Digging Up Berea’s Sandstone Railroad Heritage

A group of us were spending a Saturday afternoon underneath the shade tree near the Dave McKay memorial in Berea back in June.

A property owner across the street behind us was using a front end loader to move dirt and remove trees and brush on his property.

During a chance conversation with him he mentioned that he had dug up some old rails.

That turned out not to be the case, but he had dug up some cross ties and a couple of spikes.

Those artifacts, which had been buried for decades were probably remnants of a sandstone quarry railroad that once interchanged with the New York Central in the area that is now Depot Street where railfans like to hang out to watch CSX and Norfolk Southern trains.

Sandstone quarrying was once a major industry in Berea.

Berea Sandstone was particularly ideal for creating grindstones, which is why the grindstone is part of the city’s identity.

Marty Surdyk’s grandfather worked for the quarry railroad and if you know where to look you can see the former right of way and a few bridge abutments that carried the quarry railroad tracks over the East Branch of Rocky River.

Today some of the sandstone quarry lands are part of the Mill Stream Run Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.

I’m told that there was a small yard located where the ties and spikes dug up by that property owner is located.

For something that has been buried for several years, one of the ties looked remarkably well preserved.

The sandstone quarries in Berea closed in the 1930s, a victim of the Great Depression and a declining market for sandstone. The sandstone quarry railroad likely would have shut down at the same time.

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