A local history book released this month, "Images of Rail: Lake Shore Electric Railway," delves into tales of heroic conductors, the shaping of our suburban landscape and an industry that profited off building amusement parks and bringing electric lights to our hometowns.
The fading photos take readers back to a time when a quarter paid for grocery deliveries to the neighborhood railway stations and the tradition of "Sunday-ing" was a matter of course.
"At that time electricity was not all that common and electricity was considered magic things were very primitive considering what we're sued to," co-author Dennis Lamont said. "All the sudden there's no need to take the horse and buggy down the muddy roads or trim the kerosene lamps."
The book explores the short-lived history of the railroad with photos and their captions.
It explores the birth of "Vacationland," what commuters dubbed the west side, especially as cottages sprung up from Bay Village to Sandusky and a number of railroad-commissioned amusement parks were erected as destinations for their passengers.
"I have in my newspaper reports there were churches and organizations in Cleveland that would charter cars to go out to Beach Park for a weekend. Something like 5,100 people from one organization in Cleveland chartered Lake Shore Electric cars to go out to beach park for a Saturday," Lamont said. "It was a very big money maker for them. It was a completely different day and age."
Co-author and Avon Lake business owner Tom Patton said he spent the winter exploring the history of his shopping center after he found it was an old railway station over a century ago.
He said it's amazing how the powers that be disassembled the electric railway, and are currently trying to bring it back with groups like All Aboard Ohio.
"You hear all this talk now about rail," Patton said. "It's just a big circle -- they did away with this in order to benefit the auto industry and the rubber industry, but we can't get to Cleveland faster or cheaper today than they did in 1900."
Co-author Dennis Lamont has been engaged in researching the Lake Shore Electric Railway and its counterparts for considerably longer than just this last season, giving talks along with co-author Albert Doane "to anyone who will listen," according to Patton.
Working with the Lorain Street Railway, a nonprofit, educational organization attempting to bring street cars back to Lorain, the three authors have agreed to donate the proceeds of the book to the restoration of Lake Shore Electric Car No. 167, the last car to operate on the Lake Shore Electric.
It is Doane's hope that No. 167 will operate again if and when the Lorain Street Railway project comes to fruition.