Snippets of Bay Village History: Why is Wolf Road so curvy?
If you look at an old map of Dover Township, you see that Abraham Tappan laid out the township in 97 lots. Bay Village consists of the lots from No. 81 to No. 97. Some Bay Village farms were narrow in width, 500 feet east to west, but many acres long going south from Lake Erie. Many built their home on the north side of Lake Road with the farm acreage spreading out in front of them.
Such was the Osborn farm. Reuben and his grandson, Reuben, who inherited the property at 29202 Lake Road, were farmers. In 1880, the U.S. Census tells us that the younger Reuben owned 61 acres of land, mostly in Lot No. 93 from the lake south, to where Osborn Road is today. He grew hay, wheat and potatoes. He kept two horses, three cows, three steers, 32 sheep, seven pigs, and 75 chickens on his farm. He had two acres in fruit trees, bearing him 325 bushels of fruit from 125 apple and peach trees, and one acre in vineyards. As you can see, every acre was accounted for on Reuben’s farm.
Lake Road meandered west in front of his house, so Reuben crossed the street every morning to walk to his barn. In 1897, the Lake Shore Electric Interurban laid tracks west not more than 500 feet in front of Reuben’s front door. Now he crossed Lake Road and climbed the cinder embankment of the interurban tracks and water ditch, to get to his fields on the far south side of his property.
In the early 1900s, the village decided they needed another east/west road between Cahoon and Bassett Roads. At that time you traveled east/west on either Detroit or Lake roads. The Osborns allowed Osborn Road to pass through the south end of their property.
Wolf Road came along in the early 1920s. The road was laid from Clague to the bridge over Cahoon Creek. Then the village ran out of money. The roadway wasn’t talked about again until the late 1920s. To continue west, the roadway would pass just north of Parkview School and Cahoon Memorial Park. The next property west was the Osborns. The new roadway was going to leave 150 feet here and 50 feet there and cut off corners of their lots if it cut straight through.
The Osborns objected to again having another structure running through their fields. They weren’t the only ones objecting – the Aldrichs, Drakes and Sadlers were also opposed. It was finally decided that the roadway would accommodate all the farmers who had objections and make right and left 90-degree angles around the borders of the properties if needed. Hence, the curves in Wolf Road. Continuing west, the roadway straightened out again.
Today, the 90-degree angles in Wolf Road have been replaced with nicely rounded curves. The same conditions created the 90 degree angles that still exist today on Bassett Road, south of Detroit, in Westlake.
Sometimes the farmers got their way.
I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society. Member and Past President of the society. Lived in the village since 1936.