My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

history

Sunrise 115: Eden Park (Reservoir Ruins, Hotel Alms, Clear Skies)

Sunrise 115 @ Eden Park

Twin Lakes. Apparently there used to be a quarry here about 150 years ago.

Looking down from Eden Park’s upper overlook

The ruins of the old water reservoir in Eden Park

I took advantage of the latest sunrise of the entire year, that also happened to be on a beautifully clear morning, and got up extra early on Saturday morning. I left my place at 7:10am and rode, for the first time during this project, to Eden Park in Mt. Adams. Eden Park is known to be one of the most scenic and historic parks in the city. It sits next to the Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory, on top of ruins from the old Cincinnati Water Works Reservoir, and has many memorials and two overlooks. I’ve never visited the park for sunrise and I have to say it was an impressive location. The lower two overlooks (there is a “main” overlook next to the Twin Lakes and a lesser known upper overlook by a turn of the century brick water tower) look directly East over the bend in the Ohio River. The benches on the overlook (and their cherry tree companions) appear to be deliberately aligned with the sunrise. I have wanted to get up to Eden Park for sunrise for the entirety of this project, but I was inspired by the recent 105 year old postcards that I recently found at an Antique Mall featuring Eden Park at the turn of the last century. One of the postcards depicts a peaceful scene at Mirror Lake in 1906, the other depicts the entrance to alms park with the infamous Elsinore Arch (not featured in today’s post) which was constructed as a piece of the Cincinnati water system.

I hopped around through the park and checked out only some of the major attractions. I’d like to spend a few more sunrises at Eden Park to get to know more of the memorials and historic buildings. It’s one of the oldest parks in the city and used to be one of the main vineyards during the mid 1800s that supported the German catholic wine scene. There is enough history surrounding the park to fill several posts so I’m going to keep it mostly brief. Check out this document from Cincinnati Parks that gives some insight into the “Master Plan”.

It’s still dark when I pulled up to Eden Park. This picture looks East and if you follow the river back around to the right, you’ll find the tip of the ridge that Alms Park lives on.

If you’re on the front page, you may as well click to continue. About 50 pictures total. (more…)


Sunrise 114: Alms Park (Colorful Autumn Skies, 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati)

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Sunrise 114 @ Alms Park

A bit later in this post I talk about a paper that was sent over the November Cincinnati Parks E-letter that covers the 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati. For reference, I saved it locally to my server for historic purposes. It’s a quick and interesting read. “The City of 7 Valleys”

After Tuesday’s perfectly clear skies and yesterday’s clear skies with a touch of cloudy, I was curious to see how this morning’s sunrise would come to be. The forecast called for 40% cloud cover which puts us right into the possibility of a very colorful and unique sunrise, depending on if the cloud cover is whispy, thick, patchy, or anything else. As it turned out, the cloud cover was what I would consider to be “whispy”. The sun was partially blocked as it came up, but it did eventually shine through in a bright orange aura. It was a bit of a humid morning, I think, because the colors did not really spread out through the open sky as you would normally expect. Rather, they stayed compact around the sun’s opening location, keeping the sky looking beautiful and full of reds and oranges. If this gradual build up of cloud cover with minimal wind continues, tomorrow should be either breathtakingly dynamic or boring with full cloud cover. No signs of the rain storms that are forecasted for today, but seeing as how it’s rained every Thursday for the last 5 weeks I wouldn’t hold my breathe! Our Thursday night Softball league is more backed up than a vegetarian after their first experience with a 17-meat extra cheese pizza.

On my ride up to the park I was treated with a spectacular deep purple show. It was one of those mornings where I could have arrived a half an hour early and had plenty to watch. As the sun approaches from beyond the horizon, the light in the low-wavelength spectrum shows up first. That would be the deep purples fading in from blue. I’m not sure about the science behind it, but it probably relates to why you can hear bass through a wall but no vocals or high-hats. Low-frequency waves tend to penetrate further. But I digress. The entire low part of the atmosphere, from the east to the west, was lit up with this magenta color that was not noticeable in the mid or upper sky. I was hoping to get to the park in time to get a picture of the colors, but they were gone as quickly as they showed up. That’s the funny thing about sunrises – you really never know what you’re going to get. It all depends on how clear or cloudy the sky is and what the humidity is like.

