Type 2 Diabetic. Cyclist Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bright Blue Water and the Tea Potty

08/19/12 236# 53m
Took my bike in another direction today, and rode out to Ohio and West Virginia. I've been hearing a lot about the Tea Potty lately and wanted to see what was new.

The first leg of my ride took me from Aliquippa, through Monaca and Rochester to Beaver (the Sewickley of Beaver County, don'tcha know) and then west on Route 68, as shown:

Right at the WV-OH-PA border is a spot (red dot) called the Point of Beginning, which is a historically significant position in terms of land surveying and territorial policy. But today's post is (partially) about what you can see across the river when you're standing on that red dot. See that lake on the south side of the Ohio River?

Here's a National Geographic story about that lake and what's in it: Largest U.S. Coal Ash Pond to Close, and they helpfully include a satellite photo:

What's kind of interesting is FirstEnergy (a corporation, surprise!) has used that lake to store a lot of very bad chemicals for decades, and in fact they've turned the lake's water into a beautiful tropical blue. Even in the winter time, with snow on the ground, the lake looks like the Caribbean. Pilots flying over are often puzzled by it. Better Living With Chemicals, I suppose.

As the National Geographic article explains, the Pennsylvania state government is reluctantly shutting down the use of the Little Blue Run coal ash pond because it's leaking and poisoning the water and people in the local area. The pond itself is half in Pennsylvania, half in West Virginia, and nobody really wants to be responsible for this leaking pond of poisons.

On today's ride I thought I'd take a picture of what the "Little Blue Run coal ash pond" looks like from the north side of the Ohio River, just for gee-whiz, and it looks like this:

Standing on the north side of the Ohio River, the photo shows the hills on the south shore, and the huge earthen dam which contains the Little Blue Run coal ash pond — which, may I restate, is full of poisons and leaking.

If that dam leaks, WOW that pretty blue stuff is just going to pour into the Ohio River and run downstream (away from the Pennsylvania regulators, btw) and it'll be a huge environmental disaster. It seems like a stupid place to store fatal toxins, especially since it's happened before with disastrous results - Kentucky in 2008, Kentucky in 2000, North Carolina in 1978. I'm sure somebody's taking care of it, now. < / enviro rant off>

Continued into East Liverpool Ohio, once the Pottery Capital of the World.

This mural is still being painted on the Masonic Temple by Gina Hampson.

The mural includes the Jennings Randolph Bridge, Carnegie Public Library, the Alumni Clock Tower, Kent State University's logo, two bottleneck kilns, the world's largest teapot, two river boats, the Boy with the Boot statue, a locomotive, the YMCA, emblems from both East Liverpool and Wellsville high schools and logos representing the Mason organization.

This legacy mural, at Fourth and Market Streets, shows barrels marked with the names of local businesses (Hall China, Pioneer Pottery) on the dock for steamship movement.

Departed East Liverpool via the Newell Bridge to Newell, WV. The Newell Bridge, built in 1905, is the only privately-owned toll bridge on the Ohio River; it is owned and operated by the Homer Laughlin China Company, based in Newell. My completely unscientific sampling suggests that most of the bridge's traffic is going to the nearby casino and racetrack. It's a great bridge (bicyclists cross free) with a steel-deck for the autos and wooden planks on the walkway.

Rode through a bit of Newell and across Chester, WV, stopping to take a photo of my trusty steed with the World's Biggest Teapot, an anachronistic coffee shop from the days when Route 30 was a big deal.

For all I've been hearing about the Tea Potty, I expected to see some activity but all was quiet. I took a slightly different route back, it's been a while since I climbed up from Shippingport to Route 18.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find a mural on Green Garden Road, at Vic's Van Daddy Shop, 4264 Green Garden Road:

I'm still really pleased with the new wheels, and especially the braking effectiveness of the new (true) rims as opposed to the old (warped) rims.

53 miles, finished at sunset, a very nice ride.

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