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Were those the good old days, or what?

By Henry Timman • Jul 27, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Last week I described some wrecks on the Lake Shore Electric Interurban line, which came into Norwalk from the east on a line between East Main Street and Gibbs Road.

At Old State Road it turned to the north toward East Main Street. There, a trolley could go north to Milan on Old State Road or go left onto East Main Street and into downtown Norwalk. A rival line, the Cleveland & Southwestern, came into Norwalk along Ohio 61 from Berlinville and Berlin Heights and shared some trackage on East Main Street to Benedict Avenue where the line ended. Its proper name was the Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railway, but it never went beyond Norwalk.

The mutual use of the trackage was well-known to all concerned, but every now and then conflicts arose. One such incident came about in October of 1902, at the same time that the lake Shore Electric was accumulating the damage payments I described last week. What happened was that a Lake Shore and a CS & C car came together on East Main in Norwalk at Schauss Avenue, where then was the East Main Street crossing of the New York Central Railroad.

Neither conductor would back up for the other, for an hour or more. Finally the conductor of the Lake Shore Electric car walked uptown to ascertain what his rights were. He found out and when he returned, he backed up his trolley to a “Y” at Old State Road so that the CS & C car could proceed eastward.

Eventually this stretch of track from the railroad crossing east was double tracked, allowing cars to pass without incident. At the time of the 1902 incident described above (the second such incident within a week, by the way), one of the Norwalk newspapers commented editorially that “patrons of both roads are getting tired of this sort of delay just for the sake of satisfying the whims of the employees of the electric railway companies.” Remember, while those two cars sat there for an hour, the passengers had to sit there, too, and be delayed.

Another interesting story of this particular stretch of electric railway line between Schauss and Townsend avenues is that the track went fairly close to the south side of the street. There was room to drive a buggy or auto between the track and the curb, but it was unsafe to do so if an interurban car was approaching. 

More than once if a man and his wife were traveling east and had been arguing, he’d deliberately drive in that narrow space to agitate his wife and not move to the middle of the street until it was absolutely necessary for safety.

Ahh! Were those the good old days, or what?

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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at New Directions Design, 20 W. Main St., in downtown Norwalk. These contain my earlier columns fully indexed and in permanent book form.

Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.

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