Driving Along Ohio's Erie Coast
Jump ahead to East Ashtabula
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Leaving Cleveland, I followed Ohio Route 2 eastbound, which stays near, but not directly on, the Lake Erie coastline, as it heads towards Pennsylvania and New York. The route eventually goes from freeway to 2-lane road, but I didn't find any reasons to stop along the way. So, when I reached the nice little town of Geneva (OH-2 runs through downtown), I turned north, onto OH-534, then 531, to reach Geneva-On-The-Lake.
Geneva-On-The-Lake is a nice little resort town, that looks like a great place to spend a quintessential summer vacation. Rental properties fill the gap between the main road and the water.
If you were staying here, you could easily walk into "town" (the main drag on 531, just a few blocks long), and find places to eat and play -- or retreat to the water, which is just a 2-minute walk away.
Many of Geneva-On-The-Lake's businesses were just opening for the day when I visited, and I needed to make progress towards a much bigger tourist town, Niagara Falls, so I moved on to...
Look at a map, and you'll discover that East Ashtabula is actually due north, not east, of its parent city, Ashtabula. Keep following 531 along the coast, and you'll run right into the business district, on Bridge Street. And there are plenty of reasons to stop here for a while, with storefronts that are still in business, selling crafts or pouring cups of coffee.
It's the kind of downtown that still has ancient-looking flashing lights, hanging by a thread over the busiest intersections. Yes, there are a few real traffic lights, too.
Bridge Street gets its name from the drawbridge at the end of the business district. It spans, you guessed it, the Ashtabula River. It's a busy little port...
... with an even more impressive crossing, just downstream from the drawbridge. The Ashtabula Arch isn't for cars, I'm fairly certain it's for moving coal over the water to the rail yard.
If you're lucky, you'll get to see the drawbridge open and close. If you're unlucky, you'll get stuck in the traffic backup it causes.
For a better view of East Ashtabula's riverfront, take a side road north from downtown, find Walnut Street, and drive to the end. There's a nice little park here, that overlooks the drawbridge and the arch.
Lingering at this viewpoint for a moment gave me the chance to avoid the traffic backup from the drawbridge. It was almost clear when I made it back down to the main road.
There's also a small piece of one of the huge "Hulett" machines on display at the park. Ashtabula used to have eight of these massive contraptions, which unloaded coal from freight ships on the lake. The 9-story-tall Hulett machines could dig 17 tons of ore in 50 seconds. This piece is just the operator station, bucket, and a section of the arm of one of the old machines. The rest were scrapped in the early 1980's, when ships began using self-unloaders.
If the Commies had ever pushed the button and started World War III, peaceful little Ashtabula would likely have been one of the first towns turned into a wasteland. It's because Ashtabula had a Uranium extrusion plant -- making it, most likely, a primary target for Soviet nukes. The town also has a factory that manufactured brakes for the Space Shuttle.
|Northeast Ohio: OH-2, 534, 531|
Leaving East Ashtabula, I decided to speed up my drive, so I took Ohio 11 down to I-90, then headed east on the Interstate, almost all the way through the northern stub of Pennsylvania.
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