Cover

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Title, Copyright Pages

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Maps

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pp. vii-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface and Dedication

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pp. xiii-xiv

The odyssey of this book has lasted longer than the legendary wanderings of Odysseus himself — longer, in fact, than the life of the Lake Shore Electric as an operating railway. It was, in effect, the lifetime project of two noted Cleveland railway historians, John A. Rehor and Willis A. McCaleb. Rehor is perhaps best known among railroad historians for his monumental history of the Nickel Plate, The Nickel Plate Story (Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wis., 1965) and his self-published Berkshire Era (1967); he was also a railroader, working various operating management...

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Introduction: The Lake Shore Electric—What It Was and Where It Went

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pp. xvii-xx

It never imposed much on the landscape and now has all but disappeared back into it. Drive west from Cleveland along the rim of Lake Erie to the old lake port of Sandusky, once a serious competitor of Cleveland and Toledo. Then head south to Norwalk, Ohio — another charming nineteenth-century town — and keep moving west on U.S. Route 20 toward Toledo, passing through more nineteenth-century main streets at places like Monroeville, Bellevue, and Fremont. If you are particularly perceptive, along the way you will spot bits of light grading alongside the roads or crossing them; you may spot pole lines marching across fields, and here and there some...

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Frederick W. Coen, 1872–1942: “Mister Lake Shore Electric”

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pp. xxi-xxii

The life of the Lake Shore Electric and the life of Frederick William Coen were one and the same. Fred Coen was an incorporator and an official of the railway from the day it began, effectively its chief executive from 1907 to the day rail service ended, and continued as head of the successor bus company until he retired in 1940. More than any single individual, he was responsible for the company’s prosperity during its good days and its survival in the bad ones. Coen came early to the electric railway business. In fact, he was there as a young man at the industry...

Part I: The Story

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1. Genesis: 1901–1903

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pp. 3-22

The year was 1901, the first year of the twentieth century. Ohio’s own William McKinley was in the White House and Victoria was Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and monarch of Britain’s other dominions beyond the seas — including Canada. Neither would survive the year — McKinley felled by an assassin’s bullet and Victoria of the more natural effects of age. She was 82, had reigned for 64 years, and had defined an entire age. And in Ohio, reigning over a wholly different empire — which also included Canada — were Henry A. Everett and Edward W. Moore...

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2. Putting It All Together: 1904–1907

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pp. 23-40

The year 1903 had been happily hectic — the receivership ended, the new high-speed Brill cars arrived, and Cleveland–Toledo limited services started. A brief breather was now necessary as President Warren Bicknell put the company’s house in more firm order while the banker committee watched over and the Everett-Moore syndicate waited to reassume full control. Thus the years 1904 and 1905 were comparatively quiescent, but they built toward a final expansive burst the next year. Unfortunately 1904 got off to a disorderly start with another rash of wrecks. In the space of a month, between January 4 and February 7, there were four separate mishaps which ran the gamut of collision classifications...

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INTERLUDE A: THE LSE VS. WINTER

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pp. 41-44

Snow and ice storms came with disagreeable regularity along Lake Erie’s south shore, and between November and April the Lake Shore Electric could usually count on using its small roster of sweepers to keep its city street trackage clear. Plows were attached to work motors for other sections of the line. Thanks to their efforts, the interurban was able to provide the first regular year-round transportation for many small communities in it...

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3. The Developing Years: 1908–1913

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pp. 45-60

If the Lake Shore Electric system was within a few hairs of its full physical growth in 1908, its peak years of long-distance services and high-capacity operations were just ahead. Within three years it would be innovating again with two long-distance interline services, as well as helping sponsor a new line to make one of these operations possible. It was a time when the Midwestern interurban industry was reaching full flower, too. As it expanded and matured, the industry was now more conscious of itself as an interconnected system instead of a collection of separate localized entities. Back in 1906 it formed the Central Electric Railway Association as a trade association, and in 1908 the Central Electric Traffic Association was created as a CERA...

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INTERLUDE B: THE LSE IN SUMMERTIME

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pp. 61-66

During the summers, hordes heading for Cedar Point and the numerous smaller beachfront parks, resorts, and summer camps crowded on the lse’s regular cars and excursion specials. These photos sample some of the bygone...

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4. The Great War: 1914–1918

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pp. 67-80

The summertime of the Lake Shore Electric’s life was like most summertimes — reasonably fruitful but full of annoying insects and turbulent thunderstorms. In the interurban’s case, the insects took the form of more automobiles and, in the cities of Sandusky and Lorain, “jitneys” — privately-owned, unregulated motor vehicles which operated over the streetcar routes stealing passengers. As for the storms of World War I, the LSE — like most interurbans — did not see much of the huge traffic surge which eventually paralyzed the steam railroads, but it did fully experience the material and fuel shortages, the wage and price inflation, the influenza epidemic...

