The Alphabet Railroad

Akron to Cleveland, OH

The Akron, Bedford, and Cleveland Railroad (AB&C or the "Alphabet Railroad") has been almost forgotten despite its historical significance. It was among the first electric commuter railroads in the nation, arriving before even the New York City subway system. At the time of its completion (1895), it was the longest railroad of its type in the world. Daily passenger carriers on the AB&C departed Akron and headed north through or near the towns of Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Brandywine, Macedonia, Northfield, Bedford, Warrensville Heights, and Shaker Heights. The railroad's northern terminus was the Union Terminal (later the Terminal Tower) in downtown Cleveland.

Around 1900, the AB&C merged with a few other Akron-area electric railroads to form the Northeast Ohio Traction and Lighting Company (NOT&LCo), which later got out of the railroad business completely and became Ohio Edison, now a part of First Energy. NOT&L operated the line to dwindling returns well into the automobile era. Passenger service was discontinued in 1932.

Much of the Alphabet Line now lies underneath Ohio Route 8. Hudson Drive, in Stow and Cuyahoga Falls, also lies on the old ROW. Another portion of the right of way, in the Cuyahoga Falls area, is now a bike-walk path. In Cleveland and Shaker Heights, the AB&C line is still in use today as the RTA rapid transit Blue Line. A former station on this line, on Van Aken Blvd. in Shaker Heights, has been converted into a hair salon with a historic marker in front. The Macedonia station also still stands at the corner of OH 8 and OH 82.

Stone abutments where the AB&C crossed over the Lake Erie & Pitt...
Stone abutments where the AB&C crossed over the Lake Erie & Pittsburg Railroad, described here. This view is looking southeast along the LE&P right of way, in a blinding sunset, toward the route 8 freeway. The bridge overhead is old route 8. Photo by Elias C. Jones, June 2003.
According to the stone placard between the windows, this is the ...
According to the stone placard between the windows, this is the old Macedonia depot, constructed by the Northeast Ohio Traction and Lighting Company in 1905. The railroad would have been on the right side of the building, where OH route 8 is today. Apparently NOT&L's post-railroad incarnation, Ohio Edison, still owns the building and is using it as a control room for the adjoining substation (just off the photo to the left). Sadly, this historic building is now completely surrounded by strip malls and fast-food outlets where only farmhouses stood during the station's heyday. Photo by Elias C. Jones, June 2003.

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