Filed Under Transportation

The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Depot

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln visited Bedford, Ohio, via train? In February of 1861, the president-elect journeyed through Bedford on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad (C&P) while on his way from Springfield, Illinois, his hometown, to Washington for his inauguration. The train carried Lincoln, his wife, and their three sons. As the train passed by the C&P depot, he waved from the platform of the train to welcoming residents. A few years later, in 1865, Lincoln made his way to his hometown from the Capitol, but this time he did not get out and wave. His funeral train made the 1,700-mile voyage back to Springfield, stopping in major cities like Baltimore and Cleveland for Americans to pay their respects to the fallen president.

The railroad industry brought many individuals to Bedford, including Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover; these men and their families rode the C&P, which stopped in Bedford on the way to the developing city of Cleveland. Trains and railroads became an important industry, fueling the economic growth of many small suburbs, like Bedford, which is located about 12 miles southeast of Cleveland.

The Wheeling and Lake Erie Depot is the last standing historic railroad depot in Bedford. The Connotton Valley Railroad Company (bought by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Company in 1899) built the depot in 1882 when it decided to expand its tracks through Bedford’s Public Square. The depot’s location in the Public Square, next to the 1874 Town Hall building was significant as it was at the center of the town’s economic activities. Throughout the years, this depot has fueled economic activity and development in Bedford.

The town began to adopt the role of a suburb during the time of “railroadization,” which was only reinforced with the 1882 opening of the Connotton Valley Railroad (CV) Depot. Trains and interurban streetcars, like the Akron, Bedford, and Cleveland (AB&C), created a direct route to Cleveland and areas of southern Ohio. Frequent schedules for passenger trains between Bedford and Cleveland were used to entice city dwellers to the suburbs. The Plain Dealer carried an advertisement for Bedford, claiming it to be the “most beautifully situated of all Cleveland’s suburbs—the healthiest town in Ohio to make a home—only twelve miles from the [Cleveland] Public Square, with the best of railroad facilities.” In addition to passengers, the railroads brought freight, including coal, to the town. The construction and subsequent use of this depot, as well as the C&P Depot, brought developers and new industries, like the Franklin Oil and Gas Co., to the developing area.

The depot is a characteristic late 19th century small town train station, transporting passengers and freight. Before being donated to the city, the depot had been used as storage space and offices from the train depot’s last use as a stop for passenger trains in July 16, 1938, to its donation in 1986. It furthermore embodies the evolution of railway companies. Built by the Connotton Valley Railroad, the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Company (WL&E), chartered to the Nickel Plate Road from December 1949 to 1964, and then served the Norfolk and Western Railway following yet another merger. In 1982, the Norfolk and Western became the Norfolk Southern Railway. The original lines of the WL&E were sold in June 1990 to a new railroad, which adopted the original name (WL&E) and still runs today.

The Norfolk Southern Railway Company, which owned the depot after many mergers, donated the building, 104 years old at that time, to the city in 1986. The City of Bedford, along with the help of the Bedford Historical Society and many of Bedford’s residents, began the restoration of the railway depot in 1986, completing it in 1989. The historical society intended it to be an annex of the museum, displaying railroad mementos from years of the depot’s use. For this project, the historical society and city relied on $85,000 in state grants, including the State of Ohio’s historic preservation grant, $12,000 in federal funding, and donations. Unlike other historic preservation sites, this railway depot was not restored to its original 1882 style, but to the 1920s era passenger station. Bedford’s Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Depot has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2004. Work has been continually done on the square since the 1980s to preserve the city’s history with the intention of furthering memories of the city’s past and creating a central cultural feature in Bedford.

