New and exciting sounds were heard in North Dover in 1882 with the beat of the steam locomotive exhaust, the shrill call of a whistle and the rumble of iron wheels on steel rails.
Clifton Aldrich and his dad rode on their manure spreader to see the first green and red locomotive come through. Joel Cahoon was taken by his sons in their wagon to see the newly laid track that Joel always said would come.
This train with the ambitious name became the “Nickel Plate.” The generally accepted story involves the rivalry between Norwalk and Bellevue, Ohio, with each bidding for the line to come through its town. Bellevue won, but the Norwalk Chronicle editor name it “the great, nickel-plated railroad” and the term became a nickname. Eventually, even the locomotives and cars were so marked. It was primarily a freight hauler but carried passengers, too.
The railroad station was the center of all the comings and goings in town. We remember that the Cahoon family negotiated the placement of the station on their property in Dover Township on the north side of the tracks in return for the track being laid through their property for lease.
Excerpted from “Bay Village: A Way of Life” is the following explanation of a day at the Dover, Ohio, train station:
“An air of anticipation hovered about the station. Things are about to happen. Folks were gathering; the men in tight-legged trousers, high choker collars and derby hats; the ladies with wasp waists, bustles and voluminous skirts all topped with impossibly huge hats. Baggage trucks are piled high with trunks, sacks of mail, boxes of grapes, crates of baby chicks, milk cans, and mysterious packages addressed to far way places.
“Then in the distance, the sound of the whistle. The train was coming. The people could see it down the track and picked up their suitcases as it swept to a hissing, steaming halt before them. With the brakes grinding and sparks flying from the wheels, the conductor stepped off almost before the train stopped. The ladies daintily lifting their skirts were helped on by the conductor, while the men followed. The baggage man boosted the trunks and mail and boxes into the baggage car.
“Then the word, ‘Board,’ called as only a railroad conductor could call it, a wave of his hand to the engineer, two toots of the whistle, the sharp bark of the engine, and the train rapidly disappeared down the track. The station was quiet again. Only the telegraph sounder clicked, and the wind hummed in the wires overhead.“
This little scene was repeated many times over the years at Dover Station in our Bay Village. The Travelers Official Guild for June 14, 1893, shows eight passenger trains a day stopping at Dover with trains east bound to Cleveland, Conneaut, Buffalo or westbound to Fort Wayne and Chicago. A 1914 Nickel Plate folder entitled “Summer Outings” is illustrated with idyllic fishing and bathing beach scenes.
In a list of country homes for summer boarders are Mrs. George Miller who only accepted women at 75 cents a day and lived 200 feet from the track, and Mr. Henry Wischmeyer who could board 40 people and charged one dollar a day to be on the beach.
North Dover businessmen caught the train at the station for Cleveland. They could conduct their business and be home in a day. The Cahoon sisters, who taught school in Cleveland, took the train to the station and got off at the Cahoon Store, were picked up there and taken to their home on Cahoon Road for the weekend. It made life so easy.
Soon the train was not the only way to go. Horseless carriages became popular and offered more independence, and the trains no longer made a stop at Dover. Through the 1940s, the station remained in use to receive freight and express, but finally it was closed.
In 1963, it was given to Bay Village. How fortunate we are that today it stands in Huntington Reservation. For many years it was the headquarters for Baycrafters. They used it as their Station Shop for the consignment of artists’ works for sale. Some years ago a Victorian Tea Room was added in the back of the building with the consignments still in the front waiting room. A caboose was brought in next to the station to complete the scene. When Baycrafters became Bayarts, the station became Vento Restaurant.