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Cleveland Goodtime III Harbour Tour and Stations 8/18/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I ate breakfast at the La Quinta in Macedonia before we both did our regular Internet browsing then checked out and drove to the Everett Covered Bridge.

The information about the bridge.

The Everett Covered Bridge built in 1877, which crosses Furnace Run, is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. When it was built, it was one of over 2,000 in the state. During that period, Ohio led the nation in covered bridge construction. This bridge played an important role in the transportation system of its time. Local histories emphasize the role of the Ohio & Erie Canal. With the canal, farmers could ship products to Cleveland and beyond. But to get to the canal and other local destinations, people needed functional roads.

Elizabeth then drove us into Cleveland for the noon boat tour and we parked in a pay parking lot and walked over to the pier where the boat was docked. On the way, one passes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but decided not to pay $40 to see it.

The Rock and Hall of Fame building in Cleveland. We picked up our boat tickets and started the line for boarding.

Goodtime III history

Goodtime III is the largest excursion boat in Cleveland and is able to hold up to 1,000 passengers. The four-deck boat is equipped with 3 bars and 2 dance floors. Its dimensions are 151-by-40 feet. The boat provides sightseeing tours of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie that include both local and natural history of the region. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and a dining area. The Goodtime III averages about 300 tours a year.


The Goodtime III is part of a series of boats named Goodtime, Goodtime I and Goodtime II. The first Goodtime tour took place on the Goodtime I in 1958 when brothers, Vince and Herb Fryan started taking the 150-passenger boat out for tours on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. The Fryan brothers sold the Goodtime I in 1965, keeping only the larger Goodtime II. The Goodtime II could hold up to 475 guests. Goodtime II was renamed Liberty Bell II and the first Goodtime was still operating in Sandusky in the 1990s. These boats were in turn named after another Goodtime that carried passengers on Lake Erie and was run by the Cleveland and Buffalo Transit Company between 1924 and 1938. This passenger boat was originally named the City of Detroit II and had been built in 1889.

The Fryan brothers sold the business to Vince's son, Jim Fryan in 1984. Rick Fryan, grandson of Vince, currently runs the Goodtime III. He started working as a deckhand and salesman for the company in 1986. Jim Fryan decided to build Goodtime III in 1988. Goodtime III arrived in Cleveland, Ohio in September 1990 and was anchored at the Ninth Street Pier. It started public cruises in 1991.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the boat was captained by Bruce Hudec, who started working on the ship as a deckhand in 1971. In 2013, Hudec started training Jordan Kit to work as a captain. Kit became the youngest captain to sail the Goodtime III.

A picture of the Goodtime III boat at the dock. At 11:30 boarding commenced and we stepped aboard, climbing to the top deck. We took chairs from a stack and set them up at the back of the port (left) side.

Pre-departure views of Cleveland from the third deck.

My most beautiful wife in her seat on the third deck. At noon we set sail.

The staduim where the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League play.

The dock from where the Goodtime III is launched.

The Cleveland Cliffs iron ore carrier boat.

The stadium of the Cleveland Browns.

The north end of the dock from where Goodtime III is launched.

The twin lighthouses at the entrance of Cleveland Harbor, the Cleveland West Pierhead Light and Cleveland East Entrance Lighthouse.

The most modern dock at Cleveland Harbor.

Thunderheads were building to the northwest.

The boat turned and headed up the Cuyahoga River.

Good view of the Cleveland skyline.

The west bank at the enterance of the Cuyahoga River.

The skyline of Cleveland.

The railroad bridge, in the up position, is used by Norfolk Southern and Amtrak's Capitol Limited and Lakeshore Limited trains.

A look back at the lighthouses at the Cleveland Harbor enterance to Lake Erie.

The United States Coast Guard main facility at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

We passed the Nautica Queen on her runs with tourist.

The railroad bridge used by Norfolk Southern and Amtrak.

