Now and then in Dover

"Scene from High Level Bridge near N. Dover O." on Leiter postcard published about 1910. This building may be either the Oviatt or Cahoon sawmills.

Many collectibles cherished by previous generations have little market value today. One exception are postcards, especially Real Picture Post Cards (RPPCs) which command high prices. One reason for their popularity is that they provide a glimpse into daily life during a time when few people owned their own cameras.

One local purveyor of RPPCs in the early 20th century was The Leiter Post Card Company which was located in Lorain, Ohio. They photographed and printed cards of places in Dover from their founding in 1901 at least into the 1910s.

North Dover High Level Bridge and Saw Mill

There are at least two Leiter postcards which refer to the Dover High Level Bridge near North Dover. Bay Village Historical Society’s “Bay Village: A Way of Life” published in 1974 indicates that this bridge was a link to the Oviatt saw mill which was located between Cahoon and Dover Center roads north of the bridge.

In earlier days West Oviatt did not meet Cahoon Road at a right angle like it does today. It was angled in a northwesterly/southeasterly direction. It also is depicted on Hopkins plat books as late as 1937 as a bridge and aerial photographs from 1951 still seem to show a bridge in this location. Later the road was straightened when a large culvert and fill were added in the ravine beneath it.

One of the two postcards is reprinted on page 37 of “Bay Village: A Way of Life” with a caption stating: “Oviatt farm buildings alongside the Oviatt bridge built to replace the wooden bridge erected in 1854. Cahoon and Oviatt Roads.” A 1914 Hopkins plat book seems to support this interpretation of the postcard with a farm building drawn in the right position. A large oak tree behind 27408 West Oviatt may even feature prominently in the center of the image on the postcard near the location of the former farm building!

Another interpretation of this postcard is that it is a “View from about 1911 of the Lake Shore Electric High Level Bridge through Huntington Park.” This is the typed caption accompanying another copy of the postcard in the collection of Westlake resident Bob Collins. There were farm buildings on the estate that could be what is seen here but the angle of Porter Creek in relation to the Huntington trestles does not seem to match this view.

The Lake Shore Electric Interurban had two trestles in Bay Village. One was located in what is today Cahoon Park and the other in what is today Huntington Park. Before the two trestles for the Interurban were replaced with concrete piers in 1925 (which still remain today in Huntington Park) they most likely looked like the bridge pictured on the postcard with metal support structures bolted to quarried sandstone piers. A photograph on page 26 of “The Lake Shore Electric Railway Story” by Harwood and Korach shows the interurban bridge over the Rocky River with virtually identical railings, decks, support structures and piers to what is pictured on the postcard. This suggests that the “high level bridge” was actually the interurban trestle on the Clague land but there is no farm building shown on plats in the correct location.

The other Leiter postcard is captioned “Scene from High Level Bridge near N. Dover, O.” It appears to be looking north from the bridge at a mill located on the edge of a creek. If this is from the West Oviatt Bridge then it depicts the Oviatt sawmill. The bend in Cahoon Creek north of West Oviatt Road and possible stone foundation remains on the west bank of the creek seem to support this interpretation. However, the Cahoons also had a sawmill and it is possible that the picture is of their mill which might have been visible north of the Interurban trestle that passed through what is today Cahoon Park roughly in the location of today’s sledding hill. The fact that the tree line appears to end north of the mill makes it easy to imagine one is looking toward Lake Erie. Could it be that the Oviatt bridge and Interurban bridge/trestles were constructed by the same manufacturer and there were multiple “high level” bridges in or near North Dover?

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 30 years. I served on the Bay Village Planning Commission for 5 years. I was a member of the Reuben Osborn Learning Center Steering Committee. I was a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and am a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 38 years and am the father of three grown children, grandfather of four and owner of a Shih Tzu.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:55 AM, 01.21.2020