Thursday, August 7, 2014

Human Aqueducts by the Highway



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- An abandoned water slide overgrown with brush.

Ancient Rome built aqueducts to carry water to the cities, modern Americans build them for entertainment. In some cases, both varieties become ruins of the past.





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I had been passing the slides for years, seeing them every time I made the trip to Athens, Ohio during my first year and a half of college. When I left Ohio University and transferred schools, there wasn't much reason for me to travel this route. Yet, I remembered the abandoned slides atop their hill overlooking the highway. Since starting Queen City Discovery in 2007, I've had the opportunity to photograph several different abandoned waterparks. This place had the usual marking: overgrown fiberglass aqueducts that once carried chlorinated water and human beings. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never made the effort to go see it.

Then one morning I woke up - decided to say the hell with the day and go off in search of this place. It was going to mark my return to Urban Exploration after a drought. I fell asleep on my couch though watching Golden Girls and then the day was gone as "thank you for being a friend" echoed through my  apartment.

I forgot about the slides again until July 4th. It was hot and you could see the heat radiating off the asphalt as I took the highway to go visit with family. As a former amusement park employee, I knew that the local "Beach" and "Kings Island" waterparks must've been packed that day, filled with people enjoying the day off from work and trying to find relief from the heat.

The thought of crowded waterparks reminded me of the highway slides again. I rang up two friends, Caitlin and Matt, and said that if they could meet me in 35 minutes we were going on an adventure. They're good folks, because I didn't really explain what we were going to look for, they just kind of took my neurotic phone calls on faith and came along.

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- Blue slivers mark where the slides run through the weeds.

The slides didn't take long to find. The hill on which they sat borders a campground and lake. We walked up and realized that in the haste to make the most out of the day's light - no one really thought to wear good shoes or long pants. We were soon brushing ticks off of our legs as we walked through the weeds that hid the fiberglass structures. I'm not 100% sure if it was from here, but Matt and I both came down with some really shitty version of Poison Ivy/Sumac/Oak shortly after visiting. Even as I type this, my legs are still itching after countless tubes of calamine lotion and a steroid shot to the ass at a local urgent care.

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The slides are incredibly overgrown, but we found a cement path that lead to the top. It's pure speculation, but I'd wager that these were probably just once an attraction for the nearby campground/fishing lake rather than a full blown waterpark.

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At the top of the hill, there's a concrete pad leading to the two slide entrances. We tried walking down the slides as far as we could, but the brush only lets you get about 15 feet in.

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- The summit.

From the top, you overlook the lake and the highway. The same view countless kids must've had just before sliding down to the bottom on the same kind of hot holiday weekend years ago.

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At the end, we walked back down through the weeds and did another check for ticks - pulling them out of our socks and shoes. I'm not entirely sure when the slides shut down, who built them or if there was ever an actual amusement-type waterpark here - but they remain off the highway as a monument to someone's past summer entertainment.

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5 comments:

  1. At least there weren't any snakes!

    Great post Ronny,

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  2. WALNUT LAKE was a great place in the 80's.. I grew up in town about a mile away as the crow flies. I can remember the life guard at the water slide soaking in the sun, all oiled up in her bikini. I can remember having my bedroom window open in the summer and hearing the bands rockin out. The place was packed on weekends. Once the cops were called in to capture a guy driving a Chevy Chevette like he was on a road course racing through the campers late at night. Good times!

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  3. Dang. Went up to c-bus last weekend and when we passed I literally thought to myself "I wonder if these slides are easy to access??" This is awesome. I grew up in Fairborn and came to Cincy a lot, passing this often.

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  5. Are these the ones that are on the side of I-71?

    I remember seeing these for years every time I'd go north on 71, and always wondered about them. Thing is, at some point I thought I stopped seeing them. I ended up assuming that they had been removed sometime in the last 5 years or so. Looks like I was wrong and that they're just super overgrown now. Its cool too see these photos and know at least a little bit why they were there.

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