Solon to Chagrin Falls

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  • States: Ohio   
  • Railroads: CF&S, W&LE   

Chagrin Falls and Southern Railroad

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Map submitted by Aaron M.

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Right of way looking west at Chagrin River Road. Photo by Elias C. Jones, July 2003.

Built in the 1870s, this Wheeling & Lake Erie spur was once the only reliable way to get into or out of Chagrin Falls. The spur began in Glenwillow, at a point called Falls Junction on maps and timetables, and proceeded northward to Solon, about 1 mile. From there the line headed northeast to Chagrin Falls. The total length of the spur was about 7 miles.

The portion from downtown Solon to Chagrin Falls was abandoned around 1980 but had probably been out of use for some years before that. US 422 has a bridge over the right of way. The short segment between Falls Junction and Solon is still in use today to serve industrial plants in Solon.

Thanks to Elias C. Jones for contributing information about this route.

A few corrections to the above information.

The line was originally called the Chagrin Falls and Southern Railroad. It was named because of the rivalry between the two towns, the owner living in the more industrial Chagrin Falls, while the "Southern" eluding to Solon, a farming and dairy town. Chagrin knew to grow into a dominant city they would need a railroad. Unfortunately for Chagrin the Cleveland & Mahoning Railroad decided that it's new mainline to Warren was to pass though swampy flat Solon. If you notice the mainline through Solon, much of it is built up on grade. Because of the soft fertile soil, they must have figured it was less expensive to go around Chagrin on cinders and rocks then to build trestles, cuts and fills just to service the small bustling Chagrin. The mainline opened in 1857 through Solon. Unable to sway the mainline's construction through the gorges and hills around Chagrin, the railroad decided not include it's terminus' name in the new name. It was also originally a narrow gauge line, & cargo had to be transferred at the depot in Solon, and conversely cargo had to use CF&S equipment to move freight in and out of CF. In the narrow gauge days when passenger and freight service were about equal Solonites gave the train the disparaging name the "Hoodlebug". According to lore it was constantly breaking down, and forcing passengers to walk or find other means, also prior to Solon having a high school, it was responsible for shuttling students to CFHS to attend class and graduate. Also worth noting, there was a branch line spur just after the Chagrin River crossing that followed River and the now River Road to what is now the Cleveland Metroparks Quarry Park. It was then called Griffithsburg and had a general store and post office nearby. As the quarry, and Griffithsburg ghosted, the branch line faded. Connection of the line to Falls Junction in Glenwillow happend after a buyout by the Cleveland, Canton and Southern Railroad in 1887. The new owners upgraded the rails to standard gauge and completed the track from Glenwillow into solon and crossed the Cleveland & Mahoning north of the current Freeway Lanes. The quarry branch never made the conversion to standard gauge but you can still see the grade and follow it faintly though private property south of Solon Road. You can also visit quarry park to learn more about Griffithsburg. The Cleveland, Canton and Southern railroad, became Wheeling and Lake Erie and most recently the line operated under N&W from Chagrin Falls through Solon to Falls Jct until about 1986 when it was abandoned and soon after torn up for scrap. I know I rode it in the caboose (used as a pushing platform) as a young boy from river road to Liberty road many times. I had a large fort/play area built beneath the trestle over the river. I can remember watching the 10 car or less local pass over us in the summer. I remember being in 4th or 5th grade when it was being torn out, walking through the woods to the tracks only to witness crews pulling up rails, plates, ties everything. I have fond memories walking that right of way into Solon across SOM Center behind the school and cemetery all the way to Arthur Road School and eventually to Glenwillow and Falls Jct. The last stretch from around the Inwood Drive area to Falls Jct is still operated by the rejuvenated W&LE. The only two sections of right of way violated by development are the grossly named Kruse Dr that was constructed over CF&S trackage, and a large residential housing complex in Chagrin Falls. by the way I own one of the only pieces of civil memorabilia from this line, a Railroad St sign from the Chagrin Falls Park neighborhood I snatched when I was 17 ( by the way there is railroad history about that town, the railroad, and it's location…)

A good book to learn more from, if word of mouth on this history is hard to find, is Pioneers with Webbed Feet from the Solon Historical Society.

