Upon graduating from St. Vincent - St. Mary H.S. in June of 1988, one of my most memorable activities to pass the time during that unbearably hot summer was driving my 1964 Oldsmobile F-85 convertible; Canary Yellow, black vinyl interior and AM radio. Seat belts not included. For entertainment and to get out of the house, my friends and I would gather together and go for a drive, somewhere, anywhere, because that what we did as teenagers, drive. A four-barrel carburetor powered a small block V-8 350 cubic in engine that provided the horsepower as well as smiling faces from those enjoying the ride. Yes, the raw horsepower was a rush, especially with the top down. We loved the change of scenery and the adventure of a destination unknown. We love to drive and still do today.
I was a news photographer for Sun Newspapers based out of the Medina County office from 1998 – 2005. It was in this area that I traveled U.S. Route 42 constantly between the cities of Medina and Brunswick for my photo assignments. During that period, I viewed Route 42 just as a road, in the most basic sense. It is named North Court Street in Medina and Pearl Road in Brunswick, asphalt and paint, nothing special, just a road.
ARTISTIC INTEREST AND GENERAL HISTORY OF U.S. ROUTE 42
As time passed from my departure at Sun News my trait of general curiosity remained. Over time I would drive on Route 42 and my interest of the expansion and revitalization of small towns and big cities of this region developed. Witnessing led to exploring.
The historical record of Medina County cites the origin of U.S. Route 42 traces back to the early 1800’s in Harrisville Township in Medina County, Ohio, a wilderness county at the time. The history book describes it like this. . . In order to expand commerce from what is today, The Village of Lodi, between neighboring towns and counties, farms had to be cleared, buildings erected and roads opened leading north to Medina, south to Wooster, north to Elyria and east to Middlebury. The planning of a tire road leading to Medina was declared as a State Road by which the Legislature had made an appropriation. In the spring of 1816, an early pioneer named James S. Redfield (after whom Redfield Street in Lodi is named) took the job of chopping through trees and sculpted a corduroy road from the center of Harrisville to the southwest corner of Medina. Mr. Redfield constructed fifty-seven (57) rods of bridges and causeways and completed this modern route near the first of September on that year. This road was later deemed too curvy, so the first governmental road through the region was straightened. In later years, this road became U.S. Route 42.
Cleveland to Louisville: Forest City to Derby City
Today U.S. Route 42 in Ohio is classified as an ordinary town-to-town surface road that is 59.3% rural and 40.7% urban. At its most northern point, U.S. 42 finds its terminus at the intersection of Superior Avenue and Ontario Street in the middle of Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, Cuyahoga County. At its most southern point in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton County, U.S. 42 crosses over to Covington, Kentucky on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. Between these two larger Ohio cities, Cleveland and Cincinnati, U.S. 42 connects fourteen (14) counties and nearly fifty (50) towns and cities with an approximate distance of two hundred and forty-three (243) miles. At its most southern point, the terminus for U.S. 42 meets Story Avenue and East Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky, Jefferson County. Cleveland to Louisville on U.S. Route 42, point to point, north to south, is the approximate distance of 346 miles.
My ongoing photographic mission is to capture elements of beauty about the wide-ranging entities that are present among the land and scenery within the urban, suburban and rural areas along US 42 and other roads. Out of reverence for the documentary and street photographers of the 20th century, I treat my digital camera as if it were loaded with a roll of old-fashioned Kodachrome 35mm slide film. I capture beauty by composing my photographs using the available elements of our planet; illumination, space, time, surface and color.