Monday, January 25, 2016

E. 31st Street Bridge Revisited Part 1

Shortly after my post last week on the E. 31st Street Bridge, regular reader and contributor Rick Kurish made me aware of the photo at left in Dr. Charles Herdendorf’s Arcadia Images of America Sheffield Village book.

The 1913 photo showed the construction of the 800-foot causeway which leads to the bridge. In the photo, the workers are shown building a huge retention wall to help stabilize the causeway. The view is looking west.

As Rick explained in his email, "I was amazed at the size of the causeway, which is undoubtedly still supporting today’s approach to the 31st Street bridge. I'm guessing the free fill to be supplied by the Steel Plant mentioned in the article made up at least a part of the causeway.”

I was wondering what the train was doing in the photo, and asked historian and archivist Dennis Lamont if he could explain. He wrote, "The train you see is the steel plant dumping slag. The whole embankment was a slag dump with a temporary track laid on it.  When the slag got up the level they wanted, they would move the track over and dump some more. When they were done filling where the roadway was to go, they had a fill that was never going to move. When they were done, they took the track up and dumped elsewhere. They filled up the whole east end of the plant.”

It’s strange realizing that the approach to the E. 31st Street Bridge from E. River Road is built on top of a slag dump. And here I thought it was a country road.

I also asked Dennis what bridge was casting a shadow on the causeway in the 1913 photo. Dennis explained that it was used by the Avon Beach and Southern (AB&S) division, a spur of the Lake Shore Electric Railway.

The fascinating history of the AB&S is much too complicated a story to try and feature here, so be sure to visit the Lake Shore Rail Maps website created by Drew Penfield. This page explains the whole story very clearly, and how the AB&S related to South Lorain. The website features some amazing archival photos, as well as newer shots that reveal modern traces of the old abandoned line.

Next: E. 31st Street Bridge Photos from this past weekend

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