Friday, July 17, 2015

Beaver Creek Becomes Battle Creek – May 1953

Two days ago, I posted a 1969 Lorain Journal article about Dr. Roy Schaeffer and his development of Beaver Park beginning with his dredging of the creek. The article made a brief mention of a controversy involving Schaeffer and some competitors who "benefitted from his work in opening the river" that ended up in court.

Here's a well-written article by Robert Sanders that appeared in the Journal on May 27, 1953 that explains the whole unfortunate situation. It has a slight bias and I present it here strictly for historical purposes.

Court Ponders Beaver Creek Fence Case As Dockman Joseph Sisco Awaits Decision
Must Prove Creek Is Navigable

A man can do a lot of thinking while fishing. Take Joseph Sisco, for instance.

He's doing a lot of bobber-watching these days. It's about all he can do now that his boat dockage business is temporarily halted. Just fish and think.

Sisco is one of three persons who have filed injunction actions in common pleas court following the erection of two chicken wire fences across Beaver Creek just south of Routes 2 and 6 west of Lorain by Drs. Roy and William Schaeffer.

Ducks Penned
The Schaeffers up to now have claimed the fences are penning in ducks. Sisco, who has been operating boat dockage facilities a half mile upstream for 14 years and Paul Paghi and Maynard Coleman, who together, have constructed a new slip near the "duck pen," claim the Schaeffers are just out to ruin their business.

The Schaeffers have also filed an injunction. The hearing, which started May 15, has been continued to next Tuesday. Judge John Pincura is expected to make a decision by that time.

Meanwhile, Sisco will sit and fish and think. He will think of 1938 when he first leased seven acres of land and started the grueling job of establishing a going business.

Moved Earth
He will think of the mountains of earth he had to move by hand and of the 23 catwalks he has constructed during his years on the creek. He will think also of how this year was going to be the best ever because of $900 he spent on improvements last fall. Business was going to hit an all-time high of around $3,000.

He will think of the jungle-like growth he had to hack through to build the dock facilities and a comfortable home and of that happy day in 1943 when he and his wife, Ann, purchased the land when they realized their business was a modest, but growing, success.

Sisco will also think back to that day last summer when he says William Schaeffer told him he would have to pay $5 per boat in order to go through his property.

Cut Dockage
Sisco is more hurt than mad at Schaeffer who yesterday admitted to newsmen that the real reason for erecting the wire fence is that Sisco, Paghi and Coleman were going to cut dockage rates.

"We've always charged a minimum of $25 per boat. They were going to cut my price $5." When asked if he had ever asked $5 per boat from Sisco, Schaeffer said, "I think $7 is a much more fair price."

Schaeffer pointed out that "it's costing me $1,800 to dredge the harbor this year. Those guys upstream aren't spending any money at all. Why should they be allowed to go through my harbor?

The Schaeffers have facilities for 400 boats. It costs $25 to moor a ship during the summer season providing the boat does not exceed 15 feet. After that, it's $3 per foot. Largest boat utilizing dock facilities there is a 38 foot craft whose bill for the year would come to $114 including winter storage.

"Too Bad"
The retired Dr. Schaeffer, who is a retired dentist, estimates his property holdings, which include 23 acres, a restaurant-bar called "The Beaver House," and a marine store, to be worth $500,000.

"It's too bad about those fellows upstream," he muses. "Money certainly is the root of all evil."

What the whole case boils down to is whether or not Beaver Creek is navigable. If it is then Sisko, Coleman and Paghi win and the fence comes down. If it isn't then Schaeffer will be allowed to keep the fence up.

Meanwhile, Sisco can only sit and fish and think.


Anonymous said...

What was the out come of the suite?

Dan Brady said...

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sisco and Coleman. It decided that the creek was navigable, reasoning that Sisco had "operated his boat rental business for 14 years until stopped by the cables and fence constructed across the stream by the defendants."