Southern Ohio – October 2020 – Views from Above

Todays Drone Tour starts out along the Ohio River at Portsmouth. The first view shows the flood wall covered in murals (later posting revisiting the murals).

The sun was just rising in the east, giving the U.S. Grant Bridge and the Ohio River some interesting lighting.

The Carl Perkins Bridge across the Ohio River, where the Scioto River enters.

The hills in Kentucky with the clouds reflected in the river.

Spartan Stadium was home to the NFL’s Portsmouth Spartans from 1928 until 1933, when the NFL had teams in relatively small cities. The Spartans moved to Detroit and live on to this day as the Detroit Lions.

An overview of the city of Portsmouth. The town has for decades lost population, dropping from a high of 43,000 in 1930 to the current population of 20,000.

The view east

Norfolk Southern Railroad has a large yard along the river in east Portsmouth.

Lake White State Park near Waverly.

The next stop was the city of Chillicothe. This view is of a large paper mill.

The same neighborhood has this large grain elevator. Unfortunately at this time the rain came and the drone became grounded.

Portsmouth, Ohio – October 2020 – Floodwall Murals

Portsmouth easily has one of the best collection of murals in the country. They have taken a massive, ugly concrete flood wall and created almost 1/2 mile of murals celebrating the towns history.

The drone view give an idea of how large they are – this is just a small portion.

The theme of the walls was 2000 years of history in 2000 feet of flood walls. They were created by a team lead by Robert Dafford, a famed mural painter.

Most sections of the wall are 40′ wide x 20′ high. Some, such as the view of Portsmouth in 1903, take up multiple sections.

Some aren’t even on the flood wall, including this mural on the side of the local Kroger Grocery store.

The floodwall not only runs along the river but in places goes inland. One of the inland sections celebrates sports, including the ‘Tour of the Scioto River Valley’, an annual bicycling event that goes the 100 miles from Columbus to Portsmouth, then back.

Another section of the inland wall includes a tribute to the local labor unions.

Another includes Portsmouth’s rich baseball history.

The original U.S Grant bridge is featured on this panel.

For a short time there was an amusement park located in Portsmouth, but it was badly damaged in the 1913 flood.

The shoe industry was one of the major employers in Portsmouth.

Streetcars provided transportation from the late 1800s until 1939.

Government Square was the center of the city in the early 1900s.

The murals are done with fantastic depth.

One of the original NFL teams, the Portsmouth Spartans.

Portsmouth has had a few devastating floods, including 1937.

Chillicothe Street has always been the main commercial street in town.

Industry in Portsmouth.

A close up of the detail of the right panel for industry.

A 3 panel education mural shows various periods.

Situated in southernmost Ohio, the railroads have always been an important part of Portsmouth’s industry.

The Portsmouth Motorcycle Club is the oldest in the world, having been founded in 1893. Obviously it had to be founded as a bicycle club first since the first motorcycle was not invented until 1898.

It was known as the Portsmouth Cycling Club from 1893 until 1913.

This western view would be the actual view if the flood wall was not in the way.

Much like the European settlers later, the Native Americans utilized trails that went through the area. One originated on Lake Erie near Sandusky and went south along the Scioto River to Portsmouth.

The original village was known as Alexandria, but was abandoned due to frequent flooding.

The first European settlers arrived in larger numbers in the early 1800s.

The completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal was a boom to the area.

Built in 1901 this rail station served both Norfolk and Western as well as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads. It was used until 1931 when an art deco station was completed.

A close up of the Chillicothe Street mural.

The Riverfront in 1903.

The Portsmouth Murals are one of the most impressive art installations in Ohio – well worth a trip.

Springfield, Ohio – October 2020 – Architecture at the End of the Road

In the 1800s Springfield was known as the City at the End of the Road, since the National Road ended there. Eventually it was extended and most people kept going, bypassing Springfield. Still it grew into a medium sized city with about 100,000 people in the area.

As with most Ohio cities of this size, the buildings tend to be older; built during Springfield’s heyday. This former church is now a community center.

This mural celebrates Springfield’s entertainment history. It covers the entire 6 floors of the back of the Regent Theater.

The side of the YMCA has another great mural.

The former city hall now houses the Clark County Heritage Center. Completed in 1890 the clock at the top must be adjusted manually during the spring and fall time changes.

Ironically despite the fact it was built to house the clock, it was 34 years before they had an actual working one – prior to the it just had a clock face painted on.

As usual I was on the lookout for ghost signs, this one on a building with a perfectly symmetrical, but sketchy looking, fire escape.

The Clark County Literacy Coalition is located in the former Warder Public Library building. It’s patron was from local industrialist Benjamin Warder in 1890. Warder made his money with the Champion farm machinery company, later becoming International Harvester.

The building is built of Ohio sandstone with Worcester brownstone trim, and a fantastic red slate roof.

The view across the street of St Raphael Church is framed by the main entrance’s archway.

