History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
by Gary Swilik
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Many senior West Park residents have told us about "Dyer's Pond" located south of Puritas Avenue at West 143rd Street. They've described playing along the edges of the pond, fishing in it, boating on it in old cement-mixing tubs, and even swimming in it.
( Click here to view map
Click here to see a satellite photo of the area at Microsoft TerreServer Imagery )
The pond probably takes its name from the American Agricultural Chemical Company, commonly called "Agrico," which opened in 1874 south of Puritas Avenue and north of Brookpark Road. The company was also known as the "Cleveland Dryer Works" and manufactured one of the nation's leading fertilizers. It may have either drawn water from or emptied industrial waste into the pond.
There was, however, also an early West Park family living in the area with the surname "Dreyer." This family is apparently related through marriage to the Peterjohn Family which sold the plant site to American Agricultural in the early 1870s. There is some possibility the pond took its name from the Dreyer Family even before Agrico was built. The answer may never be known with certainty
In any event, whatever the origins of the name, generations of young folks found Dryer's Pond a great place to play on a summer afternoon.
Since the pond is associated with the fertilizer company the author had come to think of it as polluted and barren. However Bob Baus, 85, has only pleasant memories of the spot.
"I used to catch bluegills in Dryer's Pond," remembers Bob. "It couldn't have been terribly polluted because the place was loaded with little fish. I never though about going swimming there because it was far from home and no adults were around, but some kids did strip down and swim."
"I don't know if the pond was later messed up by Agrico," continues Bob, "but to me it was an idyllic spot. We never even connected the name with the fertilizer factory. The pond came to a narrow neck in the middle where there was little bridge going across. I think it was just a shortcut over to the factory. I don't recall seeing vehicles on it. It was a cinder-type road."
Fortunately Bob, who is an excellent amateur photographer, took a picture of Dryer's Pond in about 1936 and is happy to share it with us. The photo shows not a polluted, dark pool but a scenic little lake complete with lily pads.
Agrico went out of business sometime in the 1960s and the property is now home to an industrial park. The low, marshy areas that still exist south of Puritas Road may be the remains of Dryer's Pond.
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Memories of Dryer's Pond
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Email Charles Chaney and Gary Swilik
Created & maintained by:
Charles C. Chaney
28 February 2009