eventual demise of Willoughbeach Amusement Park.  The C.P.&E. ended services that month.  It seems the Cleveland 'General' and other auto brands expanded the reach of travelers to more distant amusements and recreational possibilities.  The beach and camping grounds at Willoughbeach remained open into the late 1930's before becoming a footnote in the history of Willowick.  On your next trip down Lakeshore Blvd., try to imagine an era of railroad lines, beachfront resorts, summer cottages and a northcoast shoreline void of residential homes.

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