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Blue Rock, a lost Cleveland place

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Blue Rock lies forgotten at the base of Cedar Hill. In the 1880s, the settlement rose on a sulfurous spring where Blue Rock and Doan Brooks meet. We explore the locale’s natural setting and historical players–and make sense of crazy landscape change. Hike great local terrain while learning the past, present and (possible) future of one of Cleveland’s special places.

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Blue Rock, a lost Cleveland place

  1. 1. Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood Sat. July 25, 2015, 2-4 pm, $5/person Roy Larick © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org Two-mile interpretive hike RSVP welling@doanbrookpartnership.org 216-325-7781 Doan Brook Watershed Partnership Sponsored by the Led by
  2. 2. Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org Blue Rock rose on a special local natural landscape comprising lower Cedar Glen, the confluence of Blue Rock and Doan Brooks and the outflow of a sulfurous spring. Blue Rock is the forgotten neighborhood at the base of Cedar Hill. The landscape is now dominated by the Nickel Plate/RTA track corridor, several arterial highways and the buildings and parking lots of CWRU and Judson Park. In the 1880s, the Ambler family opened a water cure at the spring and platted residential streets at the foot of Cedar Glen. The Blue Rock hike explores remnants of the once complex natural terrain, outlines the cultural transformation of the natural landscape, and proposes small ways to rebuild ecological function.
  3. 3. Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org The Blue Rock hike begins and ends in the Nighttown parking lot, 12375 Cedar Rd (25¢/hr). We cover ~2 mi of paved and earthen paths with an optional short section on broken ground. The circuit descends ~140' and rises back the same amount. Sat. July 25, 2015, 2-4 pm, $5/person RSVP welling@doanbrookpartnership.org 216-325-7781 Doan Brook Watershed Partnership Sponsored by the
  4. 4. © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org Nature Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood A Bluestone Heights blog post details the Blue Rock Spring area: http://bluestoneheights.org/bsh/2011/06/17/blue-rock-spring/
  5. 5. North Cleveland Cleveland Heights hike pathway LittleItaly Blue Rock Ambler Hts Euclid Hts The name, Blue Rock, likely derives from the Euclid bluestone, the fine sandstone bedrock unit that caps the lowest terrace of the Portage Escarpment. Early settlers quarried 'blue rock' at several terrace locations, including the top of Cedar Hill. In the 1870s, ‘blue rock’ found a national market as Euclid bluestone. bluestone quarry bluestone quarry bluestone quarry The bluestone terrace makes for the Hills rising to the East Side Heights. Mayfield Hill and Cedar Hill are examples. Geologists identify the rock unit as an informal member of the Bedford formation, also calling it the Euclid bluestone.
  6. 6. North Cleveland Cleveland Heights hike pathway LittleItaly Blue Rock Ambler Hts Euclid Hts Blue Rock Brook on the Portage Escarpment Comprising three small branches, Blue Rock Brook drains the Euclid Heights and Ambler Heights neighborhoods, from the bluestone terrace to Doan Brook. In Euclid Heights, the Kent and Deming branches coalesce under Euclid Heights Blvd to descend Cedar Glen. In Ambler Heights, the Ambler branch travels its own ravine to meet the trunk stream at the base of Cedar Hill. bluestone quarry bluestone quarry bluestone quarry
  7. 7. sandstone terrace bluestone terrace Portage Escarpment Schematic view looking southward from Lake Erie Blue Rock hike area Blue Rock Brook descends the Portage Escarpment, Cleveland’s major terrain feature. This ancient bedrock massif resisted the bulldozing effects of Ice Age glaciations. As the last glacier retreated northward about 14 thousand years ago, rushing melt water spawned our ‘escarpment run’ streams including Doan and Blue Rock Brooks. The Blue Rock settlement straddles the confluence of Doan and Blue Rock Brooks at escarpment base. Bedrock deposition, glacial sculpting and stream cutting produced the natural landscape. © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org lake plain
  8. 8. Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org History A Bluestone Heights blog post details the Blue Rock Spring area: http://bluestoneheights.org/bsh/2011/06/17/blue-rock-spring/
  9. 9. 403 411 404 412 1881 1874 403 411 404 412 Blue Rock spring Early Doan’s Corners residents frequented a sulfurous spring in the northern part of Cleveland Original Lot 411. The parcel had ambiguous ownership up through the 1860s. In 1872, dentist Nathan Ambler (1823-1888) and wife Martha Buell bought much of lots 411 and 412, which included the spring and the lower part of Cedar Glen. Shortly thereafter, the Amblers fenced the spring area. Nickel Plate RR construction began in 1881. The line opened in 1883. N.H.Ambler
  10. 10. During the late 1870s, the Amblers took on Daniel O. Caswell (1857- 1906) as business partner and heir. The group began developing Blue Rock. In 1880, Blue Rock Springs opened as a hydrothermal resort, The bathhouse was built directly over the spring with baths cut into the bedrock. Blue Rock Springs Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society NYC&StL Ry Right of Way Map c. 1883