I arrived at the park about 5 minutes before sunrise. The sky was already ripe with orange colors and the clouds were reflecting brightly.

At this point the purples are all gone and the orange is starting to blaze.

To the right we see the historic deco Mt. Washington Water Tower. Do you know what’s really neat? I read this document from the Cincinnati Parks on how this area used to be as flat as the rest of Ohio. About 40,000 years ago the glaciers melted and the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers were born. The thing that makes Cincinnati’s geography so neat is that all of the peaks of the controversial “Seven Hills” (or as the document put it: the Seven Valleys) are at almost exactly the same elevation. I’ve come to know this personally as I bike around for this project between many local parks. There are several parks that I wasn’t even aware of until now. The parks that all live at the peak elevations of various hills are: Ault Park, Alms Park (forgot about that spectacular picture of thunder heads), Larz Anderson ParkEden Park, Devou ParkBellevue Hill Park, Fairview Park, Mt. Echo Park, French Park (no overlook), Drake Park (looks like there are no quality pictures of the view from this park – it’s on the way to my work so I’ll have to stop by some morning for sunrise), and probably a few others. (By the way have you picked up on it, yet? Cincinnati Park Board is amazing).
But the point, dear reader, is that all of these parks are at the top of their respective hills, and most have overlooks that look out over the Ohio & Little Miami River Valley. At one time, about 40,000 years ago, you would have been able to walk directly from any one of these hill-top parks to any other hill-top park without changing elevation. It was flat! That may seem obvious given what we know now about the formation of the glaciers, but I find it uniquely Cincinnati that all of the parks are at about the same elevation but they are located all over the region, scattered between Cincinnati Proper, outside the city limits, and into Kentucky. I also find it hard to believe that I am just now discovering (or, rather, discovering with purpose and detail) how fantastic Mt. Echo Park is. Did you see the pictures of the overlook?! That’s a sunrise location if I’ve ever seen one!

… moving on.  Here we are back at Alms Park (but I can’t stop thinking about Mt. Echo Park. Maybe I should take advantage of these late sunrise times and make it out there by 7:45am! Only two days left before DST ends…)

A final shot of Sunrise 114. While the humidity was apparently high, the sun light got bright quickly. I’m not sure what to make of that because normally in a high humidity atmosphere the sun stays muffled and it takes awhile for the light to penetrate the atmosphere.


Sunrise 83: Ault Park (Troy, Ohio Historic Teaser, Foggy Summer Sunrise)

Foggy Summer Sunrise

After taking yesterday off (all these Sunday bike trips are wearing me out!), I was up and ready to go for the sunrise this morning. If you notice, today is “Sunrise 83″, and the previous post is “Sunrise 81″. What happened to “Sunrise 82″? I actually did the 82nd sunrise Sunday morning with my friend and my dad up in Troy, OH. I alluded to the possibility of a “Troy Sunrise” on Saturday’s post but I wasn’t sure if all of the pieces would fall into place. We did end up going around my hometown of Troy, Ohio and exploring the old Hobart steel houses and remnants of the old Miami-Erie canal. We ended the trip by heading down the Great Miami Bike Path, which is part of the rails to trails program, where we checked out the ruins of an old lock, built sometime in the early mid 1800s. I haven’t finished the write-up from sunrise 82, so I’ve decided to include three of my favorite pictures from that set. If you want to check out the preview of the steel homes, warehouse ruins, and canal lock ruins, click through to the end of the article :)

I can’t believe how late these sunrises are getting. I left the house by 6:35am and still had about 10 minutes of pre-sunrise dawn by the time I got up to the overlook. The sky was crystal clear with some whispy clouds above the horizon and thick patches of fog down in the valley. I even saw three people at the overlook this morning – a woman and her cute little puppy, an ault park morning “regular” – Don, a meditating cyclist – and one of the park service guys. I’m honestly surprised it’s taken me this long to meet someone like Don at these sunrises. Don says that he used to do Thai-Chi sunrise meditations with a group of friends. We also talked about cycling and watching the sunrise is one of the best ways to start the day. Don also shared his satisfaction with watching the sunrise from Lunken Airfield. It seems I’ve met another sunrise cowboy ;) Maybe I’ll see you around, Don!

