As the sun rose on a recent Saturday morning we found ourselves drawn to the Cuyahoga River to see how the approach of warmer temperatures was quickening the pulse of Cleveland's waterfront. We weren't disappointed.
Our first stop was the George V Voinovich Innerbelt Bridge, a little quieter than usual as the inbound portion of the bridge was closed for construction. The mix of cranes, bridge structure, and piles of nearby stone was a wonder of industrial shape and form. As we traveled upriver a short way, a fleet of Cleveland Youth Rowing Association rowing shells glided by under the watchful gaze of their coach.
Meanwhile, where the mouth of the Cuyahoga River meets Lake Erie, American Steamship Company's Sam Laud, a 635" long, 68' wide behemoth, was beginning its 3 hour trek up the river with a load of iron ore pellets bound for ArcelorMittal Steel. Several Western Reserve Rowing Association learn-to-row crews were treated to their first "up close and personal" experience with a Great Lakes freighter. The waterline interaction can be daunting - and inspiring, but we're pretty sure these first-time rowers later shared their unique experience with friends and family. And yes, when viewed from 12" above the water, a freighter becomes part of Cleveland's skyline.
As the Sam Laud threaded its way past the Center St. Bridge and glided by the Cleveland Rowing Foundation and Cleveland Metroparks Merwin's Wharf docks, captains were being trained to pilot the ElCee2 water taxi (service kicks off May 26) while Cleveland Dragonboat Association volunteers prepared their boats for the upcoming season. Two riders rolled over from Crooked River Skatepark to get a closer view of the passing freighter - one rider wore a tee appropriately emblazoned with "Clevo Style".
We shadowed the Sam Laud as it sailed through Scranton Flats while a father and son enjoyed the view from two wheels. They were close to the mid-point of their 11 mile ride up the Ohio & Erie Canalway (starting at the Rockside Rd. Station in Independence) to their destination, Merwin's Wharf. We finished off the morning by tracking the Sam Laud as it navigated its way past the Innerbelt Bridge on the final stretch to ArcelorMittal.
The unique mix of industry and urban recreation on the Cuyahoga River provides fertile ground for enjoying Cleveland's theater of the waterfront!
Here's a quick vid of some of the morning sights.