Getting 2017 Off to a Good Start

Call me in the morning if it looks good,” was the last thing my brother Robert said to me as he departed my house on New Year’s Eve. We had been up to the nursing home to visit our mother and he was optimistic about the weather forecast for New Year’s Day.

He had a right to be; the weather gurus were calling for partly to mostly sunny and highs in the mid to upper 30s.

I knew it would be a good day because as Sunday mass progressed the sun shining through the stain glass windows gave more than the usual heavenly glow. There was something special in the air today. Maybe it was just the optimism that a new year brings.

I was on the phone to the bro’ as soon as I got home from church and we were headed toward downtown Cleveland a few minutes later.

I wanted to check out a new photo vantage point at the east side of CP Drawbridge, the NS lift bridge over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

A new parking lot abuts the tracks and the lighting this morning was perfect. As we pulled into the lot, we heard on the scanner, “34N Clear, Drawbridge.” Our first train of 2017 was already upon us.

We shot and got back into the Jeep; it was still a bit chilly this morning. But looking around we noticed that the lot we were in at times could be off limits to railfans unless you wanted to pay a parking fee.

On this Sunday morning there were no bars or restaurants open in the Flats so we had the lot to ourselves.

As the morning progressed we did have a few other cars park in the lot. They looked like workers arriving early to help clean up from the previous night’s revelries.

After 34N passed, 35N, its counterpart, was next about five minutes later.

Following it were two more westbounds, one being an oil train. Our vantage point, between the drawbridge and the RTA Waterfront Line overpass of the Chicago Line, meant that between trains we could watch and photograph RTA cars on the Waterfront Line. We narrowly missed an over/under with oil train 67W.

Traffic was steady for the morning as NS was business as usual. All the normal morning trains were running.

By noon, we were in need of some food. Everything here was closed, so we headed for the near West Side. A Subway on Detroit Road not too far from Battery Park was our choice of eateries.

It didn’t have any seating inside the sandwich shop, so we headed to Battery Park to park and eat lunch.

After lunch and two trains, one each way, we went to explore the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River.

We parked at the Aquarium in the Powerhouse and walked along the docks where the Nautica Queen was docked. From here, you can get some nice across-the-river views of the Waterfront Line, using the newly renovated warehouse buildings as backgrounds.

The old warehouses are now apartments. They start at $1,050 a month. Yikes!

We strolled north along the river to the docks next to Shooters. From here you can get some nice views of the NS lift bridge at CP Drawbridge.

I would later find out that Shooters is usually open on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. So on a normal day these views may not be possible or only available to restaurant patrons. I’m not sure, but for today, we were the only humans enjoying the views. Some Lake Erie gulls and some Canada geese were also taking in the view.

Traffic on NS had slowed a bit, but we were able to capture 24M on film as it made its way across the bridge. We moved on, not wanting to overstay our welcome.

Our next stop was at the Superior Viaduct. This is a remnant of the stone arch bridge that once crossed the Cuyahoga.

We were hoping for an across-the-river view of the Waterfront Line. Parking on the viaduct is perpendicular to the roadway and the roadway is narrow.

I parked next to a full size pick-up truck, only to find that seeing around it trying to back out was next to impossible. Fortunately, the owner showed up and drove off while I sat there trying to back out.

The viaduct has trolley tracks imbedded in the stone pavement, the only thing we found of interest up there. The view across the river is blocked by the roof of an open air pavilion called, “Jacob’s Pavilion.”

From here we were off to an area known as Settler’s Landing. This is where Moses Cleaveland supposedly landed and began the settlement that became Cleveland. Near the log cabin that marks the spot, you can shoot RTA cars on the Waterfront Line across a bend in the river.

The light was nice here, but the local lake gull population was causing problems. They were flying around trying to get some popcorn from a lady who was throwing it to them.

One bird almost flew in the way of one of my photos. I’ll find out when I get it back if it is in or out of the photo.

From here we moved closer to the Waterfront Line tracks in the grassy area between the tracks and the river at the Settler’s Landing station; no one was feeding the birds there, at least when we first arrived.

We shot several RTA cars here. They were running about every 15 minutes. When the southbound car would go past, the northbound none would be coming very soon.

Then you had a short break before the cycle repeated itself.

When we tired of this area, we were again off to Battery Park for the remainder of the day.

NS ran two eastbounds and one westbound before we left. The sun disappears behind a new condo building at about 4:30 p.m. in January.

The condos here start at $345,280 and there is a monthly grounds maintenance fee added on.

Wow! I’m glad I live in Parma Heights.

I exposed 30 frames this day, which is not a bad way to kick off 2017. Let’s hope there’s plenty more where this came from.

Article by Marty Surdyk

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