Monday, April 6, 2015

Interurban Railway Changes Lake County Forever

The year was 1896 and from Detroit to Buffalo and as far south as Wheeling a new system of transportation was impacting the communities far and wide.  In Northern Ohio and specifically in Lake County these changes would influence our county footprint forever.  The first electric railway system developed in 1896 ran from Cleveland to Painesville.  Shortly thereafter it stretched into Ashtabula and in 1910 beyond Buffalo.  The C.P.&E. (Cleveland,Painesville and Eastern RR) and the C.P.&A. (Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula RR) were their official names.  Their hub was located in a depot in downtown Willoughby.  Also located at the depot/barn hub was an electric generating plant.  This railway syndicate was conceived, developed and operated by two local gentlemen Edward Moore and Henry Everett.  In time this partnership added the LSE line (Lake Shore Electric) to their venture.  The year was 1901 and the routes now covered Cleveland to Toledo and spanned passenger lines to Willoughbeach, Fairport and Painesville.  The main line ran from Public Square to Painesville.  Stops 40-49-55-89 traversed Lake County.

The impact of Moore and Everett's syndicate of electric railways was far reaching in many ways.  First farmers from Lake and Ashtabula counties now had a means to move their produce more economically to Cleveland. Conversely, consumers now had access to downtown Cleveland and the shops located in the heart of the city.  Secondly, the C.P.&E. line allowed the beginnings of the 'country estates' era in Lake County.  The Halle Farm, Couallenby, Rockefeller Estate, Hanna Estate and Mooreland Mansion are just a few famous names from our past.  Third electricity came to Lake County due to the interurban.  Homes in Willoughby, Mentor, Madison and such now had low cost power as a reality. 

Some Interurban Trivia -
Willoughbeach (Lakeshore in Willowick) and Euclid Beach Park tourism and amusement seekers used the interurban daily.
The last numbered stop was Park Place in Painesville - number 89.
Rockefeller and Moore both had private interurban lines on their properties.
Gavi's catering in Willoughby now occupies the old electric plant.
The old barn and hub depot is now occupied by Willoughby Brewing Co.-stop #40.
The James A. Garfield residence had a stop - number 55.
The interurban railway line changed an 8-hour carriage trip to an hour.
The Little Mountain Estates of the 1800's gave way to summer farms for the wealthy.

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