Cleveland Light Rail's Waterfront Line which is currently not in operation due to bridge construction issues.

Norfolk Southern drawbridge tower.

This Baltimore and Ohio lift bridge is no longer in operation.

A view up the Cuyahoga River.

The Interstate 90 bridge across the Cuyahoga River.

A second old Baltimore and Ohio bridge.

One of the many waterfront buildings and Settlers Landing Park.

Jacob Mall Brewing Company.

West Superior Avenue bridge.

A second old Baltimore and Ohio bridge.

The old road bridge grounded to the earth.

West Superior Avenue bridge.

Chas W. Stearns 1857 Stone Yard.

This bridge is used by Cleveland RTA Red Line with one of their trains at the west end.

Cleveland Rowing Foundation.

A Red Line train on their bridge across the Cuyahoga River.

That Red Line bridge and Columbus Road bridge.

Rivergate Park.

Columbus Road bridge.

The Foundry in Irish Bend.

Grain elevators and Columbus Road bridge.

The Carter Road bridge and downtown Cleveland.

Another Red Line train crosses their bridge.

The Red Line heads into downtown Cleveland.

A full view of the Norfolk Southern/Nickel Plate Road bridge across the Cuyahoga River.

Volleyball courts and the skyline of Cleveland.

The Norfolk Southern/Nickel Plate Road bridge across the Cuyahoga River as we near it.

The Flats of Cleveland.

The old Union Station in Cleveland now used by Cleveland RTA rail service.

More of the Flats of Cleveland. Here is where the boat turned around.

The act of turning the Goodtime III boat.

The last Cleveland Fire Department fireboat.

The Norfolk Southern/Nickel Plate Road bridge as we approach it again.

The Red Line bridge as we returned down the river.

The Norfolk Southern bridge.

You can see where the Cleveland Guardians play, the former Cleveland Indians, at Progressive Field.

Cleveland has come a long way from it start as a steel town to a modern city.

My beautiful wife Elizabeth was really enjoying her cruise this afternoon.

Under these bridges we will return.

Your author was also having a good time.

Another view of grain elevators along our journey.

The fire on the Cuyahoga River

The Cuyahoga River caught fire at least a dozen Times, but no one cared until. Despite being much smaller than previous fires, the river blaze in Cleveland 50 years ago became a symbol for the nascent environmental movement. It was the summer of 1969, and recent high school graduate Tim Donovan needed a job to pay his college tuition. When it came to well-paid summer work in Cleveland, there was one good place to look: the steel mills. Donovan went to work as a hatch tender for Jones & Laughlin Steel, standing at the top of machines stationed along the river to help unload ore carriers. It was his first real interaction with the Cuyahoga River, and the experience didn't endear him to it. "The river was a scary little thing," Donovan says. "There was a general rule that if you fell in, God forbid, you would go immediately to the hospital. The water was nearly always covered in oil slicks, and it bubbled like a deadly stew. Sometimes rats floated by, their corpses so bloated they were practically the size of dogs. It was disturbing, but it was also just one of the realities of the city. For more than a century, the Cuyahoga River had been prime real estate for various manufacturing companies. Everyone knew it was polluted, but pollution meant industry was thriving, the economy was booming, and everyone had jobs. To the surprise of no one who worked on the Cuyahoga, an oil slick on the river caught fire the morning of Sunday, June 22, 1969. The blaze only lasted about 30 minutes, extinguished by land-based battalions and one of the city's fireboats. It caused about $50,000 in damage to railroad bridges spanning the river and earned a small amount of attention in the local press. The fire was so small and short-lived that no one managed to get a single photo of it. For Donovan, the summer ended uneventfully and he went off to school without having thought much further on the state of Lake Erie or the Cuyahoga River. Time magazine published an article on the fire, with an accompanying photo from an incident in 1952. National Geographic featured the river in their December 1970 cover story "Our Ecological Crisis" (but managed to get the date of the fire wrong). Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency in January 1970, for the first time creating a federal bureau to oversee pollution regulations. In April 1970, Donovan was one of 1,000 students marching down to the river for the country's first Earth Day. The nation, it seemed, had suddenly woken up to the realities of industrial pollution, and the Cuyahoga River was the symbol of calamity.

