Lorain Road was the main thoroughfare running east and
west through Old Rockport Township. It seems to have been, and
still is, referred to as Lorain Road, however its official name was
apparently Lorain Street until West Park was annexed by Cleveland in
1923. A 1905 city ordinance required that east-west streets in
Cleveland be named Avenue so Lorain Avenue became the name of the
The Lorain Street Plank Road was established in 1848
when the road was surfaced with wooden planks to make it more suitable
for travel. It started at a toll gate house at West 98th Street.
Toll gate houses were located at Highland Avenue, West 117th
Street, West 130th Street, West 143rd Street, Triskett Road and Lorain
Street, and Rocky River Drive. The final toll gate house was at
its western end at Wooster Road on the western side of the Rocky River
valley in what became Fairview Park.
Along Lorain Street at West 130th Street, Triskett Road
and Lorain Street there were inns that served meals and provided
lodging for overnight guests. The two most well known inns were
the Sherman House
and the Old Lorain Street House, or Rockport Inn. They were
the area where Triskett Road merged with the Old Plank Road. The
parking lot for the Fairview West Park Center building, in 1997, was
the site of The Old Lorain Street House.
Kamm's corners, with Oswald Kamm's store and post office, at Rocky
River Drive, was the best known landmark on Lorain Street.
Before 1900 the only public transportation was a
horse-drawn omnibus that ran between West 98th Street and Kamm's
corners. By the turn of the century the Interurban cars were
running down the center of Lorain Street on their own steel rails and
electric lines. The Cleveland Southwestern ran from Rocky River
Drive to Berea, Elyria and Medina. The company maintained car
barns on the north side of Lorain Street at the east end of the Lorain
Road bridge. Eventually, street cars took over, then trackless trolleys
and, later, buses.
Lorain Road originally descended into the Rocky River
valley south of where the Lorain Road Bridge was built in 1897.
Lorain Road's route was changed to accommodate the new
bridge. However, the original path of Lorain Road still exists,
appropriately named Old Lorain Road, just south of Fairview General
Hospital. It descends into the Rocky River valley near the
Metropolitan Park golf course and crosses the river. A small iron
bridge was built there in 1894. It was one lane wide and was
replaced by a two lane structure in 1974 at a cost of $275,000.00.
South Rocky River bridge at Lorain Avenue. Built
in 1897, it was 1,219 feet long. (Looking north.)
photograph is from page 33
of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. 1918." Copyright 1998. Cleveland
State University. All rights reserved. Image provided courtesy of the
Cleveland Digital Library, The
Cleveland Memory Project. Cleveland State University, Cleveland,
The original Lorain Road Bridge, known as
the South Rocky River bridge, was built in 1897 on the site where the
present bridge spans the Rocky River Valley. It was a steel
trestle viaduct, 1219 feet long, with nine spans on metal towers. Its
32 feet wide deck was 130 feet above the river. The location of
the bridge was not a foregone conclusion when it was decided that the
small narrow bridge down in the valley was no longer sufficient for the
volume of traffic. This location for the proposed new bridge
resulted in a disagreement between two factions. One group wanted
the bridge to be built at Mastick Road connecting Puritas Road to
Columbia Road. A second group wanted the bridge on Lorain Road
and this was ultimately the result. Construction began in 1894
and completed in November 1895.
The present Lorain Road Bridge replaced the
original in 1935. Special care was taken to insure that the
structure fit its natural environment. It consists of four steel
arches. Two have a span of 250 feet, center to center of
piers. The two arches at the ends of the bridge each span about
237 feet. The roadway, about 130 feet above the valley floor, is
40 feet wide, flanked by two five foot sidewalks.
The appearance of the finished bridge was considered in
the overall design. The plate girder arch ribs of uniform depth
were carried on vertical posts without diagonal bracing. The
minimal use of members and the tapering of the piers contributed to its
gracefulness Rivet heads were countersunk or welding was performed so
that the beauty of the structure was enhanced. The railing design
consisted of welded shapes and open iron panels. It received an award
from the American Institute of Steel Construction for being the most
beautiful steel bridge in its class built in 1935.