The valley down below had a substantial amount of fog. I wanted to drop down and bike through the wet clouds of moisture, but with these late sunrise times I realized that I probably didn’t have enough time. More reason to get up at 6am instead of 6:30am!

The sun , creepin’ up over that horizon.

Sunrise 83

A vertical shot for the ladies

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 28 pictures total, including the last 3 pictures that serve as a teaser for “Sunrise 82″: 1920s Hobart Brothers Steel House, Mid 1800s canal warehouse, and ruins of a Miami-Erie Canal Lock. (more…)


Sunrise 80 (!!!!): The Cincinnati Observatory & Ault Park (Eastern Tour, Stunning Cincinnati Summer Dawn)

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This is the sky 20 minutes before sunrise. Deep orange fading into a gradient blue, a color palette that I expect to see 20 minutes AFTER sunrise on a hot humid day.

The Cincinnati Observatory. For months I’ve tried to take a picture of the observatory against the sunrise but I could never get a decent frame. This morning I decided to try it from the back of the building, and I wasn’t disappointed. By far my favorite picture of the day.

This morning was another beautiful clear summer sky. It also marks my 80th sunrise – exactly twice the original goal of 40 sunrises. I originally had planned doing a full tour through the East Side, starting a half hour before sunrise, and featuring all the major stops along the way. This 11-mile (closer to 18 if both lunken loop and armleder loop are considered) route would have featured:

  1. Mt. Lookout Square and a coffee stop @ UDF (or Lookout Joe’s if they’re open!)
  2. The Cincinnati Observatory
  3. Ault Park & Heekin Overlook
  4. Down the hill to historic Linwood, past Crusade Castle.
  5. Past the St. Stephen Italianate church on the corner and the mysterious “Smoke Sonada Cigars” mosaic
  6. Linwood Public School (abandoned elementary school)
  7. Over the cement stairs, across the rail road, and over to Armleder Park
  8. Around Armleder Park’s loop and a view of the Little Miami River
  9. Back to Eastern Ave past LeBlonde’s old factory, towards Lunken Airfield
  10. Lunken Terminal and the Bike path, along with the Pioneer Cemetery
  11. The Wilmer/Carrel bike path and the Revolutionary War Cemetery
  12. Beyond the school-on-stilts to the Ohio River Launch Club marina and Ohio River
  13. Back through Columbia Tusculum’s historic district and East End’s 1860s farm-style buildings
  14. Up the hill past the painted homes to Alms Park
  15. Around Alms, with the view of Lunken Airfield and an eastern view down the river. Maybe check out the old 1869 wine cellar.
  16. Past St. Ursula Villa (LeBlond’s old home) back to Mt. Lookout Square.

And probably much more. Man, the act of going through and finding those pictures for the links really made me appreciate just how much “footage” I have of this area! I promise to re-visit the “best-of” section (top right of this website). I’ve kind of let it go on purpose because I can really appreciate the seasonal change when I pick out the best pictures two months later.


As it turns out, I started off the route correctly (at UDF and the Cincinnati Observatory) but I ended up being so social at Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook that I didn’t make it down into the valley! That’s OK though because I met a nice gentlemen named Bill and we talked for about 40 minutes about Cincinnati history and various little pieces of trivia. I learned a lot and he even filled in some long standing mysteries I had about the cement stairs down on Columbia Parkway. I also spoke with Aaron, a guy who works with the park service, for a bit about what it’s like being a horticulturist and working for the park all day. Looks like I’ll have to post-pone this route until next week!

