Monday, February 24, 2014

Remarkable Lake County: US Route 20

In 1925 the Joint Board of Interstate Highways designated with a '0' a major east-west transcontinental road.  That route was US 20.  Officially declared a federal highway in 1926, US Route 20 became the most important east-west terminus.  Although not continuous, it is the longest road in the US spanning nearly 3365 miles total.  US Route 20 has its origins in Boston, Massachusetts and ends in Newport, Oregon.  It passes thru three major American cities - Boston, Cleveland, and Chicago.  Other well known names on this historic route include Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo NY, and Erie Pennsylvania.

US Route 20 remains mostly intact to this day.  In Ohio, one can start east of Conneaut and travel the roadway to Indiana.  Route 20 is known locally as Mentor Avenue from Painesville to Willoughby, Euclid Avenue into downtown Cleveland, Clifton Blvd into the west side and Center Ridge Road on the far west side of N.E. Ohio.  Other historic names associated with US Route 20 include the Yellowstone Trail, Old Mass Pike, Buffalo Stage Road, and Lake Avenue in the greater Chicago area.

A book release, the third in a series occurred in September 2013.  The title of Michael J. Till's most recent book is 'Along Ohio's Historic Route 20'.  The author has traveled the entire route and gathered pictorial images thru vintage postcards and archival images to record this important piece of Ohio transportation history.  It would be hard to find anyone residing in Lake County who has never driven on Route 20 either behind the wheel or as a passenger.  Till's book pays tribute to another hidden gem in our county's history and is well worth the cost as an addition to your ideal bookshelf.

source-    excerpts from Michael J. Till's three books on US Route 20

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wickliffe's Storied Family Names

The 'Gilded Age' was an era in American history that for the most part spanned the years 1870-1929.  It marked a period of history that saw unprecedented wealth, rapid industrialization, and a social era far above the previous norms.  The 'Gilded Age' of Cleveland is generally said to have begun in 1875 and ended around 1929.  While Cleveland's Gilded Age rivaled any other city of its day and its Millionaire's Row equaled any other of the time, one city in Lake County is oft forgotten in these conversations.  Wickliffe, founded in 1916 was home to some of the era's biggest names.  The estates of Rockefeller, Corrigan, Squire, Coulby and McKinney still merit mention today as you travel the roads of Wickliffe and Lake County.  Below is but a brief synopsis of these storied Wickliffe families.

Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller -  Wickliffe High School and the BOE building (former Rockefeller carriage house) are part of the farm property once called home by Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller.  Most famous as a part of his brothers Standard Oil Company, a disagreement led him to leave the company and pursue other business advantures.  Rockefeller did partner with fellow Wickliffe resident James Corrigan on a mine property near Lake Superior.

Harry C. Coulby - 'Coulallenby' was started in 1911 and completed in 1913.  A terra cottage exterior, wrought iron fence, stone pillars, round foyer, and Tiffany skylight were just a few features of this 54 acre family estate.  Coulby achieved his fortunes on the lakes.  Forming the Interlake Shipping Company in the early 1900's, part of the former Pickands, Mather Company,est. 1883 - Coulby could view his ships passing by from his second floor bedroom windows.  Today the estate serves as Wickliffe's City Hall, a position Coulby himself held.  The grounds are part of the city recreation center and parks.

Fergus B. Squire - An executive of Standard Oil Company and former mayor of Wickliffe, Squire is most remembered for a 525 acre property in Willoughby Hills known as Squire's Castle.  The gatehouse and its story are well known- often mentioned tales by locals and need not be repeated here.  Squire left public life in 1909 and called his Wickliffe estate Cobblestone Garth.  Modified over the years, the stately home with a distinctive lighthouse structure still remains for passer-bys.

Price MCKinney - Eleven acres on the northwest corner of Rt. 84 and the Bishop Road spur on Euclid Avenue were the former site of this notable estate.  Today Borromeo Seminary and Telshe Yeshiva occupy the site.  Mc Kinney was a partner with James Corrigan in the 'steel mill' industry.  Upon Corrigan's death in 1908, McKinney took over the business.  Internal strife led to him losing control of the company to Corrigan's son.  The steel mill in time became Republic Steel.  McKinney committed suicide in 1925.

James Corrigan -  Corrigan and his wife Laura Mae led interesting lives in the 'Gilded Age'.  Laura Mae will be featured in a separate blog in 2014.  Corrigan partnered with F. Rockefeller in a mining adventure.  Corrigan was also business partners with McKinney in the steel industry of the day.  The Corrigan estate is now the site of Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.

As you travel the roadways of Lake County, if you find yourself on Rt. 84 in Wickliffe there is much to see from our 'Gilded Age.'