Sunrise 46: Ault Park & East End (LeBlond’s Eastern Ave Factory, Lunken Terminal, Revolutionary War Cemetery)
Post-Industrial Rail Art
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.
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.
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.
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I started west on Eastern Ave at the base of Ault Park’s hill. At first I noticed there was no fog in the basin just below Heekin Overlook but as I started down Eastern I realized that there was a “fog wall” a couple hundred yards up the road. I took a picture of Bella Luna’s building against the foggy air.
I started back up the street toward Lunken Airfield. It was then that I noticed the old factory on the side of the road. I’ve seen this factory before but it has been probably a year since I last looked at it. Knowing what I do now thanks to this sunrise project, including the fact that LeBlond’s original factory (before the Norwood campus) was rumored to have been built on Eastern Ave in the late 1890s. Terry’s Turfclub is right across the street from the factory – now I regret forgetting to take a picture of Terry’s – and I always thought the building that looked abandoned had to be pretty old. From what I can tell, LeBlond moved from downtown out to Eastern Ave in the early 1890s. This lathes website has a pretty good summary of the expansion. It looks like my next task is to find the very first building in downtown if it still exists.
There is actually a clock up at the top of the tower, similar to the one found in the Rookwood Pavilion. It looks like it hasn’t been used in over half a century. Once again – I find the old clock towers fascinating to look at in an age when at any given time we have probably 5 ways to tell time within arm’s reach/
(From Sunrise 36: LeBlond’s logo on the giant smoke/shot stack):
As I continued past the old factory, I wondered if there was a vantage point from which I could get a better shot of the building. I found an old parking lot entrance to the right of the building and wandered down through the overgrown trees. There was a small opening that led down behind the buildings to the rail yard.
An old rail switch. This branch would have continued up next to the LeBlond buildings. It makes you wonder when they pulled the rails up? I’ve found many switches like this on the old rail lines. They give you a good idea of what used to be in the area before modern “renovations”. Apparently it just isn’t worth pulling up all the rail.
I started getting a bit anxious that someone (or something) would emerge from the fog at any moment, so I quickly grabbed my bike and headed back up to the road. I actually did end up hearing some human voices coming from inside the building. Two guys came out of the side building for a cigarette break and it was one of those situations where I boldly said “hey guys good morning!” just so they knew I was coming up behind them; I’m sure they’d rather not have a dude appear from the foggy trees unannounced just as much as me. Haha.
(update!) I was notified by a Cincinnati native that this is actually German (which makes sense). Here’s what echs has to say about it:
This is German. It reads “Deutsche evangel protest kirche,” which translates to “German Evangelical Protestant Church”. Interestingly, both Evangelical and Protestant mean essentially the same thing, but from two different cultures. Evangelical is the German word to denote non-catholic churches, and Protestant has the same meaning in England/US.
I think St. Peter’s in 1832 was the first German Evangelical Protestant Church in the area. 1845 to 1860 saw a huge German influx into Cincinnati, so by 1876 no doubt this church was built as the German population spread out from the city proper.
Further up the street is an old abandoned fuel station. Eastern Ave hasn’t been a heavy volume street for several decades, so this guy has probably been abandoned for awhile. Hell I live only two miles from here and this is my first time being on this part of Eastern.
The entrance to Lunken with the thick fog behind the bike. Note the deco tones.
Historical Plaque. Reads “The Gift to the City of Cincinnati September 5th 1928 by a native citizen: Edmund H. Lunken of two hundred and four acres of land for aviation purposes. The nucleus of this municipal airport.”
I leave Lunken to head up to my familiar sunrise bench. It is only about a half hour after sunrise at this point – but the sun is no where to be seen. The fog was thickest at this point it seemed. I decided not to stick around. I turned back towards the terminal and hopped on the newly completed Carrel -> Wilmer street trail. It is a small trail, maybe 1/3 of a mile at the longest, but it connects Lunken Airfield over to the trails down by the Ohio River. Eventually this will be a hub that you could also use to get up to the Little Miami Bike Trail head and travel up to Dayton (about 100 miles or so)
Traveling down the Carrel Wilmer trail, I come across a sign. I know for a fact that this sign was only put up in the past week because the last time I visited Lunken I actually had a conversation with a fellow cyclist who asked me if I knew “what those headstones were back there”. I didn’t know at the time but now, only a week later, it seems someone overheard us and put up this helpful sign.
Presbyterian Fulton Cemeteries – 1795. Reads: “Burial grounds of at least six Revolutionary War veterans and other Cincinnati pioneers including likely gravesite of Sgt William Brown, the first recipient of the Purple Heart, and of many residents of Fulton (the old East End) who made Cincinnati a steamboat building capital of America in the 19th century. Please respect these hallowed grounds and our ancestors buried here. The Fulton Pioneer Cemetery Committee.”. Fulton you say? Another name of a long-forgotten town that has been absorbed by Cincinnati Proper.
I found an old article talking about the Pioneer Cemetary (the one that I already know about – complete with a parking lot by Lunken Airfield). Check out the article here. The article mentions that you can only get to this Fulton Pioneer Cemetery by walking up a railroad track. Well that railroad track is now the Ohio River Trail. I imagine that this cemetery will be seeing more visitors now that it is accessible. Remember this reference to the railroad track, it will be important in a few minutes.
After leaving the cemetery, I stopped to check out the newly constructed Carrel Street Station monument. This old rail crane would have straddled the rail line that was pulled up to make room for the bike path. This beautiful old piece of river-side industry is now a permanent art installation.
Beyond the bike path on the way to the river there is a high school. This school is likely the reason there are several abandoned public school buildings in the area. It stands strangely on top of stilts, a good idea being less than 100 yards from the Ohio River.
You can’t tell but out there in the gray is a barge. It was moving ever so slowly up the Ohio River, blasting its fog horn several times per minute. I could hear the horn harmonically echo off the surrounding hills. I didn’t hear any return blasts so it is safe to assume the barge is alone on the river.
All in all a great morning. Not much of a sunrise, but the loop more than made up for it. In fact this might be my favorite loop so far. Doesn’t take too long and it touches on most of the major “attractions” in the area.