David Bryndal
Solon, OH
12/7/2011

[Thanks for the information David; I updated the page to reflect the Chagrin Falls and Southern.  —Greg Harrison]

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Yes the Rerick tracks in chagrin Falls have been down since about 1980 but the memories live on .

scott pool
Newbury ohio
1/10/2013

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my dad's father , was hit by a train on glenwillow train station , he was on his way to cash his paycheck, but didn't to town to cash it oh well .

mariel
chagrin fall , OH
2/21/2013

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I used to live in Solon in the early 80's and knew the train crew that worked the area. I used to sit on the engineer's lap and "drive" the locomotive and ride in the caboose on a regular basis. The engineer was named Art, the brakeman was Bobby and the conductor was Freddie. I think the fireman was named Don. I still have pictures of me with the crew and the old GP7 that used to work the area.... I am 34 years old and remember it like yesterday. I still have the orange lantern and N and W "safety first" boot garters for your pant cuffs that they gave me...

Jason
Spotsylvania, VA
3/18/2013

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Hi -- I grew up ('60s) on South Strawberry Lane, the ravine side. We spent most of our spare time wading in or exploring around Willey Creek (though we didn't know its name at the time) that runs through that area. What a heavenly place, full of salamanders, frogs, (what I now know to be) native fish, migratory birds, incredible wildflowers -- huge carpets of Mayapples, for example. I hope it is still like it was, although with the development of the area, you kind of wonder. . . . Anyway, was this the rail line we used to wonder about as kids? We suspected it must have gone to Cleveland. There was a rotting old rail over one little part of the creek that we weren't allowed to walk on (of course, we did, at the very edges). Anyway, there was the kid legend about a huge quarry at the end of that long trail and "gypsies" camping out there and etc. I wd love to hike it now, but am afraid of spoiling all those childhood illusions of the splendid woods -- if they indeed have been developed. if anyone knows more about the trail, I'd love to know. Thank you. I just was looking on line for any info about the old rail and came across this link.

Lisle Merriman
Moreland Hills, OH
3/15/2014

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Hello Lisle Merriman Moreland Hills, OH 3/15/2014...

Our daughter moved to North Strawberry Lane two years ago and we share your interest in investigating the ravine. This is part of the EASTERN OHIO TRACTION CO. Interurban lines:

Cleveland-Chagrin Falls (constructed 1897, discontinued 1925)

Chagrin Falls-Hiram (constructed 1902, discontinued 1914)

Hiram-Garrettsville (constructed 1903, discontinued 1914)

Cleveland-Middlefield (constructed 1901, discontinued 1925)

Chardon branch (constructed 1901, discontinued 1925)

The Eastern Ohio Traction Co. (later reorganized as the Cleveland & Eastern Traction Co.) was another interurban that penetrated the countryside east of Cleveland. Its 33-mi. main line crossed the sparsely settled and at times hilly terrain between Cleveland and Chardon, a region with poor steam railroad service. The company also operated a 14-mi. appendage from "C&E Junction" (near Fullerton) southeast to Middlefield. Separate from the Eastern Ohio Traction Co., although operated jointly with it, was the Cleveland, Youngstown & Eastern Railway. Prior to 1910 this firm had been officially part of the Eastern Ohio, and for a decade the public commonly referred to it as the "Chagrin Falls & Garrettsville Branch." Although this 42-mi. interurban never reached Youngstown, it tied Cleveland with Garrettsville via Warrensville, Chagrin Falls Township and Hiram.

Reed Carpenter
Shaker Heights, OH
3/26/2014

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I grew up in Glenwillow. My father ran the farm there for Austin Powder. The Falls Junction Station was in my back yard. My father had keys to the place and would show me around. In my teens I used to dirt bike those train tracks not much left there now.

Brian Bragg
Tampa, FL
5/8/2014

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I grew up in Chagrin Falls in the late 60's/early 70's. I always wondered where the railroad tracks went that crossed Washington St. at the old lumber yard and what line it was. I think I read something about it being on the Nickel Plate line, Wheeling and Lake Erie District?

Tom
Orange County, NY
8/24/2016

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We took a nostalgic hike from Solon to Chagrin Falls along the abandoned "Hoodlebug" railroad tracks. The length of the trip was approx. 4.5 miles with some stretches of the trail easy to walk while others provided a challenge - 2 areas of river to cross not to mention thick bramble patches to avoid. Although the railroad tracks have been taken up and in certain areas, stacked to the side of the trail, mile markers were still evident which provided an eerie yet nostalgic feeling of stepping back in time. Never knew just how much forest and wildlife is literally right in our own back yard! Awesome experience!

M. M. & R. M.
Solon, OH
10/13/2016

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