Friday, October 31, 2008

The Geology of Cleveland

The earth underneath the Cleveland metropolitan area isn’t something that people think about very often, if at all. Of course, if you live in one of the areas surrounding the city that has been hit with mild tremors over the last few years, maybe it has crossed your mind once or twice.

I’ve always been interested in geology. Not seriously, though.  As a kid I liked to pick up all kinds of rocks, much to my mother’s dismay. When I was in my first few years at grade school in Brooklyn, Ohio, we lived right across from the steep cliffs of Big Creek. In fact, we used to play in the creek all the time and picked up quite a few small fossils in the shale there. Unfortunately for us,  in 1964 when the State of Ohio decided that they were going to put I-71 right through our living room, our family had to quickly relocate. But it seems that our misfortune meant a boon for paleontologists, who also found lots of fossils in the area as the area was reconstructed for the freeway. From I-71 near Ridge Road, one can still see the remainder of the street, and the shale filled cliff of the area where Big Creek travels.

When the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently did an article about paleontologists hunting for fossils again in the Cleveland area by Big Creek, it made me want to “dig” a little more into the overall geology of the area.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History has a very comprehensive summary of what lies underneath the Cleveland area. An excerpt:

The major event shaping the modern local drainage systems began when ice melted northward from the Akron region, leaving a boundary ridge of drift called the Wabash End Moraine ca. 16,000 years ago, which stood for 10,000 years as a drainage divide between the southward-flowing upper Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. An ancient Lake Cuyahoga was ponded between the Wabash Moraine and retreating Hiram-age ice. During a subsequent readvance of the Hiram ice ca. 14,800 years ago, the Defiance Moraine was deposited just north of Peninsula. When this ice began retreating ca. 14,300 years ago, short-lived Lake Independence was formed. The major fill of the Cuyahoga Valley between Cleveland and Akron consists of deposits from these two lakes. Even after the northward retreat of the ice, minor climatic fluctuations resulted in changing water levels of the Great Lakes, resulting alternately in erosion or deposition in the river valleys.

From ca. 14,000-12,500 years ago, the Lake Erie basin was occupied by a gradually falling series of large lakes, all higher than modern Lake Erie. Erosion and deposition along their southern shores formed wave-cut terraces and beach ridges which generally parallel the modern lakeshore. Lakes Maumee I-III (14,500-14,100 years ago), were from 780' to 764' above sea level; Lakes Whittlesey I and II (ca. 13,800), between 740' and 730' above sea level; Lakes Arkona I-III (13,600-13,300 years ago), 711' to 690' above sea level; and Lakes Warren I-III (13,000-12,900 years ago), 686' to 670' above sea level. Between 12,900-12,600 years ago, the opening of the Niagara Falls outlet resulted in a rapidly lowering series of lakes (Wayne, Grasmere, and Lundy). By 12,200 years ago, the inflow of water from the upper Great Lakes had been diverted northeast, and the level of early Lake Erie fell 40 meters below its modern level of 571' above sea level. There was a slow rise to 565' between ca. 4,500-2,500 B.C., when erosion to the lowered lake levels downcut the old southern divide, enabling the upper Cuyahoga to join the flow northward into Lake Erie, the last major geological event to affect this area. Beyond shaping the topography, these geological events were responsible for the materials of economic significance to Cleveland's future development.

(The entire article is quite lengthy and detailed; it can be found here if you wish to read it in its entirety.)

The video below from the Cleveland Plain Dealer speaks to how the geology of the area has made it ideal for the formation of fossils. The article that accompanied the video, which speaks a bit of the geology in the area is also interesting; it can be found here.

Some other web sites that my be of interest:

The Natural History Museum Cleveland Geological Society

Friends of Big Creek

The Ohio Geological Survey GeoFacts

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey

Ohio Seismic Network

Plain Dealer Video Hunt for Cleveland Area Fossils

Fossil hunt

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleveland’s Favorite “Haunts”

Franklin Castle
With Halloween coming up, it makes me think of all the places in Cleveland that are reported to be haunted.

I’ve already written here before about what is probably Cleveland’s most famous haunted house, Franklin Castle, located on Franklin Boulevard at the intersection of West 44th Street. The Gothic-style house was built in 1865 for grocer and banking executive, Hannes Tiedemann and his wife Luise.

But, there are plenty of other places in Cleveland where “ghosts” supposedly reside, such as the Steamship William G. Mather, the USS COD, Grays Armory, Playhouse Square, Whiskey Island, Cleveland Police Museum, Lakeview Cemetery, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The Mather
Lakeview Cemetery seems like an obvious place for haunting, since it is, after all, a cemetery. At Grays Armory, there are reports of hearing footsteps when no one else was present, and seeing Civil War era apparitions. Franklin Castle has a history of mysterious deaths, reported murders, and strange noises and happenings. On Whiskey Island, there are reports of some ghosts at the Sunset Grille.