I left my place at around 6:10am to give myself lots of “headroom” for taking pictures of the dawn sky before the sun came up. I’ve realized that these clear summer atmosphere’s provide an absolutely excellent pre-sunrise display. In the spring, when there are more clouds and more humidity, the post-sunrise light is the best. But on these clear mornings with low humidity, the sky starts to light up at least 40 minutes before sunrise. It’s outstanding!

After looking back on these pictures, I realize that I took a lot of vertical sky shots.

Arriving at the Observatory with at least 20 minutes to spare before sunrise. Already the sky is getting lit up.

I wanted to get another picture of the cornerstone. This is the original cornerstone from the Mt. Adams building, before the lens was moved to Mt. Lookout in 1873. John Quincy Adams laid it down.

The sky opposite of the sunrise (western sky) was a light pink and blue. I couldn’t quite capture the purple tones, but you get the idea.

If you’re on the front page, be sure to keep reading. About 17 pictures total, and today’s foggy sunrise was excellent! (more…)


Sunrise 68: Ault Park (Fog, Bellevue Hill Park, and Cincinnati Inclined Rail Stations)

Looking out towards Lunken Airfield to the west. The forest is dark and misty.

Looking at Downtown from Bellevue Hill Park in Clifton

This morning’s update is a bit of a strange one. My week has been in limbo because my car is in the shop getting checked out. The nice side effect of this transportation issue is that I’ve been forced to rely on my bike a lot more than I normally am used to. I’ve commuted to work twice (never done that before) and realized that the 6.5mi commute is seriously not bad. I can do it in 25 minutes which is comparable to the 15 minutes it takes by car. The route is mostly residential and feels safe. I also commuted to the University of Cincinnati campus yesterday, a bit longer of a stretch. The heat was intense (around 90F) and I think my body wanted the extra sleep this morning to make up for the extra physical activity. Long story short, yesterday I wasn’t able to get near my laptop (I keep it at work) so sunrise 68 is coming at you a day late. That’s OK though because I was able to scope out Bellevue Park, one of my favorites in Clifton that I don’t get to visit nearly enough, and realized some historically significant facts about it. Notch one more up for my respect to the Cincinnati Parks program.

If you’re on the front page you might as well click on now, there are some great pictures (and old high-def historical prints compliments of shorpy.com) (more…)


Sunrise 46: Ault Park & East End (LeBlond’s Eastern Ave Factory, Lunken Terminal, Revolutionary War Cemetery)

Sunrise @ Lunken!

Post-Industrial Rail Art

LeBlond’s Eastern Factory’s Rail Yard

I wasn’t able to get out on the bike over the weekend so this morning was a bit stiff. It is always interesting how much I feel the difference in my legs after a couple of days of not riding. There was a patchy haze in the air as I pedaled up to the overlook. The park was hopping this morning with joggers and dog walkers. I must have passed 6 pairs of people by the time I reached Heekin overlook. The temperature was a cool 60F and it felt wonderful. Unfortunately there was a thick fog over the valley that obscured the morning sunrise. Seeing as how I hadn’t any miles on the bike since Friday I decided to try out a new route that is inspired by my recent trips down to Lunken Airfield from Alms Park.

So much fog.

Looking out at Lunken Airfield to the west, where I’m soon to visit.

A bit of orange in the hazy sky.

Best sunrise I could get at the overlook.

Classic Overlook with lots of fog.

A couple weeks ago, when I hopped down to Armleder Park for the foggy sunrise, I discovered that there was easy access to Eastern Avenue down below Ault Park. I believe Eastern Ave from Ault Park to Lunken Airfield is the only road that in the area I haven’t explored by now. I typically make it to Lunken only after passing by Alms Park so I was excited to check it out.