But on the day of the fire, it had meant nothing to the masses. Only in the following months and years did the fire gain its strange significance. As historians David and Richard Stradling write, "The fire took on mythic status, and errors of fact became unimportant to the story's obvious meaning. Clearly this transformative fire must have been massive; the nation must have seen the flames and been appropriately moved. Neither is true." The Civil War turned Cleveland into a manufacturing city almost overnight. The Cuyahoga River, just south of the city's downtown area, snaking for 100 miles across Ohio and emptying into Lake Erie, proved the perfect place for factories to set up camp. American Ship Building, Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, Republic Steel and Standard Oil all rose up from Cleveland, and the river bore the toxic legacy of their success. By the 1870s, the river had served as an open sewer and dump site for long enough that it was already threatening the city's water supply. In 1922, engineers at the Water Department of Cleveland did tests of the city's drinking water to respond to claims that the water tasted medicinal or like carbolic acid. Their findings: "The polluted water of the Cuyahoga River reached the water works intakes, and this polluted water contained the material which caused the obnoxious taste."

Everyone knew the river was polluted, but nobody much cared. If anything, it was a badge of honor. As David Newton writes in Chemistry of the Environment, "Fundamentally this level of environmental degradation was accepted as a sign of success." In 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948 and 1952 the river caught fire, writes Laura La Bella in Not Enough to Drink: Pollution, Drought, and Tainted Water Supplies. Those are some of the incidents we're aware of; it's hard to say how many other times oil slicks may have ignited, as press coverage and fire department records were both inconsistent. But not all the fires were as innocuous as that of 1969. Some caused millions of dollars' worth of damage and killed people. But even with the obvious toll on the landscape, regulation of industry was limited at best. It seemed more important to keep the economy booming, the city growing and people working. This attitude was reflected in cities around the country. The Cuyahoga was far from the only river to catch fire during the period. Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Buffalo and Galveston all used different methods to disperse oil on their waters in order to prevent fires.

But the tide began to turn in the 1950s, according to the Stradlings. Between 1952 and 1969, Cleveland lost about 60,000 manufacturing jobs. Deindustrialization took hold alongside the Civil Rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. "Over the years, Clevelanders were hardly complacent about the burning river, but not until the 1970s did they begin to think of its meaning in anything other than economic turns", the Stradlings write. "That the Cuyahoga fire evolved into one of the great disasters of the environmental crisis tells us something about Americans' growing suspicion of industrial landscapes, a suspicion encouraged by the decreasing benefits they derived from such places".

By 1968, the city was actively trying to clean up the river. That year, voters approved a $100 million bond program to fund cleanup, and the city attempted to improve its sewage system so as not to pollute the lake. After the 1969 fire, Cleveland's mayor Carl Stokes, the first African-American elected to the position in any major American city, worked with his brother, Louis, in Congress to push for environmental regulation. Though the '69 fire was relatively small, the two brothers helped shape public perception of it as a turning point.

"The story goes that it was the 1969 river fire that directly led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, but I think it was a little bit more complicated than that", says Rebekkah Rubin, a public historian who collected oral histories for the 50th anniversary of the fire. "But for people who weren't paying much attention to environmental advocacy, it's easy to get behind the cleanup of a river that's on fire."

Over the years, the river transformed from a dump site to a place for recreation. Today, Rubin sees people on the river kayaking, fishing and cruising on stand-up paddle boards, though she admits that such recreations are still not available to everyone in the city. "The river doesn't flow through the neighborhoods that tend to be more low income and more segregated, but I think it should be a resource available for all Clevelanders".