Images

Connotton Valley Railroad Train A locomotive from the Connotton Valley Railroad, the company that constructed the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Depot in Bedford, Ohio in 1882. This company became the Cleveland and Canton Railroad. In 1888, this company changed its name to the Cleveland, Canton, and Southern Railroad. In 1899 it became the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad, which was contracted to the Nickel Plate Railroad from 1949 to 1964. It then became the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1964 and Norfolk Southern Railroad in 1985. Source: Bedford Historical Society Archives
BHS C.C+S. R.R. MS83 2001 Brooks Locomotive Works
Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotive No. 2117 Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotive No. 2117 stops at the Wheeling & Lake Erie Depot in Bedford in 1919. The depot was used for passengers until 1938. The Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks continue to be used, though the depot is no longer an active stop. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 214. Date: 1919
The Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotive No.2709, 1990s The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway was reborn in June 1990. The Norfolk Southern Railway sold parts of its tracks in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which included the majority of the Wheeling & Lake Erie's historic tracks to a new railroad company, which named itself the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 214. Date: 1990s
Herbert Hoover's Stop in Bedford On October 2, 1930, President Herbert Hoover and his wife stopped for a few minutes at Bedford's depot on their way to Cleveland to speak at the American Bankers Association. He and his wife are photographed here on the platform of their private car. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 226. Creator: Edna Copeland Date: October 2, 1930
Abraham Lincoln's Visit to Bedford On February 14, 1861, Abraham Lincoln journeyed through Bedford on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad (C&P) while on his way from Springfield, Illinois to Washington for his inauguration. In this photograph, the president-elect stands on the back of the train waving to residents at the Bedford C&P Depot. Source: Bedford Historical Society
Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway track in Bedford, Ohio Railroad tracks running along an alley behind houses in Bedford, Ohio. The backyard in the left side of the photograph shows laundry hung on the line, and an outhouse. Source: The Cleveland Memory Project Creator: Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Company Date: October 1, 1929
The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Co. Time Tables This 1921 time table for the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway stows the stops, arrival/departure times, and mileage of the Wheeling & Lake Erie trains. It additionally provides information about parlor-dining cars. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 235. Date: November 10, 1921
1925 Wheeling & Lake Erie Train Pass This is a train pass for a 1925 passenger on the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. Passenger transport ended in July 1938 for this railway company and the company's depot. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 219.
Map of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad This 1901 map displays the two main lines of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad in 1901. The tracks, over 400 miles long, reaching from Cleveland to Zanesville and Toledo to Wheeling, converged in Harmon, Ohio. This intersection created the railroad's nickname "Cleveland's Iron Cross." Source: Poor's Manual of Railroads Date: 1901
Bedford Railroad Depot National Register of Historic Places Plaque The National Register of Historic Places plaque located at the front of the restored Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in Bedford names, in order, the railroad companies that worked out of the building since its construction in 1882. Bedford's depot has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2004. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 234.
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Depot, 1986 A photograph from the archives of the Bedford Historical Society taken on July 4, 1986 after being relinquished as storage space by the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Restoration of the depot began the next year. Source: Bedford Historical Society Archives
MS#141 BHS Restoration Works
Date: July 4, 1986
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Depot, Bedford 1987 Bedford's Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Depot after its preservation and restoration from 1987 to 1989. Although the depot was no longer in use as an active passenger station, the depot was donated to the City of Bedford in 1986 to be an annex of the Bedford Historical Society. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 239.
The Depot at Christmas Every year Bedford decorates its Public Square for Christmas. This photo shows the depot in the midst of its restoration decorated with Christmas lights and garlands. The restoration of this depot on Public Square helped foster a shared community history. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 240. Creator: A.D. Saleker Date: December 1988
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Depot Restored Dick Squire published a photograph of the Bedford's restored Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Depot in his book Bedford Village Views. The historic depot was restored from 1987 to 1989, being funded by private donations, state grants (like the State of Ohio’s historic preservation grant), and federal funding. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 234. Date: 1992
Bedford's Wheeling & Lake Erie Depot's Last Passenger Train July 17, 1938 marked the end of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway's passenger transportation. Post-1938, the railway company transported only freight. The depot was used as storage space by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, who took over the W&LE in 1985. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 237. Date: July 17, 1938
ABC Car #30 The ABC Interurban line provided essential transportation between Bedford and its surrounding cities, like Cleveland and Akron. The Akron, Bedford, and Cleveland Railroad Company was the country's first “high-speed interurban light rail system." This photo was taken after the car's completion at the Delaware Car Works. Source: Bedford Historical Society Date: late 1920s
An ABC Interurban Car over Tinker's Creek The Akron, Bedford, and Cleveland (also called the ABC) Interurban Cars transported Clevelanders to many places in Northeast Ohio. Bedford, though a small town, became a stop as it is located in between Akron and Cleveland. This line allowed people to move from the city to the suburbs. It furthermore allowed residents of Bedford to work in Cleveland while residing in Bedford, and vice versa. Source: Dick Squire, Bedford Village Views: Selections from Around the Town, with the Village Observer, 1982-1992 (Bedford, Ohio: Bedford Historical Society, 1992): 246. Date: 1910?

Location

30 S Park St, Bedford, OH 44146

Metadata

Jenna Langa, “The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Depot,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 24, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/820.