Lorain to Brady Lake

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  • States: Ohio   
  • Railroads: LE&P, PC   
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Map submitted by Aaron M.

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These concrete blocks are all that remains of the Tinkers Creek Gorge trestle, which stood from 1911 to 1974 and towered high above the frame of the picture. Two more blocks (barely visible) lie in the trees behind the road, and many more can be seen in winter. It is not known how or where the railroad crossed the gorge prior to 1911. Photo by Elias C. Jones, May 2003.

The Lake Erie and Pittsburg Railway (intentionally misspelled) was incorporated around 1900 as a joint venture between what would later become the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads. The purpose of the railroad was to serve as a linker between the NYC mainline at Lorain (west of Cleveland on Lake Erie) and the PRR mainline at Brady Lake, east of Kent (both of these lines are now Norfolk Southern). Construction began at Lorain and proceeded eastward through the Avon, North Ridgeville, and North Olmsted areas. However, construction came to a halt at Berea, where some unexpectedly swampy terrain was encountered. Earth had been graded and bridges installed between Lorain and Berea, but this segment of the line had to be abandoned around 1905 without track ever having been laid.

The new LE&P route was replanned and constructed in 1905-06. The new alignment began at a NYC yard in Marcy (now Cuyahoga Heights), just south of downtown Cleveland. The railroad headed east on a high trestle over Mill Creek, then passed southward through Bedford and Northfield, again crossing a high trestle at Tinkers Creek. The line gradually made a southeasterly curve through northern Summit County, passing through the Stow and Kent areas, and finally joined the PRR line at Brady Lake as had originally been planned. Service began in 1906 and continued for 62 years.

The Lake Erie and Pittsburg was rendered obsolete by the 1968 Penn Central merger. The line was immediately abandoned and tracks were removed mostly in the 70's. Most of the right of way in Cuyahoga County has been obliterated by urban sprawl. In Summit and Portage Counties, however, much of it has been preserved as an excellent bike path. The never-used segment of ROW between Lorain and Berea is much more difficult to identify. Some of this ROW is now used as a cut for high-tension power lines in the North Olmsted area. Bridge abutments can reportedly be found at French Creek near Avon.

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

Nice site. I was born in 1969, and when I was <5 years old Mom used to take us to Tinker's Creek gorge in Bedford Reservation and I still remember the old black trestle that was there. There was graffiti way out on it, clearly someone had taken a big risk to immortalize themselves (if only until the bridge was torn out in 1974). My memories would have been dated around 1972-1973. There were two smaller black trestles/bridges in the area, one near the intersection of Dunham Rd and Egbert Rd which vehicular traffic on Dunham used to have to dogleg around the abuttment, and also one over Alexander Rd where the ROW now begins as the bike and hike trail. Also of interest is the fact that there was a long high gravel embankment that could be seen looking south from Dunham Road just west of the gorge until a few years ago when the property was acquired by a private owner (I think owners of Morabito Trucking) and the gravel was trucked from the site and sold.

Thanks for putting all of this together. I used to bike and run on this trail years ago and am fascinated by the transportation history of the area.

David Kubic
Maple Heights, OH
4/20/2009

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By the way, unless the park system removed it, there is still a stone bridge that carries this ROW over a small gully and creek just west of Alexander Road. I discovered this while taking a potty break off the trail about 15 years ago. It would be nearly impossible to discover if you weren't really paying attention.

David Kubic
Maple Heights, OH
4/20/2009

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Traveling south on Bagley road, where it crosses the West Branch of the Rocky River, in I believe, Olmstead Township, there are two tall bridge abutments in the river bed. Also, near the entrance to Mill Run Metropark, which used to be Berea sandstone quarries, on the North side of Bagley as it crosses the East Branch of the Rocky River, there are more bridge abutments on either bank of the river, plus, there is an abutment underneath the highway bridge from a branch line that went into the quarries off of the nearby former Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, & St. Louis) as it passed through Berea. In the old quarries themselves, railroad ties can be found, along with some gravel ballast, from the branch line. There are also abutments from the Cleveland, Southwestern, & Columbus Interurban further in the metropark, also in the river bed where the C,S,& W would have crossed the river. All this can be found from topo maps of the area.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
10/13/2010

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Grew up in Parma, born in 1968, so the rails were gone prior to my awareness of the line. Frequent trips over the I-480 bridge piqued my curiosity, as the grade is easily visible from either eastbound or westbound lanes- just follow the power lines. Knew it had to be a rail line. I took a walk with my then-very young son over the grade in the mid-90s. No railroad remnants (cross ties, spikes, etc.) visible from Rockside Rd on north, but we did find many interesting rocks with fossils in them. Bridge abutments still visible at Granger Rd, east of Canal Rd.