Despite its new life, the river still shows signs of its former degradation. In 2018, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that EPA scientists tested dozens of sites along the river bottom and found that polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels remain dangerously high. Other scientists have cautioned that the river is still "burning" with viruses, bacteria and parasites, including Salmonella, Clostridium, enteroviruses, Giardia and hepatitis A". But even with these remaining issues, the Cuyahoga is unrecognizable compared to what it was a mere 50 years ago—as is the case with numerous waterways around America.

Donovan, who today works as the director of the nonprofit Canalway Partners, has spent years working to build a path along the Cuyahoga River Canal that will make it more accessible to all Cleveland residents. He sees the river differently now, as if it and the city have undergone an identity crisis and are now settling into their new roles. "As the river gets cleaned up, entertainment options become more viable," Donovan says. "Nobody is going to be sitting on a river with bloated rats floating by. It reflects the changing perception of what's important here". And for Donovan and Rubin alike, it's a change worth celebrating, even if there's still work to be done.

On the trip back to Lake Erie the Norfolk Southern bridge was down and soon an eastbound stack train came through. We then headed towards the lighthouses.

Cleveland East Entrance Lighthouse.

Cleveland West Pierhead Light.

Looking west at the shore of Lake Erie.

Looking up the Cuyahoga River.

Cleveland East Entrance Lighthouse and the Cleveland skyline.

The Cleveland skyline.

Looking west along the shoreline of Lake Erie

Looking east along the shoreline.

Clouds are building behind Cleveland.

Two views looking north across Lake Erie.

Looking east at the clouds.

Clouds are really building behind Cleveland.

There is a train on this west of the Cuyahoga River.

Cleveland West Pierhead Light.


Cleveland East Entrance Lighthouse.

Views on the return to the dock. Since we had arrived back a little early, the captain made an announcement that we would go up the next harbour to see the submarine.

United States Submarine Cod 224 is a Gato-class submarine, the only vessel of the United States Navy to be named for the cod, an important and very popular food fish of the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut on 21 July 1942. The submarine's five diesel engines were built by General Motors Cleveland Diesel Plant on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. She was launched on 21 March 1943 (sponsored by Mrs. G.M. Mahoney), and commissioned on 21 June 1943 with Commander James C. Dempsey, USN; in command. Dempsey had already won fame by sinking the first Japanese destroyer lost in the war while in command of USS S-37, a tiny World War I-era submarine. She is now a National Historic Landmark, preserved as a memorial and museum ship permanently moored in Cleveland, Ohio, and is open to visitors daily from 1 May to 30 September.

Coast Guard boats at their base.

The tallest building in Cleveland.

Our dock with Rock and Roll Museum behind it.

United States Army Barge DC 6124.

United States Submarine Cod 224. The pulled back to the dock and Elizabeth and I disembarked. We walked back to the car and Elizabeth drove us to Olmstead Falls.

Grand Pacific Junction Baltimore and Ohio speeder 100.

Grand Pacific Junction caboose 8802 is really Chicago and North Western caboose 8084.

Grand Pacific Junction 0-4-0 8082 is really Sturm & Dillard 0-4-0T 100 built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1922, in 1946 transferred to John Dillard at Syracuse, Indiana. Later that year, it was sold to South Bend Sand & Gravel Corporation 100 then donated to the Scottsdale Club at Swanson Heights, Indiana in 1970 and sold seven years later to Cleon Miner.

This Baltimore and Ohio station was named "Berea" but really was from Middleburg Heights. It resided at Trolleyville USA for many years (Trolleyville closed in 2005) until being moved to Olmsted Falls in late 2008. From here we drove over to the actual station in this lovely Ohio town.

The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway station in Olmstead Falls Station, built in 1912. This railway was established in 1833 and sometimes referred to as the Lake Shore, was a major part of the New York Central Railroad's Water Level Route from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago, Illinois, primarily along the south shore of Lake Erie (in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio) and across northern Indiana. The line's trackage remains a major rail transportation corridor used by Amtrak passenger trains and several freight lines; in 1998, its ownership was split at Cleveland between CSX to the east and Norfolk Southern in the west. The station currently houses a model railway club.

