February talk previews April's total eclipse

An artist's conception of the eclipse over Coventry, coming Monday, April 8, 3:13 p.m.

The total solar eclipse of Monday, April 8, will be unlike anything experienced here in Northeast Ohio in our lifetimes. At 3:13 p.m., the moon will be visible as a velvety black shape obscuring the bright face of the sun.

Partial solar eclipse phases happen frequently, but the last total solar eclipse over Ohio was in 1806. This was the pioneer era of the Western Reserve; the “pre-history” of the Heights.

Then, the future site of Cleveland Heights was a primeval woodland. A mere 10 years after Moses Cleaveland arrived, there were only a handful of settlers in Cuyahoga County.  Maj. Lorenzo Carter, the first permanent settler of “Cleaveland,” lived in a log cabin along the Cuyahoga River.

In this early period of settlement, Euclid Heights was part of the original Cleveland Township. Years later, East Cleveland Township was created out of portions of Cleveland and Euclid townships, from which Cleveland Heights was eventually incorporated. 

One early settler of Cleveland Township was Nathaniel Doan, who had a blacksmith shop at “Doan’s Corners” along Doan Brook in modern-day University Circle. As reported in the early histories of Charles Whittlesey and Crisfield Johnson, other early settlers fled the “ague” (likely malaria) infesting the swamps along the Cuyahoga.

These settlers relocated to the higher ground of the ridge near the present site of Cleveland Heights. “The Newburgh Road” ran south from Doan’s Corners to the mill at the waterfall along Mill Creek. The Newburgh Road was renamed Woodland Hills Avenue, later shortened to Woodhill Road, the southern part of which became E. 93rd Street in 1906.

These early settlers did not report any eclipse sightings. But this history lesson illustrates that it’s been a long time since a rare total solar eclipse has been seen in or around the Heights. 

To learn more about the upcoming eclipse, the public is invited to attend an eclipse presentation at Mac’s Backs on Coventry, on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., and at The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m.

Jay Ryan

Jay Ryan is a former contributor to Sky & Telescope magazine who has been popularizing astronomy since 1996. He lived near Cedar Lee during his childhood, and attended the original Fairfax Elementary School on Lee Road. Ryan will be giving the talk described in this article. To learn more, visit EclipseOverCleveland.com.

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Volume 17, Issue 2, Posted 4:27 PM, 01.30.2024