Mike Kole
Fishers, IN
8/16/2012

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Today I went to Tinker's Creek my kids (8/18/12). I was born in '61 and well remember the old trestle that spanned the gorge near the Dunham Rd park entrance. I hoped to take the kids and climb up onto the old retaining wall at the southern terminus of the old trestle. This was an infamous "party spot" in the 70s and 80s. Hadn't been up there since I went with their Mom back in '86. We walked up the bridle path to the top of the hill, like always. At the top, I was stunned to see that the entire area was changed. There had once been a tapered slag slope for the rail bed, and it was a steep climp. All that was now removed, and in its place was a well-manicured backlot of somebody's huge house, way off to the south, probably on Egbert Road in Walton Hills. Anyway, I was really bummed, another page of my early life ripped out. A couple of the old trestle footers were still there on the northern end of this huge backyard, but it like some old ruin from an Indiana Jones movie. It was hard to explain the former site to my kids, where the tapered hill of the railroad bed cut a straight line toward the edge of the gorge. I cannot imagine what a monumental job it must have been to level that rail bed and haul away all that slag. Must've cost millions. I'd love to hear the "official" story, but no doubt there were lots of people trying to climb up, like we always did, and cracking their skulls or otherwise being a nuisance. It's getting harder all the time to see the evidence of that old rail line, from where it began in Cuyahoga Hts, straddling the edge of the valley through Garfield and Valley View, and down into the Metropark. Back in about '73, a buddy and I walked across the old trestle on this line between E. 71st and Warner Rd, behind North American Mfg. What an experience that was! Stupid kids could have died!

jay ryan
garfield hts, OH
8/18/2012

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Today I went to Tinker's Creek my kids (8/18/12). I was born in '61 and well remember the old trestle that spanned the gorge near the Dunham Rd park entrance. I hoped to take the kids and climb up onto the old retaining wall at the southern terminus of the old trestle. This was an infamous "party spot" in the 70s and 80s. Hadn't been up there since I went with their Mom back in '86. We walked up the bridle path to the top of the hill, like always. At the top, I was stunned to see that the entire area was changed. There had once been a tapered slag slope for the rail bed, and it was a steep climp. All that was now removed, and in its place was a well-manicured backlot of somebody's huge house, way off to the south, probably on Egbert Road in Walton Hills. Anyway, I was really bummed, another page of my early life ripped out. A couple of the old trestle footers were still there on the northern end of this huge backyard, but it like some old ruin from an Indiana Jones movie. It was hard to explain the former site to my kids, where the tapered hill of the railroad bed cut a straight line toward the edge of the gorge. I cannot imagine what a monumental job it must have been to level that rail bed and haul away all that slag. Must've cost millions. I'd love to hear the "official" story, but no doubt there were lots of people trying to climb up, like we always did, and cracking their skulls or otherwise being a nuisance. It's getting harder all the time to see the evidence of that old rail line, from where it began in Cuyahoga Hts, straddling the edge of the valley through Garfield and Valley View, and down into the Metropark. Back in about '73, a buddy and I walked across the old trestle on this line between E. 71st and Warner Rd, behind North American Mfg. What an experience that was! Stupid kids could have died!

jay ryan
garfield hts, OH
8/18/2012

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I was born in '61. Before it was removed and when I was a small kid I remember how huge the Tinkers Creek Trestle looked when driving beneath it, especially what seemed like a very long and steep hill, climbing up on Dunham Rd and closely beneath it. I also remember climbing around the Brandywine Trestle abutments and footings straddling Brandywine Creek on the Sagamore Hills / Northfield side, back behind All Saints Cemetery. Trestle had been recently been completely removed and the track bed was still there. For a period it was only half removed to make way for the construction of I-271. We rode dirt bikes throughout the area between Brandywine Trestle and Route 82 on the former LE&P line, before the park developed the track bed into a bike path. A few years earlier, where it crossed South Boyden Rd and Highland Rd there were rickety wooden bridges over the tracks and we'd all sit in the back of the (Nordonia) school bus because whenever we went over those bridges we'd get lifted/launched out of our seats for a thrill. Today the section between Brandywine Rd and Brandywine Creek the old track bed is overgrown and not a part of the bike trail. I live in Europe now but the next time I get over there I plan to explore that area because the abutments are still there.

Michael Mayher
Sagamore Hills, OH
6/6/2015

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