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 478062 built by the railroad in 1951.

A double tri-color signal.

Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway land line marker sign.

A triple tri-color signal.

Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway stone mile post sign.

Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway stone whistle sign.

Museum view. I drove us east to Berea.

New York Central BE Tower still stands in Berea. Berea is "CP 194" on NS -- 194 miles from Buffalo because NS uses the former NYC mileage measurements on the "Chicago Line". On CSX Berea is "MP 21.5", based on the mileage from Collinwood Yard via CUT.

Berea has been a major factor on the Cleveland railroad scene since the mid-1860s when several predecessors of the New York Central System (NYC) laid their tracks on roughly the same alignment as what you see today. The Berea Union Depot, now The Station Restaurant, dates from 1878 and was the city's passenger station until 1958.

Berea, today, is at least the third rebuilding of the interlocking which was done in the late 1950s, with some modification in 1999. At the height of the NYC, later PennCentral, the "Chicago Line"-- today's NS route -- had four tracks. The inner pair (Tracks 1 and 2) were for high- speed passenger and freight trains, and the outer pair (now cut back to Track 4 and the North Controlled Siding) were for regular freight and slower passenger trains.

CSX's "Columbus Line" is the ex-NYC "Big Four Route," and originally was the main passenger route from Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT). It had three tracks through Berea Depot, and two tracks west of there, but in the late 1970's Conrail reduced these to a single track (CSX Track 1). CSX reinstalled Track 2 as part of the 1999 Conrail breakup. At one time high-speed crossovers west of the depot connected the "Chicago" and "Big Four" lines for passenger trains in and out of the Berea Depot and CUT.

Berea Tower closed in 1997 and its functions were transferred to Conrail's, now NS', dispatching center in Dearborn, MI, which controls the "Chicago Line" with NS "Cleveland Terminal" and "Toledo East" dispatchers, as well as some local control from Rockport Yard.

CSX's "IG" dispatcher at its Indianapolis center dispatches both the "Columbus Line" and the "Short Line." In February, 2009, CSX extended the IG dispatcher's territory from CP 13 (West Rd., Berea, all the way to Greenwich (CP 54), about 50 miles from Berea as part of a realignment of dispatching territories in Ohio.

Pullman Parlor-Lounge 7012 "Berean" built by Pullman in 1927, now known as "Rotary Club".

The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway station here, built in 1876. It houses the Depot Restaurant.

The Ohio Historical sign about the depot.

Old railroad tracks across the street in the trees that a passerby pointed out to us; the railway is unknown.

Norfolk Southern 3669 East came through as we were eating our linner in the Depot Restaurant where I enjoyed a very good hamburger and Elizabeth had the fish and chips.

Norfolk Southern local with 5812 in the lead.

Track 15 and 16 board from Cleveland Union Station is inside the restaurant.

The rear of a CSX train at Berea as we were walking back to the car. Fortified, the two of us continued our station hunting this afternoon and drove to Medina.

The freight station of the Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Railroad (a predecessor of the Baltimore and Ohio) in Medina, built in 1900.

Chesapeake and Ohio coach 1658, ex. Amtrak 5256, exx. Seaboard Coast Line 5256, exxx. Seaboard Air Line 6424, nee C&O 1658, built by Pullman-Standard 1958 and owned by C&O Historical Society.

Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Medina passenger station built in 1894. I drove us to the station in Sterling.

Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Sterling freight station built in 1897. Our next stop was in Rittman.

Erie Railroad Rittman station built in 1913.

Old Erie station signal. I drove us over to the other station in town.

Baltimore and Ohio Rittman statiion built in 1891. Our last stop of the day was Barberton.

Erie Railroad Barberton station built in 1890. Elizabeth then drove us to Canton and we stayed at the Ramada Inn for the night.