The Interurban Railroad and the Lake Shore Electric Railway

Interurban railroads were electrically-powered trains designed to connect communities together. A quick and cheap alternative to regular railroads, canals, or horses, the interurban became a popular mode of travel at the beginning of the 20th century. While the interurban railroads primarily transported people from one location to another, they also carried farmers’ crops and commercial goods.

The interurban railroad first reached Huron when the Sandusky and Inter-Urban Railway constructed a line to Huron that opened November 4, 1899. The line extended from the end of the Sandusky Street Railway at the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Perkins Township, south on Milan Road to Hull Road and Camp Road, where an overpass over the New York Central railroad line was built. From there, the line followed Cleveland Road through Rye Beach and along the lake shore. The line used Superior Street and South Street to reach downtown Huron where it turned south on North Main Street. The line then turned east at Berlin Road where it crossed the Huron River. The rickety Berlin Road bridge (at that time, the main road out of Huron going east) could barely support the interurban cars in addition to road traffic, and the S&I would go no further east.

Interurban electric railways were the “dot-coms” of the early 20th century and enjoyed rapid growth. The Sandusky and Inter-Urban Railway was purchased by the Everett-Moore Syndicate in Cleveland, who combined it with two other Everett-Moore interurban railways to form the Lake Shore Electric Railway, on August 29, 1901. The merger enabled the new interurban line to strengthen the bridge and continue construction east, where it met the former Lorain and Cleveland Railway in Vermilion. Through service on the LSE from Cleveland to Toledo, passing through Huron, opened on December 29, 1901.

The Lake Shore Electric has been called the greatest electric interurban line in the nation. It became known for its fast service between Cleveland and Toledo, and its big, luxurious cars. The Lake Shore was a major transportation link in northern Ohio and directly contributed to the growth of many communities along its route.

In 1912 the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway announced plans to expand the Huron docks. The expansion would require the eventual removal of the Berlin Road Bridge and the severing of both the road and the Lake Shore Electric line. The Wheeling and Lake Erie financed the building of a new road bridge, adjacent to the New York Central tracks about a quarter mile south of the old bridge. The new bridge would also take the interurban tracks over the river. In 1913, as planning for the new bridge continued, the Lake Shore Electric began acquiring land between the south side of Huron and Rye Beach for a new line that would replace the curving route through Huron streets.

The new “Huron Cutoff” line opened November 5, 1918 and included a new interurban station/electrical substation on South Main Street. Tracks on the old route were removed shortly afterward. The Lake Shore Electric not only offered several times daily passenger service between Toledo and Cleveland, but also offered connecting service to Detroit, Cincinnati and Lima from Huron. In addition, the Lake Shore Electric offered express freight services that helped them to maintain service as their passenger business waned with the increasing number of private automobiles on paved roads.

However, Lake Shore Electric went into bankruptcy October 5, 1932 as automobiles continued to take their passengers and connecting interurban lines shut down. The Lake Shore Electric Railway ceased operations on May 15, 1938, although trains continued to pass through Huron until late 1939 as the line was dismantled.