For me, since I live in a 1950’s home outside of Cleveland (in Lake County) where we’ve had quite a few unexplained happenings over the years (some rather scary to say the least), I have no desire to walk into any other haunted places. I may write out the story of my own home on one of my other blogs one of these days, but sometimes it rattles me just thinking about it. Thankfully, our house has been quiet and apparition free for several years…and I want to keep it that way!

If you are interested in seeing some of these places and hearing the full story behind the hauntings, a company called Haunted Cleveland provides tours, some private, for some of these locations.

Here’s a link to a short video from WKYC Channel 3 about “Haunted Cleveland”:
Haunted Cleveland

Whiskey Island Clip & Haunted Cleveland (Link), also from WKYC:
Whiskey Island Hauntings

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Cleveland Browns

Cleveland’s NFL football team, The Cleveland Browns , incites all kinds of passion in people, some of it the good kind, some of it bad. Long time Clevelanders have a love-hate relationship with the team. It comes from many years of having fans’ hopes raised when teams reached the playoffs, only to have fans’ hopes dashed when the team just can’t quite reach the top rung. Of course, just this past Monday (October 13), the team temporarily redeemed itself with a 35-14 crushing of Superbowl champions New York Giants, handing them their first loss of the season.

The team and fans have garnered some interesting nicknames over the years. For example, they called the 1980 team the “Kardiac Kids” because of many heart-stopping games that were won or lost in the last few minutes or seconds of the game. The area near the goal line near the bleacher section is now called the “Dawg Pound” because of the dog costumes and dog paraphernalia the fans bring to the game. The moniker was reportedly first conceived by Hanford Dixon (cornerback) who initially gave his defensive teammates the name "Dawgs" to inspire them before the 1985 season. The defense would bark upon certain successful plays, behavior that was soon parroted by the fans. (Thankfully, they didn’t call them the Parrot Pound.)

Despite fans having to endure some crushing defeats – like the one at the hands of the infamous “Red Right 88” play – they still remain loyal to the team. However, an almost fatal blow to the team came when Art Modell announced in late 1995 that he would be moving the team to Baltimore. Fans were outraged, and it clearly had an effect on the team, who finished that season 5-11. Luckily, a legal settlement allowed the Browns name to stay with the city. With a new stadium completed, the Browns had a new team for Cleveland in 1999.

Rather than recap the extensive history of the team here, there are already many places where a complete history of the team can be found. Details going as far back as the team’s founding in 1946 can be found on Wikipedia. There is also current and historical information on the team’s official web site, , which also includes a great multimedia section . If you’d like a quick video history of the Browns in pictures, take a look at the video below.

Cleveland Browns History

Of course, let’s not forget the old 1950’s-60’s Cleveland Brown’s Fight Song .

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Tour of Cleveland in Vintage Postcards

Here is a short video tour of the city of Cleveland, using vintage postcards from the 1930s-1950s. There are quite a few places of interest represented: the Terminal Tower, Public Square, Euclid Avenue, University Circle, some beautiful public parks, and a few of the city’s most notable bridges, monuments, and structures such as Public Auditorium and the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. It’s easy to see why the city attracted so many people to come live and work here.

A Tour of Cleveland in Vintage Postcards

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge: In Trouble?

Last December, I wrote here about Cleveland’s many bridges (“Cleveland:City of Bridges”). One of the bridges mentioned was the I-90 Innerbelt Bridge, and at the time, there was much concern over the deterioration of the span.

Months later, things haven’t improved. The West 14th Street ramp in Tremont was closed several months ago due to concerns about the bridge structure in that area. This week, commuters were surprised with multiple lane closures and more ramp closures on the I-90 Innerbelt Bridge as the bridge is undergoing extensive inspections. You can read about the current state of the bridge in the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s article, “How serious are the Inner Belt Bridge's problems? Span's future in question”.

While the traffic problems that the inspection is causing is an aggravation, the inspection is a necessity to make sure the bridge is safe - or to determine that it's not. As this bridge is a main artery for those coming into, and passing through the city of Cleveland, it will create major problems if the safety of the bridge forces its closure.

Here’s a short video of the Innerbelt Bridge, taken from the Tremont area of Cleveland, in June of 2007, which gives a good idea of the size, and length of the span.

Also, if you’d rather see the bridge from bridge level, check out this video that shows the drive through the Innerbelt and over the bridge, but the video is sped up so the drive lasts less than a minute. Maybe that’s the best way to go over it right now… very fast!

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.<