Sunday, June 10, 2007

Have you been to Ashtabula lately?

I hadn't for a long time. I'm not sure why we ended up here today. It's a town that still focuses on shipping, especially coal, but not much else is going on. It has a great beach park east of the city with plenty of swimmers, sun-bathers and Frisbee flipping. The main street leading to the river focuses on tourist shops.

My wife, Mary, lived in Ashtabula while doing a journalism internship during her college days. We saw the apartment she lived in and it looked pretty good. The town has nice bluff which overlooks the river. It's next to a maritime museum.

The name Ashtabula is Iroquois for "river of many fish". I hope that is true today the way we've damaged so many of our fresh water rivers during the industrial era.

Here's a view of the Ashtabula river from the bluff. This would be a great place to sit in the evenings and watch the river traffic with all the lights. Maybe some evening we'll come back and get some night shots.

The most noticeable thing on the river is the conveyor belt that is suspended across the river. Material, mostly ores, coal, stones, are lifted over the water through the conveyor. My father, Paul, worked for the company, Dravo-Wellman, which built the conveyor. He was the project estimator and helped develop the conveyor spec.

Looking the other way from the bluff is this busy jack knife bridge.

It uses a gigantic, concrete counter-weight to lift the bridge.

This picture is toward the end of the main drag going toward the river. As you can see it has that early 20th century construction and charm.

There is always something quirky and charming about Midwest towns. Their pasts were often prosperous but their future seem unsettling. Will they get swallowed up by time and neglect or can they make a new present? Ashtabula, we're pulling for ya!

Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.

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