Situated on a small hill, St Raphael is very prominent on the skyline of the city.

It is 156 steps to reach the top of the 184′ tower, but much easier to send the drone up for a closer view.

We leave Springfield with three great advertising signs – two old signs – one ghost signs, one in perfect condition, along with a great Big Boy!

Urbana, Ohio – October 2020 – Random Views of Champaign County and beyond

Todays road trip through the country takes us to the town of Urbana, county seat of Champaign County. Full disclosure – some of the photos are likely from border counties as I was on country roads without county line markers.

Each little town seemed to have a commercial block of 100 year old buildings, this one with a restored clock tower.

Talk about a barn find for the Ohio countryside – an old Mercedes with late 1980s license plates!

An abandoned school in a crossroads town.

This stylish little building was in the small town of Mechanicsburg.

Normally ‘Quilt Barns’ are much larger than this, but the contrast of the farm implements added to the look of this one.

Not too many farms date from 1814 in Ohio.

Eventually I reached the town of Urbana. As with most county seats it seemed to have the best collection of buildings in the area. Some nicely restored, some not so much, it was worth the stop.

The Hotel Sowles dates from around 1800, it is said to have hosted every Ohio governor from the beginning of the state until 1900. A community effort resulted in this great old building being restored.

This former bank in an Art Deco look is now a law office.

The Perpetual Federal Savings and Loan has been located in Urbana for 140 years. The building is generally designed in a Roman Corinthian style, but with classical touches. A true midwest building it is built out of Minnesota granite and Indiana limestone situated in a small Ohio town.

Personally I think the Yellow Mini sets it off nicely.

This classic Gulf Gas Station from the 1970s is still in use as an auto repair shop.

The local airport is home to a small museum where they are restoring a B-17.

This small theater started life in 1904, However in the 1930s it was destroyed in a fire, and was rebuilt in 1941 – hence the Art Deco look.

It is currently undergoing restoration.

Urbana has a number of great ghost signs.

This vacant, decaying building once housed a company that provided galvanized iron for railroad use.

Just across the street is the former train station, now a coffee shop. This station served the Pennsylvania Railroad for many decades.

Our time in Urbana is over, time to move on.

Columbus – September 2020 – Murals Part 2

The mural tour continues downtown and in Short North and beyond.

James ‘Buster’ Douglas was a heavyweight boxing champion from Columbus. A restaurant in an alley downtown has him taking down Mike Tyson!

Around the corner is a blues bar with a full back wall of murals.

Graffiti on the walls that seems to have itself been graffitied.

In the Short North area nearly every street corner along High Street has a mural or two.

Gentrified murals.

Sideway Mona Lisa in an alley.

The BLM movement has resulted in numerous additions to the collection, with relevant social commentary.

The artist Daniel Rona has many murals throughout the city feature characters with X’s for eyes.

How true – live every day like it is your last!

A retaining wall along Broadway showing the history of the Clintonville neighborhood.

This drive through carry out on Parsons Avenue had an eclectic collection of people, and the used car lot next door’s collection of cars.

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) has an entire alley of fantastic murals.

Next stop – the Milo Grogan neighborhood, and an artist group’s collection.

This food pantry had a nice mural, with the well placed left over paint bucket.

Our final mural is along a gym in Grandview Heights.

Columbus – September 2020 – Franklinton Murals

In the continuing effort to find subjects and maintain social distancing I have found that there are at least 600 murals scattered across Ohio. This posting will be the first in a series featuring some of these murals.

We start in the Franklinton neighborhood in Columbus. This neighborhood is home to a number of artist groups, but is going through a significant amount of gentrification, so they may be in danger of being priced out.

A few of the first group is in fact from a new residential building’s exterior walls.

Throughout the neighborhood is a mix of old and new, both celebrating the art.

Mt Vernon, Ohio – August 2020 – Random Views of Knox County

The tour of Central Ohio counties continues with Knox County, with more photography approaching abstract.

For a classic car find the ultimate is to find a ‘barn car’. Basically a car someone owned then stored it in a barn for 40 years forgetting about it. The result is an original condition ‘gem’.

Look closely you will see a 1960s Chevy tucked into the side barn.

The small town of Gambier is home to Kenyon College. This small college has produced a number of famous people including President Rutherford B Hayes, Paul Newman and others.

Most of the buildings have a strong Gothic and Romanesque look.

Nearby Mt Vernon has a couple of well restored train stations, including the one below that serves as a (currently closed) visitor center.

A great stone bridge with a ghost sign on an old building is just across the river from the visitor center.

Aerial Foundation Park is on the grounds of a former glass factory, with some remains of the buildings left behind as art.

A perfect red barn with the flags flying in the breeze.

Just across the county line into Delaware County is the small town of Kilbourne. While most of the town appears to be abandoned it is making a comeback as someone has purchased the block and is in the process of restoring. It appears it will take some time to finish.