Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Cedar Point Chaussee vs. Causeway Part 1

While blogging about Cedar Point last week, I forgot to mention that a big part of going there was (and still is) deciding on the best route. Did your family take the Causeway across Sandusky Bay? Or did your family prefer the Chaussee?

If these two terms are a bit confusing, or if you get them mixed up like my family, read on for an explanation as well as a bit of history. (The following is an abridged version of an article I wrote for The Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette, and the material appears here courtesy of that publication.)

Since Cedar Point is on a peninsula, originally the only way to get to it was by steamship. To solve this access problem, in 1911 it was announced that a road would be constructed. Cedar Point general manager George A. Boeckling realized that building a road to cater to the increasingly popular automobiles would be the key to the park’s continued growth and success.

Work began on the road in 1913, and construction across the marsh was costly and difficult. When the two lane concrete highway was finished, it ran one mile north to the lake and then six miles west along the length of the peninsula to the park.
The completed road was widely regarded as an engineering marvel, and was one of the first concrete roads built in Ohio. The new highway was even given a special name, “The Chaussee,” which is a French word for a paved road. Brick pillars and iron gates gave the Chaussee entrance a handsome appearance.
The Chaussee opened on July 19, 1914 and was an immediate hit. On the following day, the Sandusky Register reported that, “More than 500 automobiles traveled the new Cedar Point Chausee [sic] or automobile roadway from a point near Rye Beach where it connects with the Cleveland–Sandusky road, designated as Main Market Road No. 13, to Cedar Point.  At 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon the number of autos that had passed through the gate was 352. At the same hour there were so many machines parked at the end of the Cedar Point midway that the men in charge of the improvised garage said they didn’t know what they would do if any more came.”
The newspaper article also stated, “The auto roadway impressed those who drove over it as one of the most remarkable pieces of construction work in this or any other country. When the fact that it was constructed through the stretches of bog and marsh land bordering on either side was taken into consideration, the transformation seems little less than miraculous.”
In 1917, a spring storm destroyed much of the eastern end of the Chaussee and subsequent storms did even more damage. Eventually the 1914 entrance was abandoned, and a new one leading to the now-shortened peninsula road was constructed further west on Cleveland Road. It opened in 1920.
Here is a photograph of that newer, 1920 alignment courtesy of the Cedar Point Images of America book.
Here is a later postcard view of the entrance to the Chaussee.
By the 1950’s, Cedar Point recognized that a new road was needed to relieve traffic jams on the crowded Chaussee. 

Next: The birth of the Causeway and the 1914 Chaussee entrance today

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We always take the Chaussee. The view is great and the architecture is always pleasant and interesting to look at.

John Kovacs