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

Posts tagged “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)

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 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 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.


Sunrise 58: Ault Park (Fireworks, Baby Tracks, Sonada Cigars)

My favorite fireworks picture. Turned out nicely.
Gold Fuzzy and Green

Morning Sunrise (widescreen)

This morning’s sunrise was a beautiful hazy one that had a long delay. I believe that I’ve made the mental connection between humidity (manifested as haze) and length of sunrise. The less humidity, the quicker the orange/yellow bright light comes on. On days like today we didn’t get a yellow color until the sun was high into the air, about an hour after sunrise. With the right cloud conditions these late sunrises can make the best picture opportunities! Today was a bit too hazy, the yellow/orange never quite coming into play until the sun was past prime color. I’ve got about 15 or so fireworks pictures at the end of this post. Feel free to skip on through if you want to check them out. About 35 pictures in total today!

The Overlook. A bit of trash that was left over from last night’s festivities. Fast Food containers, old sparklers, wrappers, and even a sealed feminine product. I imagine that was more of a prank than necessity…

A brochure, left behind. There was trash littered all around the trash bins because the raccoons got in and rummaged around. The park crew was busy picking up the debris. I helped out a bit and cleaned up around the overlook.

Plane coming in! The familiar cargo-type plane that I see almost every morning

Sparklers and booty. I scored a new lighter! There was also, interestingly enough, a sunrise metal hunter. He had his scanner out and headphones on, looking for dropped change and who knows what else.

The orange sun starting to come up.

We can see the fog down in the valley. Thick chunky fog.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Lots of pictures on fireworks down below. —> (more…)


Sunrise 38: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Fog, Cumulus, Columbia-Tusculum, and a Clear Sunrise)

Behind Lunken Airfield after sunrise

This morning was downright beautiful. I woke up to a respectable fog in the area, something that always makes me excited for the morning ride. As I rode up to the park, I noticed that the air got more clear the further I went. This is an interesting trend I’ve picked up on – Mt. Lookout seems to get more fog than the peak of the overlook. Whether this is due to elevation (200ft difference), temperature, or wind I’m not sure.

Approaching the park

As I approached the park, the sky started to turn a familiar shade of orange. The sunset last night was marked with clear skies so I was hopeful that this morning’s sunrise would be the same. I wasn’t disappointed.

Foggy Dawn

Down in the Little Miami River valley the familiar thick fog was present. But there was an interesting difference this morning over the previous mornings. While the Eastern sky (towards the sunrise) was clear, and the fog was present throughout the entire valley, there was actually a thick low-lying cloud bank to the west. This caused a kind of dark floor to the sky over the lunken to the west.

The moon, out again and high in the air.

The pink cumulus over Lunken Airfield

The cloud bank provided this nice contrast against the upper cumulus clouds. They glowed a light pink at the opposite end of the arena from the sunrise. They also quickly disappeared as the moving cloud bank swept underneath them.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue reading! –> (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)

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)

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…)