History of the  West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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Lorain Road and Bridges
of West Park

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 street.


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 located in 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.


This image was provided courtesy of The Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio.


South Rocky River bridge at Lorain Avenue. Built in 1897, it was 1,219 feet long. (Looking north.)

This photograph is from page 33 of  "Bridges 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, Ohio.



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 Lorain Avenue bridge, built 1935.  Photo by C. Chaney. 2004.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.

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Created by: Charles C. Chaney
19 June 2014