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Appendix 2: Carbarns, Shops, Power Houses, and Substations

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

Each of the LSE’s five predecessors built its own central operating complex consisting of a power house, car shop, and car storage facilities. All of these were taken over by the LSE in 1901, and all but one of them served the railway until its last days. Always economy-minded, the Lake Shore itself never built a new car shop of its own. In 1902 it planned a carhouse on Whittlesey Avenue in Norwalk, and after the Fremont barn was seriously damaged by fire on October 16, 1906, it announced that it would build a large new shop there. Neither materialized, and the company managed to spread various construction and repair functions among the old facilities.

Beginning in 1903, heavy repairs and new construction work were concentrated primarily at Sandusky and secondarily at Fremont; the other carhouses handled only storage, light repairs, and servicing. The five were:

Beach Park

Built by Lorain & Cleveland 1897; located at Stop 65 in Avon Lake. Brick carhouse 65.5´×200´, with 12´×12´ brick oil house. Carhouse included passenger facilities.

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14. The Equipment

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

“Mishmash” is the only appropriate word to describe the Lake Shore Electric’s original roster. When the company was formed on September 25, 1901, it inherited a mixed collection of rolling stock from its four predecessor companies — none of it really suitable for the type of operations its creators envisioned. In total there were 41 interurban passenger cars (“interurban” sometimes being rather loosely defined), 22 city streetcars, five box freight motors, four powered work cars, 33 work trailers, and three steam locomotives no less. Some of these cars dated to the pioneering days of interurban and street railway operations in the early 1890s and, although young in years, already were obsolescent if not completely obsolete. Only the former Toledo, Fremont & Norwalk’s 22 Barney & Smith cars of 1900–1901 were usable for long-distance interurban operations, but these were rather austere and, worse, were underpowered and thus slow. Nonetheless the new company had to rely on them until it could buy equipment specifically designed for its planned high-speed, deluxe services.

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13. Freight Services

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

Passengers were the Lake Shore Electric’s primary business, or so it originally thought. But after a belated start, the company established a substantial and far-flung freight operation which eventually overtook passengers in importance. Indeed, by the early 1930s freight appeared to be the key to whatever future the railway had. Describing it is more difficult, however. Unlike its passenger operations with their myriad timetable publications, the LSE’s freight services are only spottily documented; it was a complex business, some parts of which followed no fixed patterns.

First, some definitions are needed. Actually, “freight” on the LSE (and most other rail carriers) consisted of at least four disparate types of traffic lumped under one loose definition: (1) “express” or “package freight,” (2) less-than-carload freight, universally abbreviated as “LCL” by the rail lines, (3) forwarder or consolidator shipments, and (4) straight carload movements of several different types. To one degree or another each of these varieties involved different handling methods, rate scales, equipment, traffic patterns and economic characteristics. Often, too, their patterns of growth and decline varied from one another.

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12. City Operations

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

Although noted primarily as an interurban system, the Lake Shore Electric operated extensive local city routes in Lorain and Sandusky plus a single franchise-required service in Norwalk. Their traffic and economic characteristics varied enormously, from heavily burdened, industrially oriented lines to casual and folksy little Toonervilles with no visible means of support.

Sandusky’s city streetcar lines were a perennially vexing financial burden, but because its interurban services depended on city franchises the company could not walk away from them. Its problems stemmed partly from early competitive overbuilding and partly from the nature and development of the city. When its horsecars began running in 1883, Sandusky’s population was more than 16,000 and it was Ohio’s eighth largest city. But afterward the city attracted little new industry and experienced little growth. There was only an 8 percent population gain between 1890 and 1910, the period when most of the streetcar lines were built. By 1920 Sandusky ranked only 24th among Ohio cities. The lines built into the outlying areas never attracted new residential subdivisions as they surely would have if Sandusky had enjoyed the remarkable expansion of some other Lake Erie shoreline cities. As a result, much of the territory served by the city cars was always relatively unproductive.

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10. The Predecessors: 1883–1906

Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Indiana University Press ePub

The Lake Shore Electric’s family tree dated back to the electric railways’ equivalent of Pilgrim Father days and included some especially distinguished pioneers. Inevitably too, it was a complex assemblage of different personalities and lineages. At least ten different company names showed up at one time or another, but by the time the LSE was created in 1901 these had boiled down to four — the Lorain & Cleveland, the Toledo, Fremont & Norwalk, and two Sandusky-based companies, the Sandusky & Interurban and the Sandusky, Norwalk & Southern. A fifth, the Lorain Street Railway, joined the family in 1906.

Three of these had comparatively simple, straightforward histories, but the city of Sandusky seemed to spawn financial and corporate instability for its two railways — perhaps the result of too much competition in a stagnant and marginal market. Whatever the reasons, the Sandusky predecessors were both the oldest and the most complex.

Sandusky’s modest street railway system had its origin in the Sandusky Street Railway, a locally promoted horsecar line which was built primarily to connect its steamship piers and downtown area with the then-remote Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway station. The LS&MS main line was the city’s primary rail route, and originally had entered town from the east along the waterfront. In 1872, however, it was relocated a mile south of the city’s center, and reaching it became a hardship. The first solution was a horse-drawn omnibus line organized by Sandusky’s Gilcher brothers in 1882. But even by then competition was brewing; another group of local businessmen headed by Clark Rude had incorporated the Sandusky Street Railway on August 3, 1881.

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