Travels to the Heartland, page 4. July 9-16, 2006

by Earl Cook

Cincinnati is located along the mighty Ohio River at its intersection with Interstate Highway 75. I-75 is the highway that is called the 'backbone of America'.

Following basically the route of the old Dixie Highway, the interstate highway runs from near the Canadian border to the tip of Florida. North of the Ohio River, you are in the American 'North' and cross the river to the south and you are in the American 'South'.

Catch a boat here and you can go anywhere in the world.


For this portion of the Heartland series, we went a few miles from home, took a right onto I-75, drove 460 miles, got off I-75 and we were at the Radisson Riverfront in Covington, Kentucky. This was our destination for the 31st Touch for Health annual conference and would be our home for a week. I-75 was just outside our window.

I pondered the thought about how I-75 was the 'spine of America' and equated places I had lived with a corresponding Vertebrae. Life consists of many metaphors and this is one that I like. But it seems I might be spending too much of my life on I-75!

Using this analogy, I was born at C-5, grew up at T-12, now live at T-10 and the conference was being held at T-5! Believe me, all of this had great significance to me on my journey! After the conference, we would go 1/2 block, take a right onto I-75, go 255 miles, get off I-75 and go two miles to visit a family member that lives at C5.


I had first traveled through Cincinnati when nine months old while traveling from Detroit to Albany, Georgia. My first memories of Cincinnati are from when I was 6 or 7 years of age. I remember coming through downtown Cincinnati on the Trailways bus just after Christmas. It was night and the lights were beautiful reflecting off all of the snow as it fell. That was a special memory about a holiday many years ago that occurred in Cincinnati.

The photo at left is taken just after the summer sunrise and when the I-75 highway is the calmest that it will be for a long while.


Our home for the conference was the Radisson Riverfront that sits at the intersection of I-75 and the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. The hotel is in a great location and offers great views of the Cincinnati skyline.


The Wheelhouse of the Belle of Cincinnati as she goes beneath the I-471 bridge known in Cincinnati as the 'Big Mac Bridge' due to its 'golden arches'.

Cincinnati is an area of rivers, bridges and boats with a long history. Steam powered Riverboats have plied the Ohio River from Pennsylavania to the Mississippi for over 150 years. It really amazes me that you can get on a boat here and sail to any port in the world.

As the top of the smokestacks seemed to come close to the bottom of the bridge, I asked the captain how they managed to go beneath if the river flooded. He said they simply folded the stacks back and they rested in the cradles seen at the left (if you look closely).


A photo from 1890 is displayed in the Radisson Riverfront Hotel lobby and shows a large number of paddle-driven riverboats docked along the river. Today, the Ohio River contains 1400 miles of navigable waters including her tributaries.

Gary Lucy, an artist in St. Louis, has undertaken a two year effort to create a mural along the Mississippi that features the great riverboat race between the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez. The Natchez was built in Pennsylavania and sailed down the Ohio past Cincinnati on her way to duty on the Mississippi.


One of our favorite bridges was the Purple People Bridge. Closed to auto and train traffic, the old L&N Railway Bridge is now a pedestrian-only bridge. It is free to walk across the bridge, but for $60 a person, you can walk/climb across the top.

On the southside of the bridge is the Newport Mall with restaurants, movie theatre and on the northside in Cincinnati is a great new riverside park integrated with the Cincinnati riverfront.


Purple (and yellow) people walking across the top of the Purple People Bridge. They get a wonderful view of the Ohio River and the surrounding cities. People must wear these jumpsuits (not to be taken literally!) and a safety harness that is connected to a cable on the bridge.

We walked across the bridge and around the riverfront park but did not go on the climb across the top.


There are a variety of boats on the river. While these boats are not steam-powered, they still offer a fun experience and great views of the river and skylines.



I was amazed at the size of the barges that transverse the river and watched as this tug had to turn this huge load from what seemed to be two blocks behind the front of the load.

It seemed that this barge and tug spanned the distance between two bridges! This is looking downriver from the Purple People Bridge.


Cincinnati's Riverside Park. This area forms a plaza with seating for riverside events. The two stadiums are in the background.


The stage in the Riverside Park with the 'Big Mac Bridge' in the background.


A sculpture in the Riverside Park.


Chief Little Turtle 1752-1812 looks north out over the skyline of Cincinnati from the shores of Covington, Kentucky. This great Miami War Chief fought the onrush of European Settlers and defeated two American armies with a confederation of Miami, Shawnee and Delaware Indians before finally being defeated himself in 1794. In 1795 he signed the Treaty of Green Visle and pledged, "I am the last to sign it and will be the last to break it."

The great John James Audubon 1785-1851. He is best known as a painter of birds and for his series the Birds of America. Audubon came to the Northern Kentucky area in 1819 and made many drawings near the place of this statue which is at the intersection of the Ohio and Licking Rivers. It was this experience that converted him from amateur to professional painter. Audubon left the area and embarked on his mammoth project to record The Birds of North America which was published in 1829.

Cincinnati has done a phenomenal job in developing its riverfront parks. This is looking back from Covington towards the Reds Stadium during a baseball game.

While at our conference, we took a riverboat dinner cruise. As we passed the stadium, Ken Griffy, Jr. hit homerun #555 and the fireworks went off! A few minutes later there was another homerun with fireworks again! Cincinnati has really done a nice job of improving their riverfront.


The Roebling Suspension Bridge at left is an old graceful suspension bridge built in 1856-57. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world and its design was the predecessor to the Brooklyn Bridge. I first crossed this bridge as a 9-month baby while traveling from Detroit to southern Georgia. U.S. 25, the highway that crosses it, was known as the Dixie Highway.


Men will race whatever they can and whereever they can. Here a hydroplane race starts from the Covington, Kentucky shoreline.


Here the boats round the pilings of one of the many bridges crossing the river. The Belle of Cincinnati can be seen in the distance rounding a curve in the river.


The Mother of God Church in Covington is an Italian Renaissance style church built in 1871 with stain glass windows imported from Munich, Germany in 1890. Known as the 'Cradle of the Arts', the church has five murals by Johann Schmitt and wall frescoes painted in 1890 by Wenceslaus Thien. The 38-rank Koehnken and Grimm organ was built in 1876.

We could see the twin spires of the church from many places around Covington and Cincinnati. We were only able to get photos from the outside, but now realize what a beauty we missed. Maybe one day we will be back and can enjoy the inner beauty of this historic church.


The home of Col. Harland Sanders in Corbin, Kentucky. As a kid traveling between Detroit, Michigan and Albany, Georgia on a Trailways Bus, we would stop in Corbin at Col. Sanders' Cafe back in the mid-1950's. After so many memories, I convinced Gail to allow me to stop so that I could reconnect an old memory with the place.

The Colonel and Gail.


©2006 Earl Cook