Dec 26, 2006

Under the High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge, Toledo Ohio(Toledo, OH) I intended to drive to downtown Toledo today and take some pictures of the High Level Bridge, which connects East Toledo to the rest of the city by spanning the Maumee River.

The formal name of this span is the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge, but no one besides a few local engineers refers to the bridge by that name.

I was distracted, though, and decided to focus on the view from under the High Level Bridge, and develop a sort of a "bridge less traveled" post.

View of downtown Toledo, Ohio from under the High Level BridgeThere is a much different view of downtown from under the bridge than I was accustomed seeing. I was surprised by the amount of jetsam and flotsam along the shore, which contained a wide variety of natural and manmade debris.

I was also intrigued to find that there is an actual "shore" along the Maumee upstream. I knew, of course, that the dredging and artificial embankments must end somewhere, but had never actually stopped to think about where that point might be.

Illegal dumping under the High Level Bridge in Toledo, OhioThere are a number of places where scofflaws have decided to dump trash under and around the bridge. This particular pile looks like it was created by someone renovating a house.

The relative obscurity of the area under the bridge likely makes it an ideal dumping ground. There is little traffic around, save for that going over the bridge, which was built in 1931.

Despite the presence of trash, there is a great deal of natural beauty under and around the bridge. Just upstream are several stands of trees and marshlands, home to many birds and waterfowl.

A lone Canadian goose flew over my head toward the river, long wings gracefully flapping as it let out a solitary honk that echoed off the bridge moorings.

Numerous V-shaped groups of water birds headed for unknown parts as I wandered around under the bridge.

The area also appears to be a hangout for local teens, as the bridge is marked with a variety of gang graffiti.

Gangstas (or wannabes) from the South Side appear to be the most recent visitors. The area is littered with liquor bottles, burned logs, and other evidence that indicate the bridge offers teens an ideal party zone, away from prying eyes and irritated neighbors.

The cars passing overhead make a clickety-clack sound as they pass over the metal expansion joints in the 3,215-foot length of the bridge, and rainwater drips down every few yards on the heads of unwary passersby.

From Ottawa Street the High Level Bridge rises majestically above the Maumee River, and remains one of Toledo's most important visual landmarks. A jogger ran along the edge of the well-manicured Owens-Corning property, less than a hundred yards but seemingly worlds away from life under the High Level.

Under the bridge, though, there are different views to be seen, not all of which city leaders might want broadcasted. Still, this is a small slice of life in the middle of the Rust Belt, and I ambled through this blighted world on a cold December morning, finding myself alone along the riverbank.


microdot said...

The last time I was in Toledo, I had just finished John Sugden's Tecumseh biography. I found myself seeking out locations mentioned in the book. So much of the action took place on the Maumee River. I visited Fallen Timbers and Fort Meigs. I was also realized that the site of the Farmers Market, on Swan Creek is a very important location in this history. It was a huge Indian Village and for a while one of Tecumseh's headquarters. I love walking and if you have the time, that's the way to really get the true flavor a place.

Mark said...

Service groups could spend an entire day cleaning up under the High-Level Bridge alone. It looked exactly as you described it over 12 years ago when I happened to be walking there on the 4th of July.

LTLOP said...

Believe it or not Mike, the view from the center of the channel looking to the shore is actually quite nice. That stretch you are talking about, the hi-level to the train crossing by the Anderson's grain dock, has grown "wild". When I take the boat down the river that is always a nice quiet serene area and I think to myself that this is what the area looked like 100 yrs ago. Plus I think back to when my Dad would take me up and down the river I think back to the Gulf Oil refinery, the Coke works, Big and Little Lucas and some of the other industrial sites along the river. Some of the graffiti has been there since I was a kid.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Keeping an eye on Gangstas and Gangsta Wannabes is said (lip service) to be a high priority item.

You'd think that this area would be on somebody's patrol route and get checked when time permitted.

When time permitted. . .

(one of the recommendations being considered is eliminating up to 65 positions in the Police Department.)

It's spelled IRONY.