Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bridge Over Beaver Creek – Then & Now

Looking south from approximately where West Erie Avenue is today. 
The tracks of the Lake Shore Electric Railway are seen in the foreground.
Continuing my ongoing (and seemingly endless) focus on Old Lake Road…

Circle marks the spot where Old Lake Road bridge
over Beaver Creek was located
Here's a 1907 postcard (above) courtesy of Drew Penfield and his Lake Shore Rail Maps website showing how Lake Road used to cross Beaver Creek. It's hard to imagine today how the road jogged down into what is now Copper Kettle Marina to cross this bridge.

Apparently it was quite a menace to motorists.

On August 27, 1930, the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald reported, "Commissioners plan to meet with the state highway department sometime in September in an effort to get state aid for a 3-ply W. Lake-rd program. This improvement to be requested includes widening of the highway between Lorain and Vermilion, removal of the dangerous curve and bridge at Beaver Park, and elimination of the diagonal crossing hazard by construction of an overhead bridge.

On December 14, 1931, a $300,000 road improvement program for Lorain County for 1932 was announced by State Highway Director O. W. Merrill which included "completion of the Lake road between Lorain and Vermilion." As the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald reported that day, "The Lake road project is to be completed at an estimated cost of $110,000, which includes construction of a bridge across Beaver Creek. The road already has been reconstructed from Lorain westward to Oak Point and from Vermilion eastward to Kilbane's camp. Next year the road will be completed between these two points, a stretch of 3.04 miles.

The new stretch of Lake Road would basically follow the route of the interurban. As the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald reported on June 10, 1933, "Under the plans of the highway department, the new roadway will leave the present Lake-rd at Beaver Park bridge and follow the Lake Shore Electric Co. tracks for a two mile course. It added, "The new road will strike the present roadway again at the Claus' hill, two miles distant west from the bridge. The section of highway laying between the two points will be abandoned."

Today, of course, that abandoned section is known as Old Lake Road.

State Highway Director O. W. Merrill gave the order to go ahead with the project to improve Lake Road west of Lorain on June 12, 1933. As the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald reported, "The order also permits the state department to go ahead with construction of a new bridge over the Beaver creek to replace the present narrow, antiquated structure which has been one of the biggest menaces to auto traffic on the Lake-rd for more than a score of years.

On August 14, 1933, the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald reported, "Work has started and is well progressed on a new bridge at Beaver creek and a two mile unimproved stretch in the highway to the west of the creek. Attempts at settlement of right of way disputes that are holding up widening and repaving of two shorter sections are being made."

This was a reference to Henry B. Claus and a few other landowners that included M. F. and William Peer, Kishman Beach Land Co., Mrs. Hattie Braun and Jacob Baumhardt.

By August 22, 1933, Mrs. Braun was the one holdout. As the paper reported, "It was definitely learned that the state has refused to pay Mrs. Braun the $2,850 she asks as damages for the removal of several century-old shade trees which align the front of her property. They are in the line of the highway improvement proposed by the state."

The article also noted, "At present a section of Lake-rd lying between Beaver park and Claus' hill is being relocated and will be completed in the next 60 days."

Although I couldn't duplicate the vista shown on the 1907 postcard, here's a view from a slightly closer angle, showing where the long-gone bridge was located over Beaver Creek. (Four-lane West Erie Avenue, a guard rail, and overgrown trees and brush all conspire to make the 1907 view impossible.)

The view on Monday night
You can see a bridge abutment (painted grey) at the left hand side of the photo.

Here's the obligatory aerial view.

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