(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.
There 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.
There 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.