Interurban in Moreland Hills


The empire of the Eastern Ohio Traction system was the most picturesque of the interurban lines in Northern Ohio.  They were financially weak trolleys, running into sparse settled country, and the lack of revenue on the lines in operation snuffed out dreams of elaborate extensions into northeastern Ohio and the manufacturing areas of the Mahoning River Valley.                             InterurbanMap

 The company  had two divisions, the Maple Leaf Line via Mayfield Road to Gates Mills, Chardon, Burton and Middlefield, with a wilderness junction far from civilization.  Another rolled along Kinsman Road to Chagrin Falls, and for years operated a weak division to Hiram and Garretsville.  This division had a branch to Middlefield from another forlorn junction, and Middlefield had the distinction of being a town of several hundred persons with two interurban railroads leading to Cleveland.  And in addition—a large Amish population that still held to horse-and-buggy travel, and did not relish the use of electricity.

The company originated with the Chagrin Falls line.  The Cuyahoga Suburban Railway was chartered December 3. 1895 to build a line from Cleveland to Chagrin Falls and thence on the Kinsman or Meadville, Pa.  On December 18, 1895 it was incorporated as the Cleveland & Chagrin Falls Electric Railway Col, and the first car wandered between the two points on May 1, 1887.

 Flushed with success in building a railroad through the Chagrin Valley, officials chartered the Chagrin Falls & Eastern Railway on May 1, 1897 to build on to Garretsville and Leavittsburg where a Youngstown connection could be made.  By 1902 cars reached Hiram, and its famous college, and in 1903 trolleys were in Garretsville.

 The Chagrin Falls line started with five deck roof city-type cars built by Kuhlman in Cleveland, including a combine for light freight.  The Cleveland & Eastern had a more imposing fleet, including six trolleys named for on-line communities (Hamben, Mayfield, Chester, Munson, Chardon, Burton.)  These names were switched about to include other places as cars were repainted.

The line held out a magical lure to Clevelanders.  They flocked on the cars weekends.  Resorts sprung up along the rails.  Cleveland sightseers were commonplace on the sidewalks of Chagrin Falls on Sunday afternoons.  The Falls Hotel hung out a sign welcoming trolley parties for weekends.

In this era R. H. Derrah of Boston, MA made a trolley trip from Port Heron, MI to New England.  In Cleveland he boarded an Eastern Ohio car for the side trip to Chagrin Falls and Garretsville.  “It is one of the most fascinating trips I have yet taken.”  He wrote, “stretches of fertile farm lands are immediately followed by perfect wilderness affording grand opportunities for hunting, while along the banks of the Chagrin River, over which the car passes, may be seen the angler eagerly waiting his prey.  A short distance from Chagrin Falls one is carried through a deep raving forming a perfect horseshoe after which the glen is properly named.”  (Hiram House Camp)

The situation in the C& E territory was tough and rugged when the line came through.  It was virtually impossible to travel across the Chagrin Valley throughout the winter and spring until the highways fried out.  Further east, farmers routed produce to the Youngstown and Pittsburgh markets.  Paved roads, or packed dirt, terminated at Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights and an independent plank road company had a raftlike log road from this point to the brink of the Chagrin Valley.  It cost rolls to use this privately built enterprise.

On February 14, 1904 a Garretsville to Cleveland car broke loose atop the east hill in Chagrin Falls, raced wildly through the center of Town, and overturned at Washington and Walnut Streets, injuring 14 people.

Freight tonnage by 1910 exceeded all other Cleveland interurbans combined.  Milk was the top item moved, and the Telling-Belle-Vernon Co. located a large dairy farm at Novelty, Ohio, with siding from CY&E.  Snow plows were pressed into summer duty to move freight.  Freight motors pulled heavy coal cars from Chardon to the high-chimneyed Gates Mills power plant, and likewise, coal from the Wheeling & Lake Erie interchange in Chagrin Falls was shunted to the powerhouse just west of town.  Over 3,000 gallons of milk daily moved into Cleveland over the CY&E.

The line was reorganized again in 1910.  The Chagrin Falls Division became the Cleveland Youngstown & Eastern on February 28 after a foreclosure sale.  The Gates Mills division went under the bankruptcy hammer on June 10 and became the Cleveland & Eastern again.  Both companies, however, emerged with the same management.