  11. 11. Blue Rock Station? In 1955, CTS built the Cedar rapid transit station on the Cedar site. The RTA Red Line station is called Cedar-University. The platform may have been planned for just north of Cedar or, less likely, just south of Highland. Blue Rock would be a better name! At right, ‘Nickel Plate’ (NYC&SL) Railroad Circular No. 82 is auspicious, but no timetable mentions Station 179 and no map shows any such facility. Might the Ambler group have lobbied for a station that never materialized? NYC&StL Ry Right of Way Map c. 1883 Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society NYC&StL Ry Right of Way Map c. 1883
  12. 12. 403 411 404 412 1898 Daniel O. Caswell was a tireless promoter for the resort. The business grew in popularity during the 1890s, the heydays for the ‘water cure’. By the early 1900s, ‘hydrotherapy’ moved into full service hospitals—just at the time its health benefits were being questioned. Blue Rock Springs responded with more park-like amenities, such as a dance platform and picnic areas. The Blue Rock residential neighborhood was platted in relation to the resort and to the Cedar Ave link between Doan's Corners and the emerging 'Heights'. Blue Rock Place (current Glenwood Ave) and Caswell St (current E. 114th) focused the development which included E Highland St (current Fairchild Ave) as well as parts of Murray Hill, Cedar and Ambleside. From about 1890, houses were built on the north side of Cedar Ave. Blue Rock Brook North and south parts of the map are offset east-west along Cedar Rd. At his death on March 11, 1897, Dare was City of Lakewood engineer and an Early Settlers Association member. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) …
  13. 13. Blue Rock Springs, c. 1900 (WRHS) At left is a unique view of small natural features at the confluence of Doan & Blue Rock Brooks. The photographer shot northwest from under the Nickel Plate Railroad bridge, across Cedar Rd, along Doan Brook (white line below). Visible are two ‘outliers’ (red & white), bedrock islands left, by chance, as the Doan/Blue Rock confluence meandered around the location. The area is now entirely transformed within the University Circle built environment (below left). The one period topographic view comes from the Cleveland Parks Dept map of c. 1900, entitled Eastern Parkway (below).
  14. 14. Blue Rock Place crossed the NKP tracks to enter the resort’s east border. Blue Rock, c. 1900Eastern Parkway map (~1900) Cleveland Public Library The purple contour represents the low bluff around the confluence floodplain, including the crests of the two bedrock ‘island’ outliers.
  15. 15. ‘Blue Rock’ photographs from the Western Reserve Historical Society ?
  16. 16. 403 411 404 412 1920 1912 403 411 404 412 By 1912, the resort was demolished with college athletic fields tooking over the spring area. E. Highland Ave was renamed Fairchild. Blue Rock Place was now Glenwood Ave. As Cedar was becoming a major automobile thoroughfare, it was widened on the north side. Several 1890s houses were demolished. Some houses still stood on the south side of Cedar, along Buell Place (named for Martha Buell Ambler), but they would later be cleared for a yet wider road. In 1920, Blue Rock Brook was still open. The area of its course is now the green space between Cedar and Glenwood. The stream flows directly under the RTA Cedar-University station. The new bioswale symbolizes the stream (slide 22, below).
  17. 17. WRHS 7151 In a development plan of the mid 1920s, neither Blue Rock nor its brook is to be found. Lincoln Storage
  18. 18. Doan Brook Ambler Park infrastructure Cleveland Memory ProjectCleveland Memory Project Cleveland Memory Project Cleveland Memory Project Looking northeast across Doan Brook along old Ambleside to current Ambleside (at cliff base). Looking south-southeast from East Blvd (MLK), up Doan Brook to Fairhill (Stokes Blvd). Looking north-northwest down Doan Brook from Fairhill (Stokes Blvd) to East Blvd (MLK). Looking south-southeast from NKP tracks across East Blvd (MLK) to the Baldwin Reservoir. Doan Brook culvert construction in foreground. In 1929, construction of the Cleveland Union Terminal Railroad was fully recorded in photographs. CSU Special Collections now owns the set which are online as part of the Cleveland Memory Project. Four of many showing CUT RR work around “East Boulevard.” Water mains feeding the Baldwin Reservoir from the Kirtland Pump Station
  19. 19. Looking SSE, up Doan Brook, March 1929 Cleveland Memory Project Gulf north wall, above North Park. Bluestone level near top. Chestnut Hills Dr lies behind the left tree line. camera viewpoint Doan Brook Cleveland Memory Project Cleveland Memory Project In 1894, Martha Ambler and Daniel O. Caswell donated 25 acres for the construction of Ambler Park. At its lower end, the Ambler Park was bordered by East Boulevard. Area landscaping was of high quality. Looking SSE, up Doan Brook, March 1929 Looking SSE, up Doan Brook, Google Earth Ambler Park infrastructure
  20. 20. Blue RockUniversity Circle’s lost neighborhood © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org Hike Highlights A Bluestone Heights blog post details the Blue Rock Spring area: http://bluestoneheights.org/bsh/2011/06/17/blue-rock-spring/ The Blue Rock hike begins and ends in the Nighttown parking lot, 12375 Cedar Rd (25¢/hr). We cover ~2 mi of paved and earthen paths with an optional short section on broken ground. The circuit descends ~140' and rises back the same amount.
