This view of the downtown crossroads of Louisville is not all that complimentary. However, having at least a few old brick buildings with a bit of class lining the streets looked much better in real life! On my drives into Louisville I noticed that the houses were all very well-kept with beautiful lawns and many large old trees throughout the city...more
I had enjoyed the forested nature of the rolling countryside of Ohio as I drove down from Cleveland, so when I wrapped up my first day at the transformer plant in Louisville (my 'OTBP' tip), I decided to take a 'scenic' route back to Alliance. To tell the truth, I never even looked at my map - just headed straight out into the countryside on...more
By far, the most impressive thing I saw in this part of Ohio was Glamorgan Castle, an amazing relic of a by-gone era when grand estates were built on European models by the 'new-rich' barons of American industrialism. When I heard that I would be making a business trip that would involve staying in Alliance, I checked out the VT website to see what...more
2341 W State St, Alliance, OH 44601
Good for: Solo
2330 W State St, Hwy 62 Exit West State Street, Al
Good for: Business
The guys at the MTC Transformers plant recommended the Comfort Inn Alliance as a good place to stay,...more
I had flown out of Regina, Saskatchewan at 6 AM (which is 8 AM in Ohio) and only grabbed a mango yoghurt drink and an apple as I changed flights in Minnesapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Arriving at 1:15 PM in Cleveland, I decided to just get my rental car sorted and then clear out of the congested area around the airport by hitting the road for...more
On my only lunch day at the MTC Transformers plant, one of the guys took me on the short drive into downtown Louisville, just up the hill from the railway tracks on Main Street (I guess the transformer plant is located beside the tracks so they could handle shipments of large and heavy transformers). This was another restaurant chain I had never...more
Luckily for me, the guys I was meeting that night did not want to eat until about 7:30 PM, so that gave me a chance to digest my earlier meal at Applebee's! They were locals and suggested that Texas Roadhouse would be a great spot for some steak, so I said it sounded fine to me. The place was really hopping when we arrived, with lots of full booths...more
I asked our office staff to arrange something small and simple for a rental car regarding this trip and they made a good selection with this little Chevrolet Cobalt from Enterprise, which I picked up at the Cleveland, Ohio airport. It actually was so simple that it did not even have cruise control - something that I regularly use under normal circumstances. However, I found that I soon adjusted to this reality and cruised along I-480 and I-77 with ease as I took in the sights of the beautiful Ohio countryside.
It was only about 74-miles from the airport to Alliance, and the entire trip only cost me US$27 in gasoline. The car itself came in at $210 for two days, with a good chunk of that coming from the fact that I took out full insurance on it.
Thanks to the scenic route I took from Louisville back to Alliance on my second day in town, I ended up getting lost in the maze of streets at 5 PM rush-hour while the rain pelted down, the wind howled and giant bolts of lightning flashed/boomed almost simultaneously as they drove straight for the ground!
Luckily, I had taken a short sight-seeing drive to Glamorgan Castle the previous late afternoon and I just happened to stumble across it once more, thereby regaining my bearings. Before reaching my hotel, I pulled into the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot to try to photograph the strokes that were coming with great regularity - but no luck. However, I did notice how the wind was shaking the car and sheets of rain were falling so heavily that the parking lot was quickly turning into a giant puddle. As I finally headed for the hotel it even began to have hail mixed in with the rain, so I squeezed my rental in under the hotel portal at its main entrance. Some poor guy was trying to unload his van there and his young children were running for the front door as the rain was blown horizontally by the wind. It was too strong for them to open the doors into the hotel, so I stayed around to help until they were all inside. Frankly, I enjoyed the storm - one of the fiercest I've seen in a long time!
I was in the Alliance/Louisville area on company business, so most of my waking time was spent at the MTC Transformers Inc. rewind, repair facility in Louisville. This old building was formerly owned by General Electric but was purchased by new owners a few years ago when GE decided to close-up shop and move to a new facility in Florida.
In my case, we had purchased a used transformer (2nd photo) for an industrial customer in Canada and MTC had won the bid to make the necessary changes before we delivered it to the customer. I travelled to the plant to be a 'witness' at the testing of the transformer to ensure that everything in it was working as planned. The 3rd photo shows a smaller transfomer and heavy current-carrying cables connected to the grey transformer under test as part of the routine. The last time I had done work like this was for the Papua New Guinea Electricity Commission in 1981 when they sent me to the Hyundai plant in South Korea!!
At the end of the first day of tests at the Louisville transformer plant, I took a 'scenic' route back to Alliance as I drove through the rolling and tree-covered countryside. While cruising along, I could not help but notice this 345,000-volt line as it crossed the highway. It was just north of here that the epicentre of the great August 14, 2003 blackout was located - taking down about 60 million customers in northern Ohio, eastern Michigan, northwestern Pennsylvania, most of New York state and almost all of Ontario, Canada. Because of my role in the North American transmission scene at the time, I ended up helping to analyze the event and write parts of the final US-Canada Power System Outage Task Force report on the blackout, which was made public in April, 2004.
Due to a combination of lax operational practices by the power company serving the Cleveland area of Ohio, including failure to adequately cut trees growing beneath their transmission lines and compounded by failures of various system monitoring devices in the mid-west USA, a series of transmission and generation outages over a four-hour period was left to go unchecked. Finally, lines began to trip out of service too quickly for human intervention, resulting in a voltage 'tsunami' that tore the whole area apart as the power flows tried every possible direction to reach the Cleveland area.
Fondest memory: This particular line was at the southern edge of the blacked out area and tripped a few times itself, starting at 3:45 PM as the loading exceeded its capability. The final surge to total blackout started 21 minutes later at 4:06 PM and was all over in about 20 seconds. Notice the lively looking sky in the background - it was not long afterward that great bolts of lightning began to flash straight into the ground! In fact it turned into one of the wildest storms I've seen in a while and 'blacked out' my hotel for more than an hour!