The southern holding, the Cleveland, Youngstown & Eastern, was deep in a financial morass.  I decided to abandon the entire line from Chagrin Falls to Garretsville.  This line accounted for about 20 percent of the business, although it included 26 miles of the route’s 44 miles.  Cars also encountered a severe power shortage between Hiram and Garretsville.

As the last car fought snow in a holdiay-festooned countryside on December 27, 1914, such stations as the Troy, Steeles, South Newberry, Burton, Harveys, and Fair Grounds lost their identification forever.  Ir was the first major interurban abandonment in the United States., and the harbinger of the interurban industry’s failure.

The line was rechristened the Cleveland and Chagrin Falls, and it followed that abbreviated route until 1922 when the company no longer had money to pay the Cleveland Railway Company track rent.  The line, using secondhand cars from the Gates Mills road, was terminated at the end of the Shaker Rapid at Moreland Boulevard and Lynnnfield Road in Shaker Heights.  A temporary track was strung across an open field to make this transfer possible, and the line actually became a true rapid transit to the downtown area.  But autos were prevalent, deficits were rising, and abandonment came March 31, 1925.

Schedules Fared and Regulations

In 1912 there were w trains per day for the 1 1/2 hour 18 mile journey from Cleveland to Chagrin Falls.  Those passengers continuing to Garretsville traveled for 3 hours and covered 44 miles.

Passengers handled their own baggage.  150 lbs. Of personal baggage packed in trunks or valises were checked free.  The fare was 25 cents or more.  Baggage in excess of 150 lbs. incurred a charge of 15 cents.  Children under nine years with and adult rode for free with no half fares for older children.  Dogs rode for 25 cents and were to be muzzled.  Bicycles were checked as baggage and at the owner’s risk.

Routes and Stops

The Chagrin Falls line left Cleveland via Kinsman Road using tracks of the Kinsman car line.  Stop 1 was at E. 116th Street. Stop 10 was at Lee Road.  Stop 17 was at Warrensville Center Road with the tracks along the south side.  The Highland Park Cemetery Stop 18 had a spur for funeral cars.  At Stop 21 east of Brandon Road, connection was made with a city double-ended car running through woods on a right-of-way to the Warrensville Sanitarium.   At what is now Lander Circle, the line veered southeast with the right-of-way crossing Chagrin Road just beyond Lander Circle.

The tracks dipped down to the Wiley creek bed running behind the Orange Schools.  In the 1890s John Stoneman built an amusement park called Crystal Lake in the area of Brady Middle School.  Here a large lake was created by building a earthen dam.  The line continued behind Orange High School with a substation just to the ease  at Stop 19A.  Its ruins can still be seen.  The line crosses SOM Center Road at the bottom of SOM Center hill where the Horseshoe Glen Stop 30 was located.  Stop 31 was at the bottom and east of SOM Center..

Stop 31 1/2 was in the valley beneath Strawberry Lane.  Stop 32 was beneath Mill Creak Lane.  Stop 33 was beneath Mill Hollow.  Stop 34 was in the valley 2000 feet east of Stop 33.  Quarry Stop 35 was on Jackson Road near Giles.  Stop 36 was at the siding north Miles Road.  Stop 37 was at Miles and Chagrin River Road where it passed the Chagrin Falls car barns.  Here the line turns east and runs on the south side of Miles and Oakwood.  Stop 39 was at Miles and Hillside.  Stop 39A was at the car barn and power station site just west of the Chagrin River.  Stop 40 was at Miles and Solon Roads, across the bridge .  Stop 41 was at Solon and Maple road.  This was the highest stop number.  The line continued into Chagrin Falls via Maple, Walnut and Washington Streets to wye 1 at Washington and Main.  It then went on to Garretsville.


Interurban in Cleveland

Northern Ohio’s Interurbans and Rapid Transit Railways by Harry and Liz Christiansen, 1965   LC No. 82-90902.

Village of Moreland Hills, Birthplace of the twentieth U.S. President James A. Garfield.  Moreland Hills Bicentennial committee, 1976.

 1  A wye is a Y shaped track arrangement for reversing the direction of trains.

Moreland Hills Historical Society, Sandra Cobb