BRADLEY TRANSPORTATION, a major local builder of lake vessels, was at one time the largest single vessel owner in the city. The firm was founded in 1868 by Ahira Cobb and Capt. ALVA BRADLEY, a Connecticut-born seaman who turned from sailing to shipbuilding in 1841. The business was centered in Vermilion until 1859, when Bradley came to Cleveland and Cobb sold out his interest. The shipyards were fully moved to Cleveland in 1868 on the east bank of the Cuyahoga at the foot of St. Clair Ave., and Bradley began building about 1 lake vessel a year. Bradley's son, Morris, joined the business in 1868 and urged its incorporation in 1882. The elder Bradley died in 1885, leaving his son with a fortune invested in real estate and iron and steel enterprises. Morris Bradley managed Bradley Transportation, making the company a prominent member of the LAKE CARRIERS ASSN., an alliance of steamship companies for which Bradley served as the first president. Increasingly, Morris turned his attention to real-estate development, and when he died in 1926, the Bradley Real Estate Company was one of the largest holders of downtown real estate. The Bradley Building at W. 6th and Lakeside Ave., designed and erected in 1884-85 by architects FRANK CUDELL and JOHN N. RICHARDSON, bears the family name. As late as 1927, Bradley Transportation was apparently building vessels, its latest being the Carl D. Bradley, a 638' freighter. However, the corporate listing no longer appeared in city directories after 1915.


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Alva Bradley Family Papers. WRHS.

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