As it turned out, I had a great morning ride. I got some pictures of Lunken Terminal Lobby, found LeBlond’s original factory on Eastern, discovered an old pioneer cemetery (that is different from the other pioneer cemetery in Columbia Tusculum), documented some of the old rail structures that are being preserved as part of the Ohio River trail, and took plenty of foggy pictures. The route I did today for the first time might be my new favorite “easy” ride. It hits on almost every major theme in the area. Here’s a map of the route, that covers:

  • Ault Park and residential neighborhood
  • Down past Crusade Castle to Linwood
  • Past Linwood Public School and all the late-1800s churches
  • LeBlond’s old factory, rail yard, and abandoned industry
  • Lunken Airfield & Columbia’s Pioneer Cemetary. Accessible to the 5-mile bike trail around Lunken
  • Carrel / Wilmer bike path past the Revolutionary War cemetery.
  • Through East End, including the business district and historic houses
  • To the Ohio River Launch Club / river access
  • Up through Columbia Tusculum historic district
  • Alms Park is at the top of the hill, hit it or continue past.
  • Back through the old residential area to Mt. Lookout Square.

Leaving Ault Park.

I headed down the hill past Crusade Castle. I hoped to make it to Lunken Airfield and explore some of the “old” East End / Linwood. The humidity was so thick in parts that I felt like someone was spraying me with a bottle of water. Not bad at all.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue —-> (more…)


Sunrise 36: Ault Park (RK LeBlond Factory, United States Printing Company and Playing Card Company, Murdocks, and much more)

This morning was the first time I have “skipped” a sunrise. By means of coincidental timing and a wife who wishes me to stay intact and electrically solvent, I stayed in bed while the electrical Armageddon took place outside our window at exactly 6:00am. I was considering hopping on my lightly isolated steel lightning rod and riding up to the top of the mountain but I’m grateful that Amanda made the call without me having to :). The timing of the morning storm was impeccable, at 5:30am I had woken up early, noting that the rain that passed through at 3:00am had stopped. But by the time sunrise approached, a new front rolled through the area and brought with it intense electrical behavior, including several thunderous cracks that lit up someone’s tree in the immediate vicinity. I opted instead to finish writing the article from Saturday, Sunrise 36, which involves my most adventurous exploration yet. Knowing that I would still have a post to make for today made it that much easier to not venture out into the chaos.

Fair warning – lots of pictures here, sorry if it slows down your computer!

I got up with the sun on Saturday morning and went exploring around the area, this time deciding to venture north a bit. The only real item on the agenda for the morning was getting up to the Rookwood Pavilion and seeing what I could find out first hand about the remnants of the old R.K. LeBlond factory. I found out about the history behind the factory after exploring the St. Ursula Villa, which was LeBlond’s old estate. I had heard that the old industrial site had sits at what is now the Rookwood Pavilion, a shopping area developed in the mid 1990s. The developers, as it turned out, were respectful enough to keep the old factory and “smoke stack” intact. The factory building itself is now a Don Pablo’s Mexican Grill. I also explored the now-defunct rail line that runs to the south of the pavilion as well as the grassy “urban prairie” to the north of the shopping district that at one time was a small neighborhood that succumbed to the “eminent domain” of over-zealous developers whose plans have themselves succumbed to the recent recessionary period. I continued north up small residential connectors into territory I’ve never explored by car or bike, and stumbled onto the beautifully grandiose “United States Printing Company” and the “United States Playing Card Company”, a building that surprisingly enough was even more impressive.

The Sunrise

After the break in the overcast weather by the great sunrise Friday morning, I was hoping for another colorful morning at the overlook. The morning sunrise was marked with a haze in the atmosphere and a light layer of upper atmosphere clouds. Once again a thick layer of fog had settled down into the valley, causing me to consider altering my proposed “RK LeBlond Exploration” in favor of a southern valley exploration. I have been meaning to take pictures of Lunken Airport and a morning with thick fog and a clear morning sun would provide some fantastic lighting opportunities. In the end I saved this for another day, although I put off making a decision about it for another hour or so – wondering if I could in fact do both.

If you’re on the main page, click to continue. 100+ pictures in total today –> (more…)


Sunrise 29: Ault & Armleder Park (Fog in the Prairie, Linwood Public School, Our Lady of Loretta, Murdock Fountains)

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click for higher quality!This weather is just too beautiful. I keep having these visions of getting up for the sunrise, taking some pictures and getting them online in a half hour, and then starting off work at around 7:30am so that I can be done early and enjoy the evening. But once again, I found myself in a unique spring morning filled with densely packed fog sitting down in the Little Miami river valley.

