The Toledo Beach Amusement Park was a popular destination

A while ago I wrote about the beach and amusement park at Monroe Piers, located near the American Ship Canal.

As I have said, the Detroit Monroe & Toledo Short Line Railroad (DM&T) purchased the beach area in 1901 with the intention of “making this beach four miles east of Monroe the finest of the lakes,” as reported by Joseph A. of Toledo. Galloway in the publication “Interurban Trails” (sponsored by the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society) – written in the mid-1940s. These plans also called for the creation of a wagon park in Monroe Piers.

Another intercity amusement park was the Toledo Beach Amusement Park – owned and developed by the Toledo Rail Light and Power Company on property that was originally the Ottawa Beach Resort – a 400-acre property that is today the site of the Toledo Beach Marina and has a LaSalle Township address.

Local Monroe historian David Eby featured the Toledo Beach Amusement Park on these pages in October 2020 and mentioned that the intercity brought riders from Toledo to Lakeside, Lakewood, Allen’s Cove and Luna Pier. He mentioned that many runners didn’t even know they had crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan.

The Toledo, Ottawa Beach and Northern Railway intercity line is pictured near its Toledo Beach stop, circa 1900. According to an October 2020 Monroe News article by Monroe County historian David Eby, the intercity brought passengers from Toledo via Lakeside, Lakewood, Allen's Cove and the Luna Pier to LaSalle and Toledo Beach.

The Toledo Rail Light and Power Company’s intercity line – Toledo, Ottawa Beach and Northern Railway – would run from Summit Street through downtown Toledo through Point Place and along the east side of present-day I-75, to at Luna Pier (on present-day Harold Drive) and ended with a stop at Toledo Beach, as described in a blog post describing southeast Michigan attractions of the past.

My investigation of the Toledo, Ottawa Beach and Northern Railway intercity line was prompted by a message I received from the Honorable James Gardner, Mayor of Luna Pier, who shared with me the following story about the community he runs: “People seem to be fascinated when people talk about how the old intercity line played a vital role in the early development of Luna Pier. We had a neighbor who died in 2004 just 100 who recounted how her father was a prominent business owner, society man and founding member of the Toledo Museum of Art in what is now the Old West End from Toledo.

This photo shows bathers at the Toledo Beach amusement park in LaSalle, circa 1950s. After functioning as an amusement park and gathering place on Lake Erie, the site later became the Toledo Beach Marina.

Mayor Gardner continued, “To escape the sweltering city heat before air conditioning, families lived at Luna Pier during the summer, relying on the streetcar as the men commuted to work while the women and children enjoying the cool breeze on the lake. In the fall, everyone went back to town. I suspect that the pier which opened in 1923 also relied on the intercity line, although it was in decline at this time due to the growth of Henry Ford’s automobile business.

He adds, “Today we have an original bridge span over Whitewood Creek (LaPointe Drain) and the powerhouse walls are still standing on the Toledo Beach Marina property. The original railroad line through Luna Pier to the Toledo Beach Amusement Park is now Harold Drive, my front yard being the old roadbed from when the car line and the road were parallel. All of our longtime residents are familiar with the line of cars, but only a few realize that it’s what has made our town such an attractive resort town. “

These are the tracks of the Toledo, Ottawa Beach and Northern Railway intercity line bridge that spans Whitewood Creek, known today as the LaPointe Drain.  The rail line ran through Luna Pier to the Toledo Beach Amusement Park and operated for the first two decades of the 20th century.

Mayor Gardner’s interesting story is well told in the lore of intercity parks, including how the development of the Toledo Beach Amusement Park led to the demise of the Lake Erie Amusement Park and Casino (1895-1910 ). Lake Erie fires and pollution have made Toledo Beach more attractive to visitors.

Tom Adamich is president of the Visiting Librarian Service, a business he has operated since 1993. He is also a project archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and Family Archives.

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