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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND & BUFFALO TRANSIT CO.

CLEVELAND & BUFFALO TRANSIT CO.

The CLEVELAND & BUFFALO TRANSIT CO. (C&B), a popular steamship line and later a trucking firm, was established by Morris A. Bradley in 1885 and incorporated in 1892, with Bradley as president. Passenger and freight service was initiated between Cleveland and Buffalo on the "State of Ohio" and the "State of New York," leaving Cleveland from the foot of St. Clair Ave, and in 1896, the "City of Buffalo" was added. The "City of Erie" replaced the "State of Ohio" in 1898, providing night service from Cleveland to Toledo. In 1914 Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay were added to the C&B route. As passenger service became increasingly popular, the luxurious "SEEANDBEE," a costly sidewheel passenger steamer, began regular trips between Cleveland and Buffalo in 1913. At that time, the C&B and the Detroit & Cleveland (D&C) line obtained a 50-year lease from Cleveland for property at the foot of 9th St. for $55,000. There the two companies built the E. 9th St. Pier and a new lake terminal, dedicated in 1915; in exchange, the city built a bridge over the E. 9th St. railroad tracks, paved the E. 9th St. approach, and provided a street railway to the pier.

The popularity of passenger excursions in the 1920s led the C&B to buy the "City of Detroit II" from the D&C line. Rebuilt as the "Goodtime," it offered excursions and "moonlight rides" on the Cleveland-Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay route. Automotive transportation began to erode the profitability of lake shipping, and in 1930 C&B began tractor-trailer freight service during the winter months to improve its revenue. The destruction of the "City of Buffalo" by fire in 1938, along with the Depression and increasing competition from trucks and railroads, caused the bankruptcy and liquidation of Cleveland & Buffalo Transit Co. in 1939. The E. 9th St. Pier was transferred to the Lederer Terminal Warehouse Co., and both the "Goodtime" and the "City of Erie" were sold for salvage. Cleveland capital organized a new Cleveland & Buffalo Transit Co. in 1943 and continued the trucking business. The firm grossed about $650,000 a year by 1955, the year it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Forest City Industries, Inc. of Cleveland.