Sometimes I go searching for something and I don’t find it, but the journey becomes interesting (and a little scary) in of itself. In this case, I went looking for the Sidaway Bridge, further up one of the tributaries of the Cuyahoga River, after reading about it online, and besides being fascinated by its structure, I was intrigued by the offhand reference to the valley underneath being the location of John D. Rockefeller’s first refinery.
I guess I sort of figured there would have been some sort of historic marker for where the wealthiest man in human history started his business, but I thought wrong.
I started driving, and needless to say, it was quite the experience; it was getting close to rush hour and the streets were filling up with traffic, as the arteries coming up from downtown were flooded with commuters heading home.
While certainly downtown Cleveland is experiencing a renaissance, much of the city near the old industrial neighborhoods is still suffering from extreme disinvestment and abandonment.
Abandoned houses, deteriorating rapidly due to being constructed as wood frame as opposed to brick, are quickly turning to vacant lots.
Much of what clearly had been close-knit neighborhoods are now increasingly returning to forest and overgrowth.
Finding the eastern approach to the Sidaway Bridge had failed miserably, so I hopped on the Opportunity Corridor, which is even more hilariously named than Planned Industrial Drive in St. Louis, to cross over to the west side of the valley.
Using Google Maps, I found the way to the western entrance, and needless to say, I found a neighborhood that was pretty much emptied out of people.
This warehouse was in the process of being demolished, looking like it had been hit by a tank shell.
But there were still several houses where the owners were holding on, proudly keeping their homes maintained and yards mowed.
So I got to the point where the bridge should have been, but it was so overgrown that I didn’t even get out of the car, and just went about my way. Maybe if it were winter and I had someone with me, I would have gone exploring, but not this time…
Continuing on, I wondered why there was a boat just sitting in this vacant lot, among the old warehouses.
I surveyed some of the other old warehouses and factories in the upper part of the Cuyahoga Valley and away I went.
I thought of how back in the day, at one of the few times workers had time off work, they would have gone to this church.