When I first embarked on this project, I knew that photos of this drawbridge across the Cuyahoga River at Lake Erie would be of substantial importance. But I was also aware of the fact that the east side of the river (where the action with the police took place) was now closed to the public due to a major redevelopment effort in that area of Cleveland known as "The Flats."
"The Flats" used to be an important entertainment district in Cleveland with bars and restaurants located all along Old River Road immediately south of the bridge.
On my first visit to the bridge, I went to the east bank of the river just to see how close I could get - not very, as it turned out! The entire area was enclosed in a chain link fence with "Warning - Construction Zone - Stay Out!" signs everywhere.
I did take several photographs from that side from various vantage points, but the most interesting photos of the bunch came when I crossed to the other side.
The other side of the river is home to The Ontario Stone Company, the "gravel and sand" yard where the proponents in this episode worked (despite the fact that there are some inconsistencies in the episode which places the stone company about a mile or so down the river - more on that later).
When I crossed the river I found myself at the entrance to The Ontario Stone Company, and despite several "No Trespassing" signs placed there by both Ontario and the railroad, I managed to elude detection and ended up on the tracks, walking closer and closer to the bridge (it was a slow Sunday morning!).
The only thing that stopped me from crossing the bridge to the other side (the location of the action) was the fact that the drawbridge control station (that small building you can see across the river on the DVD) was just to my right. I was concerned that one of the railroad's employees would soon come out and tell me to get off of their property.
As it turns out though, I did get some shots that approximate the opening scenes of the episode, with views of Cleveland Municipal Stadium on the DVD replaced by Cleveland Browns Stadium in my shots. Oh well, maybe next time I will venture all the way across the bridge and get shots of where the police action was.
Freighter at Allied Asphalt
The "gravel yard" that Tod refers to in the opening narrative is part of Allied Asphalt which is still in business today at the same location. It's interesting to note that this gravel yard is actually about a mile or so down the Cuyahoga River from the bridge mentioned in the title.
The piles of stone seen at "the bridge" are from The Ontario Stone Company which also has another location just across the street from Allied Asphalt. I don't know much about how asphalt is produced but I would guess that gravel is a main component and Ontario / Allied are business partners.
In the Route 66 episode a freighter can be seen docking next to Allied Asphalt (I would guess to deliver gravel?). As I was taking my photographs a freighter had just navigated down the Cuyahoga from Lake Erie and docked at exactly the same spot. The river at that point is very winding (in fact, Cuyahoga is an Indian word for "crooked") and watching those freighters navigate its waters is a fascinating, if very slow, pastime.
I watched for nearly a half-hour as tug boats pulled the freighter from one side of the river - where it had gotten stuck turning a very sharp bend - to the other - where it needed to dock. My photo is taken from a view opposite the screen shot because I did not have access to the actual locations of the filming - it's private property with locked gates and barbed-wire fences after all.
The conveyor belt and machinery in the current photo appear to be of much newer vintage than those in the episode. And even though I took my photo from a different vantage point I can assure you that this is where the original conveyor belt stood - I've watched that scene very carefully over and over again.
Notice Cleveland's Terminal Tower in the background. It plays a prominent part in another episode of Route 66 (I can't recall the title but one of its stars is Ed Asner).
I should also note that this was an extremely busy weekend in Cleveland. It was Labor Day 2008 and there were events going on all around at the time. The Cleveland Air Show was in full force with military jets flying in formation all around me. The Cleveland Indians were playing at Progressive Field (they lost 6-4 to Seattle) and "A Taste of Cleveland" was going on in the Flats.
And just the day before, Bill and Hillary Clinton - along with Barack Obama and a host of other notable Democrats - were in town to attend a memorial service for U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones who died at the age of 58 on 20 August.
St Tikhon Ave.
Not much to say here. Just a shot of St. Theodosius Cathedral (St. August Church in the episode) from St. Tikhon Avenue.
Progress continues in Cleveland
That dark building with a picket fence and the eight windows in the DVD screen shot above is the rooming house (?) where most of the indoor action from "Incident On A Bridge" took place. As you can see from the current photograph, the house, and in fact that entire section of St. Tikhon Ave. leading into the valley, is long gone. Interstate-490 is now located down the hill just beyond those trees.
Look closely at the original photograph. You can see the same stone wall that still surrounds St. Theodosius Cathedral today. I think it's remarkable how much that wall has remained unchanged over the years. In the city where I live, a wall like that would have been torn down years ago and replaced with pre-fab bricks from Home Depot.
Shops On Starkweather
St. Thedosius is actually located on Starkweather Avenue in Cleveland and St. Tikhon Avenue runs down the side. At one point in the episode Buz turns off Starkweather onto St. Tikhon and a few storefront shops can be seen in the background.
The shops - Kormos Hardware, Valley View Delicatessen and Eagle Grocery, are gone now but I wonder when they were demolished? As you can see from the current photo there is new construction being done on the site but did those buildings seen in the show just come down? Or was there something else standing there in the interim?
Center St. Bridge
In the final climactic scene, the police are chasing Nehemiah Persoff and spot him running along the Cuyahoga River behind the buildings on Merwin Ave.
There are all kinds of unique bridges up and down the Cuyahoga and this one is no exception. The bridge swivels on a pivot (see current photo) rather than operating as more conventional drawbridge. At the time I was there, a tugboat came through and the bridge swiveled out of its way. I will try to put up an animation of the series of photos I took.
Behind Merwin Ave. Buildings
This shot is taken from the Center Street bridge and it appears that the building in the original photo has been demolished - but the dock is still there.
I am not a professional photographer by any means and that's a fact evident when viewing most any of the photographs that I have taken. But every once in a while I get a shot that amazes even me. This photograph of Merwin Ave. is one of those shots.
It was taken on a beautiful Sunday morning under what appears to be just the right lighting conditions - i.e. the position of the sun.
I can't explain the complete absence of cars, trucks or any other kind of vehicle - moving or parked. The fact is that I took at least a half dozen other shots and no vehicles appeared in any of them either. The roads around there are all open (my car was parked just to the right) and the buildings to the left are a part of a grain processing plant that was actually in operation at the time - and there were plenty of cars in parking lots just behind me. But it did feel quite eerie just the same.
Those blue objects in the road are industrial trash bins. I have no idea how or why they ended up there.
You will notice that I did not crop my photos to fit the new high-definition computer monitor screens. Those of you with such technology will just have to suffer with seeing the whole picture.
A few more photos from "Incident On A Bridge" can be found here...