Cleveland’s Abandoned Railroad Power House

Streetcar Power

In the late-1880’s streetcars powered by horses and mules were commonplace. There was a push in Cleveland to move to an electric railway network. In early 1888, the East Cleveland Railroad Company began construction of a power plant located on the corner of Cedar Avenue and Ashland Road to operate their lines by electric.

This building housing this power plant has a very rich history to say the least. If you would like to learn more about the detailed past of this building, I would suggest clicking here for an excellent article by Sherman Cahal. I would like to share my modern day experience with the building.

Urban Exploring

Exploring with a friend inside the former streetcar power plant

I set out to photograph the building in December 2016 and again during the summer of 2017. As you approach, the grandiose size is the first thing that you notice. The building rises from the corner of Ashland and Cedar and stretches down into the horizon. Since the building closed its doors for the last time in 1979, nature has been steadily taking over. Vines cover the outside of the building during the summer months and give a pleasant appearance.

As you enter the main building I immediately noticed two attributes. The building is surprisingly clean and features a uniform design. The photograph below was taken after exiting the above stairwell onto the second story. Each story of the building (with the top story being the exception) are architecturally identical. The easiest way to differentiate each story is by the different graffiti adorning the walls.

If you take note the floors are neatly swept. I am still perplexed why someone took the time to sweep up dust in a building that is literally crumbling at the seams. The cleanliness of the building adds a certain eeriness to the experience.

A large open corridor once home to power generation equipment.

Making your way up to the third floor provides a great view. A large semi-circle window, which has long been missing the glass pane, offers a great view of the complex. Directly below the window the walls have crumbled. Looking across the vista you can see the remainder of the facility.

The building has no shortage of strange noises and creaks. As you go higher into the building the noises become increasingly alarming. There are two stair cases that serve each floor of the building. Moving higher you feel somewhat trapped as your exit options are limited. Each creak or noise heightens your paranoia that a shady individual has arrived and resides on the floors below you, effectively trapping you inside to avoid crossing their path.

Peering out of a third story window to the remains below

If you are like me, you could spend inordinate amounts of time exploring the fine details of the building. I think beauty can be found in some of the most unexpected areas.

A hanging chain in focus with the building residing in the background
A value of unknown origin bolted shut

The building still serves a purpose to this day. Graffiti artists utilize the building as a place to express themselves without creating public eye sores or damaging personal property. Local police largely look the other way when it comes to enforcing illegal graffiti on the building. Plenty of urban explorers like myself also get great satisfaction from exploring the building.

Graffiti artists still find the building useful today as a safe haven to paint


16 Replies to “Cleveland’s Abandoned Railroad Power House

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