A note on productivity before I continue. I waited to post this until lunch time because this morning I had a realization that would boost my “wordpress productivity” by 3-fold. I already have a python script I wrote to process the images, resize them, put “(c) ault park sunrise” on the bottom, re-orient if necessary, and ask me what the file should be named. That helps a ton and has been great so far. The main problem with taking too many pictures is that wordpress, as great as it is, is kind of clunky when it comes to adding pictures to a post. You have to do like 4 clicks, each taking a few seconds to load, for every single picture. It can be monotonous and frustrating if I’m running late. In a flash of ingenuity I realized this morning that I can add raw html to the wordpress post (I never really use that feature), so what I did was throw in a simple command at the end of the script that dumps out html that I can copy and paste (since the script already knows the image filenames) directly into the posting to insert all the pictures at once. I wrapped that feature up at lunch time and I’m happy to say it seems to work. I’ll publish it soon if anyone else is interested in using it, it really takes the technical annoyances out of this project so I can focus on other, more important things, like biking, history, and pictures :)

click for higher quality!Notice the ridges you can barely see in the background.

click for higher quality!Super Fog

As I left my apartment I noticed that there was a slight haze to the air, a bit more than usual, but nothing close to what I would call fog. As I approached the overlook, however, I realized that the entire river valley was completely submerged in a thick blanket of fog, no doubt caused by the proximity to the swollen little miami river. I imagine that the Ohio River is just as foggy and the view from Alms Park would have been incredible. Seeing as how I didn’t have much to look at up at the overlook, and that even the fog was hard to capture correctly without the picture turning out drab and dreary, I decided that it would be a fun exercise to see if I could “catch the fog”, so to speak, by climbing down the mountain (280ft decent over about .8 miles) and attempting to, for the first time, figure out a way to get to Armleder Park on my bike. As it turns out I got sucked back up into some more history, after the historical vineyard ride from Sunday; a trend likely to continue. If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. If nothing else check out the pictures after the fog broke a bit – towards the bottom. (more…)


Sunrise 25: Ault Park (Foggy Valley, Crusade Castle Vineyard, St. Ursula Villa and R.K. LeBlond, Columbia-Tusculum, and Alms Park Vineyard)

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This post is technically a day late two days late but that’s better than never :). This write up took much longer than I had anticipated, but extra depth was required to get the background information ready. Every time I look for history of buildings in this area, I’m lead to even more websites referencing even more history. It could be a full time job!

Saturday morning I took the chance to do an extended exploration – one of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning with no commitments before 09:00am. I ended up discovering an “ancient” vineyard down below Ault Park that I had no idea existed. The history of the vineyard has led me down a rabbit hole of Cincinnati history. Often times I try not to rely on Google for discovering information about the history of the area I live in, preferring to discover (and sometimes make up my own versions) the history on my own. However if used appropriately the Internet can be a powerful tool in augmenting the exploration of the real world that we live in. More about the vineyard (Crusade Castle), Cincinnati wine, Columbia-Tusculum, St. Ursula Villa and RK LeBlond’s legacy, Alms and Eden Park after the pictures of the sunrise. The ride ended up being about 3 hours from start to finish, and it was one of the most fun rides I’ve been on in a long time.

The Sunrise

I started off the morning knowing that I was out of coffee. I left 10 minutes earlier than usual and swung by our local coffee roaster in Mt. Lookout Square, Lookout Joe‘s. I couldn’t believe it – they were closed! OK I can believe it, 6:15am is a bit early to be open on a Saturday Morning. I ended up swinging into the local UDF and was absolutely pleased to learn that they let me fill up my 26oz Nissan thermos for $.99! Thanks UDF! (UPDATE: as of the writing, on Monday, I learned that it is free refill day. $0 is even better than $.99, thanks UDF!) if you’re on the front page, please click continue to read more. I promise you won’t regret it. (more…)


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