The Eerie Ruins of Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Just south of Cedar Ave in Cleveland, Ohio a cluster of massive abandoned industrial structures line Ashland Road. They were occupied by quite a few companies over the years, but the stonework bears the names of only two: The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

A block away from the abandoned headquarters of Warner & Swasey Company lies the crumbling industrial compound built by The Cleveland Railway Co.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, street railways were a popular form of transportation along Cleveland's main avenues. 

In 1888, when electric railways were beginning to replace horse and mule-powered streetcars, East Cleveland Railroad Company built a power plant for its rail network.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The facility housed enormous steam-powered No. 16 Edison generators, some of the largest of their day. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

In 1890 and 1892 additions were constructed to accommodate more generators to satisfy the growing need. 

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


The handful of companies that operated the city's various rail lines underwent a series of consolidations around the turn of the century. In 1910 a final merger made The Cleveland Railway Co sole operator of Cleveland's transit lines. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric



In 1917 it was determined that the existing plant could not generate enough power to meet the demands of the rail network. Upgrading the facility proved too expensive, so energy production was outsourced to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


After The Cleveland Railway Co's generators spun to a stop, the Cleveland Ice Machine Company operated on the site for a short time. Within a few years, Westinghouse Electric moved in and began using the facilities for the manufacture of electrical components.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

A 5-story building at the southern end of the compound in 1922.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

In 1933, Westinghouse Electric closed the facility and moved to Edgewater Park.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Thompson Products, a producer of automobile and aircraft engine valves, purchased several of the buildings in 1936. The business flourished during WWII when it received massive orders for aircraft parts.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The American victory against Japan brought a steep decline in orders, resulting in hundreds of layoffs. Things improved again in the latter half of the 1940s when the demand for automotive parts began to rise.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

1958 - Thompson Products merged with Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, a developer of radar-guided missile systems, which were used in several defense programs, including the Titan ICBM. The new company was known as Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge until it became TRW Equipment Group in 1963. In the early '60s the company relocated to a new facility in Independence.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Virden Manufacturing Company, a producer of lighting equipment, began to utilize TRW's old facilities in 1963. Before that time, Virdeen had operated out of a factory that once stood on the west side of Ashland Road alongside the Cleveland Railway Co substation.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric
Historic map of the industrial compound
courtesy of http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=5759

When business declined in the 1970s, Virden went through several waves of layoffs before selling the company in 1977. The plant closed permanently in 1979.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

There do not seem to be any plans for reuse of the structures. The buildings are in very rough shape. 

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The nightmarish basements are pitch black and crumbling like old catacombs.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Several buildings in the middle of the compound have been partially demolished.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

After decades of neglect, few windows remain intact.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

It seems unlikely that the compound will ever know industry again.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

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Be sure to check out my next article Toxic and Abandoned: Accurate Plating Company Superfund Site

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9 comments :

  1. Lots of history here--this is one of those complexes that everyone wants to see. It's one of the places that I tend to hit if other explores fail while I'm in the Cleveland area. One time while recovering from surgery I had my nephew drive me here and we explored the basement, finding Virden Co. paychecks. As you may know, this is also the place where a scene from The Avengers was filmed--a Black Widow fight scene that can be found on YouTube.

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    Replies
    1. It is such an amazing place. Way more history than I could cram into this article. So neat that you found old paychecks there. I love finding old documents, especially those that have dates on them.

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  2. Replies
    1. Agreed. I don't mind the artistic stuff as much as the mindless tagging and scribbling.

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