Monday, July 13, 2015

Interurban Car on Old Lake Road

Courtesy Lorain Historical Society
You may have noticed that I've featured this 1950s aerial photo of Old Lake Road quite a few times on the blog in the last few weeks.

Well, I'm not quite done with it yet.

Historian and archivist Dennis Lamont and Lake Shore Rail Maps Webmaster Drew Penfield made me aware of something in the photo that I never would have known was there.

Dennis and Drew are both experts on the Lake Shore Electric Railway, the interurban line that provided service between Cleveland and Toledo. Part of their expertise includes knowing what happened to the various numbered streetcars that were sold off once the interurban system was dissolved in 1938. Some of these retired cars were repurposed as houses, cottages, diners and storage sheds.

One LSE car of particular local interest was No. 155, manufactured by the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company of Niles, Ohio. As Drew notes on his Lake Shore Rail Maps website, Niles coach 155 "served an unspecified purpose on the farm of William Miller, at the west end of Old Lake Road, west of Oak Point."

Here's a photo of No. 155 in retirement, courtesy of Dennis Lamont.

Apparently all that was known about the photo was that it was taken in 1939 "at a farm west of Lorain."
Well, as you probably guessed by now, Dennis and Drew found No. 155 right in the vintage aerial photo. As Dennis wrote, "If you take a close look at the farm right down the old road from the gas station, Drew and I think this was the place. It's all gone now, since the power plant sits there now."
And here it is (below). The car is the long grey thing right next to the road.
When I checked the city directories for Old Lake Road, sure enough, in the 1959 directory there was a listing with the name Miller for that portion of the road (below). I don't know if it's a coincidence or not.
The three individual names were cross-referenced elsewhere in the directory as living in "apartments," so apparently the collection of buildings in addition to No. 155 functioned as a sort of apartment complex.
In addition to Drew's Lake Shore Rail Maps website, another great resource (that also features photos from Dennis Lamont's archives) is Randall Hicks' Hicks Car Works blog. Here's the link to his page about the Lake Shore Electric that provides a history of the Niles cars. It also features a photo of No. 155 (below) passing its twin car in Norwalk.
Car No. 155 is on the right
(Photo courtesy of Randall Hicks)
The photo shows the rear of 155, but since it is identical to car 158, you can compare 158 to the photo of 155 in retirement on Old Lake Road.

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