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5. Not Quite Normalcy: 1919–1922

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pp. 81-88

When peace returned in 1919 the Lake Shore Electric faced a mixed but mostly sunny outlook. Entry into the general freight business came too late to contribute much for the war effort, but by the early 1920s that traffic was growing as fast as equipment, physical plant, and new interline arrangements permitted. For the first two years after the war, ridership, revenues and profits rose heartily; the profit growth was especially great. But the picture was darkening on its outer edges. The general postwar business boom masked some subtle signs of trouble which were noticeable only in certain special types of business. The interurban’s managers ...

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6. A Snapshot at the Summit: The Lake Shore Electric in 1923

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pp. 89-98

True to the perverse cycles of corporate fortunes, the Lake Shore Electric reached the zenith of its physical growth in 1923, three years after its traffic and income had peaked and had begun to decline. That year marked its last line acquisition when, on November 5, its Lorain Street Railroad subsidiary picked up the bankrupt Cleveland Southwestern’s Oberlin Avenue streetcar line in Lorain. At that time too, the system still operated all its original lines including several weaklings it would soon shed. Including its various subsidiaries, the company’s route mileage totaled almost 210 miles. Later it would add its Sandusky cutoff, but by then several branches and city lines were gone, so the system never again would be as large or as active. Thus late ...

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7. Transition: 1923–1929

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pp. 99-118

True to the perverse cycles of corporate fortunes, the Lake Shore Electric reached the zenith of its physical growth in 1923, three years after its traffic and income had peaked and had begun to decline. That year marked its last line acquisition when, on November 5, its Lorain Street Railroad subsidiary picked up the bankrupt Cleveland Southwestern’s Oberlin Avenue streetcar line in Lorain. At that time too, the system still operated all its original lines including several weaklings it would soon shed. Including its various subsidiaries, the company’s route mileage totaled almost 210 miles. Later it would add its Sandusky cutoff, but by then several branches and city lines were gone, so the system never again would be as large or as active. Thus late ...

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8. The End of the Line: 1930–1938

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pp. 119-140

The stock market had taken a dive, to be sure, but most people believed it was only a temporary hiccup — perhaps a little worse than in 1921, but nothing for serious concern. Even so, interurban lines like the Lake Shore had much to worry about. On January 18, 1930, Fred Coen wrote his mysterious master, “A. Hayes,” and began: The time is not far distant when the question of the future policy to be followed in regard to the Lake Shore Electric must be determined. In other words, whether this railway can be rejuvenated and rebuilt so that it would be the same as an electrified steam railroad and made a profitable institution or whether it is to be abandoned, or partially abandoned, and recover therefrom as much as possible in the way of ...

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9. Epilogue: The Afterlife

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pp. 141-148

One certainty during the LSE’s last several years was that finality was a flexible concept. Nothing seemed to end cleanly or exactly as planned. All Lake Shore Electric revenue services ceased May 15, 1938 — or May 25, or May 30, depending on one’s preference. But even afterward, genuine LSE trains, with LSE crews, ran for another two years. Unlike many defunct interurban lines, the LSE was not turned over to commercial scrappers. Fred Coen remained very much on the scene, now managing the Lake Shore Coach Company and still responsible for the deceased but still-intact railway. Apparently under no pressure...

Part II: The Origins

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10. The Predecessors: 1883–1906

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pp. 151-176

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...

Part III: The Operations

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11. Passenger Services

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pp. 179-194

The historical text of this book broadly described the Lake Shore Electric’s interurban services. But for those more specifically interested in the subject, this chapter takes a more detailed look at these schedule and general service patterns. Even so, it should be remembered that the LSE’s passenger schedules were often adjusted for traffic peaks, valleys, and shifts in riding patterns — sometimes on an ad hoc basis. This was especially so in the summer, when hordes would head for Cedar Point and the numerous parks and resort communities lining Lake Erie’s shore...

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12. City Operations

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pp. 195-208

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...

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13. Freight Services

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pp. 209-230

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...

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INTERLUDE C: CLEVELAND TO TOLEDO ON THE LSE

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pp. 231-238

A Brief Geographic Tour of the Line

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14. The Equipment

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pp. 239-268

“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...

Appendix 1: Equipment Rosters

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pp. 269-280

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

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pp. 281-290

Bibliography

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pp. 291-292

Index

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pp. 293-298