  21. 21. Blue Rock hike itinerary 1. Leave Nighttown parking lot. 2. Descend the Ranney ramp at the Case dorms. 3. Visit the Blue Rock area. 4. Head south to Doan Brook and Ambler Park. 5. Stop at the culvert entry. 6. Proceed upstream to the retention basin. 7. Stop at bluestone outcrop. 8. Mount to cross N. Park and go north on Chestnut Hills. 9. Stop at Ambler ravine. 10. Stop at the Gill house. 11. Return to Nighttown. Nighttown parking lot Ranney ramp Blue Rock spring culvert entry retention basin bluestone quarry bluestone outcrop Ambler Park Gill house
  22. 22. Escarpment ramp roads Parallel to local streams, ‘ramps’ connected lowlands and uplands. Native Americans first defined the ramps. Early Euro-American settlers appropriated them. Superior, Lee, Taylor, and Noble Rds are examples. Ranney ramp A true parallel ramp may have traversed the escarpment on land Nathan Ambler sold to Rufus P. Ranney in the 1870s. The ramp now holds the covered switchback stairway linking the lower and upper Case dorms. About 1905, the Southworths graded a second switchback ramp on their property. 1912 For Blue Rock Brook, Cedar Glen Parkway is the exceptional ramp lying within the stream valley.
  23. 23. Blue Rock Brook culvert & RTA bioswale The Blue Rock settlement was platted on the north bank of Blue Rock Brook to face Cedar Glen Parkway. With successive road widening, houses were demolished and the brook was buried. The culvert lies under the green space between current Cedar and Glenwood. In front of the new RTA Cedar-University Red Line station, the bioswale essentially lies over the brook. Blue Rock significance Blue Rock typified a natural amenity settlement of the late 1800s. Springs, streams, rock outcrops and the Lake Erie shoreline served as natural bases. In some places, a Christian tabernacle took advantage of the amenity. Blue Rock, like many amenity settlements, lost its nature during the early 1900s. The RTA bioswale is a first attempt to recover a small bit of Blue Rock Brook.
  24. 24. Ambler Park culvert entry The entrance to the University Circle culvert sits below grade. Stream flow crosses a weir and then drops down to the culvert level. The entry is an impressive brick structure. Doan Brook University Circle culvert Upon leaving Blue Rock, the hike heads upstream on Doan Brook to Ambler Park. Here, we find Doan as it drops into the University Circle culvert. From this point in Ambler Park, Doan flows underground all the way to southern Wade Park. Along the way, it picks up Blue Rock Brook.
  25. 25. Doan Brook Ambler Park retention basin From the culvert entry, we trek upstream to arrive at the Ambler Park retention basin, shown here after a heavy rainfall. After viewing the monstrosity, we climb up over the Euclid bluestone to arrive at the intersection of North Park Blvd and Chestnut Hills Dr. Euclid bluestone outcrop above the retention basin
  26. 26. Ambler Ravine Blue Rock Brook’s Ambler branch drains much of Ambler Hts. It descends a small ravine to meet the trunk stream near the base of Cedar Hill. The ravine cuts through Euclid bluestone and Cleveland Shale bedrock units. The ravine bottom is full of bluestone rubble. The area has bluestone retaining walls. The 1898 map shows the Ambler branch traversing a street grid never fully implemented. Currently, Chestnut Hills Drive derives from sections of Beacon Hill St, ‘Ave’ and ‘Harcourt’. Harcourt derives from Northwood Ave projected southward to North Park Blvd. The L.H. Elliott house, the first built in Ambler Hts, is a Cleveland Heights landmark. It sits in an area once called Glen Point. 1898
  27. 27. Glen Point quarry Lying between the Ambler Ravine and Cedar Glen, Glen Point is a bluestone promontory. Much of the area was quarried in the late 1800s, possibly for the bluestone retaining wall on the south side of Cedar Glen. The east quarry wall remains visible on the Gill house lot. Gill House Kermode F. Gill headed the firm that built many of Cleveland’s finer buildings, including the Terminal Tower complex. In 1911, Gill had F.B. Meade design a house to be set into the quarry at 2178 Harcourt.
  28. 28. Blue Rock © 2015 Bluestone Heights bluestoneheights.org Meet: Nighttown parking lot, Cedar-Fairmount The Blue Rock hike begins and ends in the Nighttown parking lot, 12375 Cedar Rd--bring quarters. We cover ~2 mi of paved and earthen paths with an optional short section on broken ground. The circuit descends ~140' and rises back the same amount. RSVP welling@doanbrookpartnership.org 216-325-7781 July 25, 2015 2-4 pm, $5/person Two-mile interpretive hike Doan Brook Watershed Partnership Sponsored by the
  29. 29. Roy Larick Walk back in time Look to the Future Euclid bluestone outcrop Doan Brook, Cleveland OH Bluestone Heights © 2015 Bluestone Heights R. Larick A production by bluestoneheights.org roylarick@gmail.com

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