Thursday, October 14, 2010


After a nice breakfast buffet at our hotel on Neville Island, we headed northward and westward for Cleveland, Ohio.  Originally, I had intended on confining ourselves to Pittsburgh, but with Cleveland only 2.5hrs away I figured a day trip was in order.   We hit a short glitch after I fell asleep and my wife took the wrong highway toward Akron.  We detoured through Ravenna, Ohio to get back on the main road and found an interesting industrial structure - your standard brick construction but with these huge open stacks/ventilators on the roof ridge - not sure what the purpose of them was or what they made there - Ill post a photo.  I didn't have a good map of Cleveland, but what I did have was a most excellent 1996 Lineside Article by John Teichmoeller, basically a guide book.  We used this to tour the "Flats" - the part of Cleveland that contained much of it's industry.   Most of the time we spent driving around the AM Steel Mill there, formerly Republic Steel.  There is a public road that goes right through the part of the mill on the eastern side of the river - this includes the con-caster and the BOP shop, locomotive facilities, and a few other things - the hot side of the plant is on the opposite side of the river and is less accessible.    We almost ended up at the railroad crossing while a train with subs crossed but just missed it - took some photos as we were driving in earnest to get there.  You could probably just lurk on this road  and eventually get a real nice shot of a passing hot metal train but we didn't have the time.  As John stressed in his article, this is a two person operation - a driver and photographer/navigator - it would be hard to do solo.  After taking John's tour we headed toward Lake Erie with the hopes of getting on Whiskey Island and viewing the dismantled Huletts - we did get on the island actually over a one lane draw bridge before we realized that we shouldn't have crossed the bridge as it was all private industry owned land or railroad and also we didn't have a transportation ID card for port areas either - we quickly turned around but were almost run off the road by some Norfolk Southern Road Crews - we ended up seeing what they were rushing too - a strip club a few blocks away for lunch or whatever.  We spent a little time photographing the area right near the end of the river - some sort of materials storage silos and some interesting brick building  and bridges.  From there we drove down the lakefront and got off at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Once there we both didn't really feel like visiting this museum, I'm sure it's interesting, but just not my thing and my thrifty wife wasn't thrilled with the hefty fee of $22.   However, something much more interesting for me loomed just beyond the modern rock and roll building - the Willam G. Mather, a 600 foot lakes bulk carrier, from the Cleveland Cliffs shipping line.  For a very reasonable $6 you were free to roam this vessel.  This was one of the highlights of the trip.  It was pleasing to see a ship museum for a change that wasn't a warship.  I know for most that makes it boring, but for me quite the opposite.  We always new it was just a short diversion and I spent more time than expected on the William Mather so we left Cleveland.  There were a few other very interesting looking industrial areas that we will have to visit again on a separate trip. 
From Cleveland we drove back to Pittsburgh with a stop in Warren, Ohio, the site of an operating steel mill and coke works.  With no detailed map of the area we just drove through looking for railroad tracks to lead us to blast furnace stacks,.etc..  Along the way we found a small monument to Neil Armstrong who was from the area.  Eventually, I spotted the BF and found the mill to be bisected by two public roads.  I was able to get some photos but none real good.  I did stop outside the fence on a side road and watch the ore yard crane filling up a transfer car.  This vantage point is right in front of the heavily fortified Ohio Outlaw Bikers "Headquarters" so forewarned.   Leaving Warren we still had plenty of energy and the mills of Weirton, WV,  Steubenville, OH, and Mingo Junction, OH didn't seem to far away and sort of on the way back to Pittsburgh.   
We arrived in Weirton, WV in the early evening after passing by some film crews set up on the highway just north of town.  They were filming the movie World War Z - a zombie movie staring Brad Pitt.  We must have been the last car the police let through as just past the camera set ups we passed a convoy of 1950's or 60's army vehicles with soldiers escorting a another convoy of vintage cars full of people with luggage strapped down on the roofs.   As far as blast furnaces go, Weirton's are by far the easiest to photograph - you can almost touch them from unoccupied streets and the remained of the mill is bisected by several roads, affording good views of the BOP and other buildings.  The only problem was the low angle sun of the early evening made photography of the furnace hard.  Heading south along the Ohio River, the Steubenville mill was almost impossible to photograph except maybe from the river or from a moving car on the highway.  Further south, the mill at Mingo Junction was easy to photograph, again from public roads and the hills overlooking the mill.  The blast furnaces are set in a bit and perpendicular to the river so they are a bit far away in the photos - overall - three neat old mills that probably will all be gone in the nearer future - if you can, get out there this fall or winter.

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