Friday, August 8, 2014

The Bridges of Ashtabula County ...

No, not Madison County, and I doubt Clint Eastwood has ever been here in Ashtabula Ohio, but it IS well known for it's covered bridges, as well as being the third most notorious saloon-bordello town in the world, rivaling the Barbary Coast of San Francisco.  Located on the shore of Lake Erie, it had direct access to the shipping corridors and ports of the world, and you know how those sailors of old were!!

This is the view as you walk towards the Elks patio.  We decided to stay one more day here in Ashtabula while Barbara works on some internet problems.
The weather is cooperating gloriously ... it's been sunny and in the high 70's.  
Looking for an Ohio geocache for one more notch in my belt, we went to the museum at Point Park, overlooking the Ashtabula River.  This was a major port for shipping coal around the world.  Trains brought it in on the far side of the river, this huge conveyor transferred it to THIS side of the river, where it was loaded on ships ... and still is to this day!
A couple blocks to the right is the vehicle bridge that crosses the river.  It was raised and lowered three times in about 30 minutes.  This is also Bridge Street, aptly named, the infamous part of town!
Not so notorious now, there's an ice cream shop, a choclatier, a coffee shop ... small businesses trying to stay afloat.  The buildings are covered in gingerbread with those beautiful tin ceilings inside.  Most of the original doors and hardware are still intact ... a great place to walk and admire old world craftsmanship!
Barbara and Tom directed me to this corner in Geneva (a few miles south) where there used to be a cache.  Watch out for traffic here ... the "Walk" sign doesn't give you enough time to even get halfway across before it says STOP again!!  
No worries, around the corner on Liberty Street is the Liberty Street bridge where a cache was found.  You see Ashtabula County is known for the longest and shortest covered bridge.  This was a culvert in a small ditch that needed to be replaced.  They got this great idea, let the school kids design, engineer and create the 18' span, then place it here, along with a guard house to collect tolls.  Really, it's just a replica guard house ... they don't charge to cross the creek!!
While the Westerfields went to the Verizon store in the morning, I checked out the longest covered bridge.  This Smolen-Gulf bridge is relatively new, having been built by the County.  
Down a long narrow dirt road, I found a "real" covered bridge.  This one built by the Olins, who lived just across the way on the right.  They even made their old house into a Covered Bridge Museum, but I didn't have time to check it out.  In the old days, whoever built the bridge, charged for crossing by the number of cows, chickens or horses you were taking with you.  
It was a beauty to be sure, now held up by concrete pillars in the water.  
While out geocaching, we tried to navigate on Barbara's new (free) toy from Verizon, but it appeared the processor just wasn't fast enough to keep up with my Jeep and the County Bridge Map needs definite overhaul.  After making a few wrong turns, we finally found a couple more bridges.  This one is also held up by concrete pillars, since cars weigh a little more than horse and buggies.  The saggy windows reveal it's real age, but don't ask me what that is.  The writing on the map is so small none of us could read it!!
This bridge does have a weight limit, so about 20 feet away is a modern day bridge for truck traffic.  These bridges are all in use ... they're not just to look at, so listen for cars coming when you're standing in the middle of the road taking pictures!!
This one was the best of those we saw.  It's a REAL covered bridge with no concrete pillars.  Another car stopped at the same time, and they complained about the tree and bushes being in the way ... and about the signs on the bridge, but we thought it was beautiful!!
Just look at that laminated beam on either side!!  
The waters were barely moving, making for great reflection images, except I couldn't get close enough to the water.  I could sit here for hours and watch the cars go by ... 
But we had to get on to the next bridge.  This is the first piece of big equipment I've seen out here.  Smolens of the longest bridge fame??  This is their farm ... a beautiful immaculately groomed one at that.  They're harvesting what looked like wheat or barley.  
A couple hundred yards away was the last bridge of the day.  This one has a little perspective problem that makes it look crooked, but in reality we don't think it wasn't falling over.  The creek it crosses is just a small one.
Unlike California where you don't see much in the way of flowers, this country is covered with them. These were behind the guard rail from the bridge, but they line the roads everywhere.  Not wanting to pick up any critters, we left them alone ... but they would look nice in a vase on my table!!
Today we head for Buffalo New York and hopefully a full hookup.  We're both short and long on water (if you know what I mean) and I had to buy some clothes, since all mine are dirty!!  We'll be there a couple of days, so we should be able to catch up!!

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