New York Central Railroad Bridge No. 2

The New York Central Railroad Bridge No. 2, now abandoned, is a vertical lift span located next to the Carter Road Bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.

Table Of Contents


The Cleveland, Cincinnati & Cleveland Railroad, one of Cleveland’s earliest railroads, arrived around September 1849. 2 This prompted the construction of a wooden bridge over the Cuyahoga River near Canal and Vineyard Streets (present-day Canal and Lockwood Drive). 3 In early November 1856, modifications began to transform this fixed bridge into a drawbridge, enhancing the passage for larger ships on the river 5 6 and reducing ice damage to the bridge. 4

In 1868, the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway (CCC&I) was formed from the merger of the CC&C and the Bellefontaine Railway. This entity later became part of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (Big Four) in 1889 after merging with other lines in Indiana and Illinois.

The original drawbridge was replaced in 1902 by a Scherzer Rolling Lift bridge, which provided a 110-foot clear channel. 1 The Big Four was acquired by the New York Central Railroad in 1906, which continued to operate as a separate entity until 1930.

A $11 million project commenced in 1937 to remove hazardous curves and widen the navigational channel of the Cuyahoga River. This project aimed to expand the river’s navigational width and soften sharp curves, following recommendations from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the River and Harbor Committee of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.

The Big Four, succeeded by the New York Central Railroad, replaced the Scherzer Rolling Lift bridge in 1953 with a vertical lift bridge. 1 The new bridge, designed by Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff and constructed by McDowell Wellman of Cleveland, offered a 200-foot clear channel and a 260-foot vertical clearance for ships. It was recognized with the American Institute of Steel Construction Award of Merit for its aesthetic appeal.

In 1968, the New York Central Railroad merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad, resulting in the creation of the Penn Central Transportation Company. Just two years later, in 1970, Penn Central faced financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy. Consequently, many of the lines previously operated by the Big Four Railroad were integrated into Conrail, a government-sponsored entity established in 1976. 7 Among these lines was the River Bed Main Line. 8

The River Bed Main Line saw a significant decline in traffic following the closure of key facilities, including the National Terminal Warehouse and the Big Four Freight Station near the Main Avenue Bridge. This downturn was further exacerbated by the shutdown of various industrial operations in the Flats area along the Cuyahoga River, which had been major users of the rail line.

In 1979, Conrail proposed the abandonment of a 2.4-mile section of the River Bed Main Line, also known as the Clark Branch. 9 This section, stretching from the Lake Erie docks to Literary Street and including the Cuyahoga River Bridge, was deemed surplus to requirements due to the reduced traffic. The formal abandonment of this 2.4-mile section occurred in March 1982. 8 11

However, Conrail continued to serve industries located south of the Cuyahoga River until 1996. In that year, the line was transferred to the Flats Industrial Railroad. The track north of the river, on the other hand, underwent significant reconstruction for use by the Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) Waterfront Line.




  1. Watson, Sara Ruth and John R. Wolfs. Bridges of Metropolitan Cleveland, 1981.
  2. “The N. Y. Tribune of Saturday.” Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette, 24 Jul. 1849, p. 2.
  3. “A Ride on the Rails.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 3 Nov. 1849, p. 2.
  4. “City Items.” Cleveland Leader, 1 Feb. 1856, p. 1
  5. “Railroad Bridges Over Cuyahoga River.” Cleveland Leader, 10 Nov. 1856, p. 1.
  6. “Commenced.” Cleveland Leader, 15 Nov. 1856, p. 3.
  7. Conrail.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  8. System Diagram Map.” Conrail, 1 Apr. 1981.
  9. System Diagram Map.” Conrail, 1 Dec. 1979.
  10. Cleveland, Ohio and Vicinity Railroads and Industries.” Conrail, Oct. 1979.
  11. “Conrail plans 15 line cutback.” News-Messenger, 30 Mar. 1981, p. O3.

1 Comment

Add Yours →

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.