Cutting a huge swath through the heart of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River valley is a sublime sight to behold. It empties out into Lake Erie at Whiskey Island, itself a creation of human hands. Originally the river snaked around another bend, but early on a short new channel was dug, allowing ships to sale up the river.
But Whiskey Island was the last stop for the Great Lakes freighters which unloaded their iron ore cargo, chomped up by the giant Hulett Unloaders.
Working in tandem, they could empty the freighters in record time, since these were bulk freighters, meaning there was one large cargo hold without dividers.
For me, they could not be any more of a symbol of the American industrial age: big, burly and ingenuitive.
And in typical American fashion, there is a very real possibility they will cease to exist. Almost all of them around the cities of the Great Lakes have been scrapped, with the only ones as far a I know still in existence–just two–lying in the weeds of Whiskey Island, endangered in the highest manner possible. And we say that St. Louis is unique in its destruction of its history.
Whiskey Island is still a place where bulk materials are unloaded, including lime for the steel mills further up the valley, and what looks to be coal, but something tells me there was once way more activity. Nowadays, freighters have their own mechanism for unloading.
And then are the bridges. Silhouetted against the early morning sunrise, they are a sight to behold. I suspect they are rarely raised today, as ships seldomly sail up the river.
Below is the channel from the lower Cuyahoga to the lake.
Anyone remember the Pennsylvania Railroad? Its engines would pull massive trains up the valley to the waiting steel mills, whose furnaces could never stop or they would be ruined.
The broad valley of the Cuyahoga River and its almost two hundred years of use for industry cannot be described fully in words, and can only be inadequately contemplated in person. It is the industrial revolution in your face, refusing to be hidden, reminding Cleveland that it powered the ascent of one of the great powerhouses of America.