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

Sunrise 67: Ault Park (Beechmont Dragway?)

This morning’s sunrise was almost identical to yesterday’s sunrise. There was a low atmospheric layer of foggy stratus haze that obscured most of the light. For the few minutes before sunrise you could see these bursting rays of light arcing up through the upper atmosphere, but they disappeared before I could get a decent picture of them. The sky was blue up above me and the moon clearly visible.

This week’s weather is calling for mostly hot and humid days with scattered thunder storms. I’ve been really interested lately in watching how the morning sunrise weather changes with the air pressure. Early last week the mornings were gray with fog sitting down in the lower valley basin. As the thunder storms built up in the tri-state, and finally broke with intense action, the fog disappeared (or, probably more accurately, moved higher into the atmosphere). As a side effect, the day following the major storms was perfectly clear with no clouds in the sky. The next day had slight whisps of clouds, and the following day had a beautifully mixed set of 40% cloud cover with all kinds of formations. It was on that day that I got some of the best sunrise pictures of the month.

The point of all of this is the following. Yesterday and today were gray and boring. But today it looks like we’re in line for some heavy thunderstorms that may stick around for a few days. I can’t wait for the first sunrise after the heavy summer storms. The post-storm sunrises never disappoint and are always unique and colorful. You can’t have the best ones without first having a streak of boring ones 🙂

Down below to the left we see Armleder Park (For some great pictures of the park, check out last Friday’s post). To the right we see Lunken Airfield (pictures from last week). See that patch of forest in the middle? That’s where the 4-lane Beechmont Avenue runs out to Mt. Washington and Anderson. The gate that I highlighted yesterday, located on the back side of Lunken Airport’s 5-mile bike trail, will open up to a connector trail that will go under Beechmont Avenue and over to Armleder Park. This will give cyclists, runners, roller bladers, and dog walkers access Armleder Park from Lunken Airfield.

This is a picture of the gate that I took yesterday. You can see on the left side, beyond the gate, there are markers that show that the construction crew is working diligently on the path. Due to all the flooding that occurred during the spring, I’m wondering if they’ll have a hard time meeting their Fall 2011 deadline.

So the interesting thing about this new trail is that they are building it on top of an existing lane. There used to be a small gravel access road that ran along the levee. I always wondered what the heck that road used to be. It was, at one time, important enough to be paved and have a gate protecting access to it. The gate is old and almost overrun with vegetation now. I had a few theories:

  1. An ancient bike path that simply ran out of funding.
  2. Satelite images show that it connects, somehow, to Beechmont Ave. Perhaps an old Lunken Airfield trail?
  3. An access road for something off in the woods?
  4. Part of the old Little Miami River gate system? There are strange wooden and metal structures hidden in the woods off of the levee that look like they were once used for loading ship or something. Jury is still out on what they actually are, but I’ve been told they had to do with the old lock system that controlled the river before they re-routed it out of Lunken Airfield’s Campus.

Well, that’s about it as far as my ill-informed theories go. Check out the Google Map and see for yourself. The “new trail” is the blue line and you can see how it continues over into the forest on the other side of Beechmont Ave.

Yesterday I was poking around the Cincinnati subreddit and got into a discussion about this Armleder / Lunken Connector. I asked if anyone knew what used to be back along this trail. I honestly didn’t expect to find anything out, but the user jOhn33y informed me that there used to be an old drag strip back in the forest that operated from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s before being shut down due to noise ordinance violations. Interestingly enough, one YouTube commenter says that as a boy he remembers asking his mom why they shut down the race track, and she replied “the rich people on the hill didn’t like the noise so they shut it down”. Also reminds me of the stories I hear about the old Grandin Ave Viaduct over Delta Ave, but that’s a story for another day.

Map Image and Beechmont Dragway Logo are from Queen City Motorsports Historical Page

Now that I look at the satellite map, it makes perfect sense. The actual drag strip was on the other side of Beechmont Ave so I can’t say for sure whether this trail was simply alternate access to the strip, part of the racing strip in general, or something else entirely. Either way this opens up a new piece of Eastern Cincinnati history that I was completely unaware of. Once these storms die down I plan on exploring the old Drag Strip to see what still remains. There is some footage on YouTube of someone else’s exploration, as well as an old silent film (with audio commentary removed due to copyright violations… grrr). Here’s some awesome old footage of the 1960s drag strip:

Sometime after these thunder storms die down I’ll go exploring back there to see what still remains of the old drag strip. There’s some footage on YouTube but there looks to be much more to the site than just the small area where the video is taken. The original source for all of this information is from this Queen City Motorsports page.

The overlook @ Ault Park.

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9 responses

  1. Pingback: Sunrise 102: Ault Park (Ash Trees, Beechmont Dragstrip, Project Autumn Tree) « Ault Park Sunrise

  2. Pingback: Sunrise 157: Alms Park (Misty Hills, Tall Oaks, Spring Blooms) « Ault Park Sunrise

  3. Dave

    Very interesting- I did not know about the drag strip until I found your site today. I knew that the (very) old, pre-levee alignment of Beechmont was down there, but didn’t know anything else.

    If you haven’t already, check out the imagery from historicaerials.com. Very cool!

    http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=5&lon=-84.40698365201162&lat=39.114964172381015&year=1968

    April 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    • Thanks Dave! I meant to check it out this winter before the forest came back to life but alas, I didn’t make it. Maybe I’ll go exploring again and see what I can dig up with the recent connector from Armleder to Lunken airfield just north of the strip.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

  4. C Roberts

    When I was a teenager in the late ’70’s we used take our .22s and shoot down there at what now the park by the Duck Creek. My dad had told me the story of the drag strip and how the home owners in Watch Hill had it shut down due the noise, as mentioned above. We found the remnants of the bleacher and the surface of track.

    Today my kids and I rode the unopened section of the bike trail and it was fun to see this area being opened up to the public. We had so much fun down there as teenagers and it’s great that we are finally learning to appreciate the beauty of the Little Miami River valley, My friends and I were about 30 years ahead of the curve!!

    May 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    • Thanks C Roberts. We also explored down there yesterday, in fact, and I was looking all around for signs of the old drag strip. You’re right that it’s pretty great that we’re able to check the area out now as it is part of the unopened trail connector between Lunken and Armleder park. The trail is nice and we’re lucky to have it!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      • C Roberts

        Blaine

        I believe the drag strip bleachers were a little farther up toward old Wooster Pike. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them so they may no longer be there. When the ground drys up I’ll be taking my mountain bike up that way off the trail and see what i can find. Please put me on your update list as you share my passion for the Little Miami Valley.

        CJR

        May 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    • Good luck on your quest!

      If you’d like to know about updates, try subscribing at the bottom of the page. There’s a “sign me up” button down there somewhere and you should get emails when I post new things. Thanks!

      May 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

  5. S Fisher

    I have found bleacher, restroom and a post that might have been part of the timing equipment.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm

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