Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gallowalking in Eddystone

Went somewhere different this morning. When I hit Industrial Boulevard, instead of going left towards Tinicum and the airport I turned right and headed down to Chester.

The last time I did this was last September, when I tacked this on as the ass-end of a 20-miler, but I missed my turn and it became a 22-miler. I wrote out directions and took them with me this time. But I must have been glycogen depleted by the time I got here last time, as this morning I found myself in the just breaking morning light taking on semi's on this 4-lane road where large stretches of it had no shoulder. So it was either running on uneven grassy patches along the road or taking walk-breaks as large skeins of traffic whoosh past me and left me in a cloud of exhaust. I won't be doing this again.

Last time I ran this I blogged about entering Chester and passing Harrah's Casino & Racetrack, which sits cheek by jowl with the State prison on the highway. Then this juxtaposition suggested a symbolism that was obvious yet elusive; this morning I noticed a recently erected historical marker that offers the missing piece:

Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company

During WWII, Sun was the largest single shipyard in the world, with over 35,000 employees. It introduced the all-welded ship, which significantly increased ship production, and the T-2 oil tanker, which became the standard at all US shipyards. Sun built over 250 WWII tankers, 40% of those built in the world, and repaired over 1500 war-damaged ships. Established by the Pew family, it was located at this site from 1916 to 1982.

An archived New York Times article described Chester's role during World War II as the "arsenal of democracy." Chester is perhaps the poster-town for industrial decline, having lost over half its population since World War II, leaving what remains seeming god-forsaken. Prisons and casinos (and possibly a pro soccer team) are supposed to replace the shipyard jobs. This morning I found the correct turn onto Edgemont Ave., which took me through a downtown where I was the only being amidst the storefronts where the boards were falling off the rotting buildings. There was nothing there. The only thing I could relate that to are the old mining towns up in the Rockies.

From there I found my way on to the Chester Pike for some more Beijing-like conditions, and I eventually completed the 9.2 mile loop in 82:02. It was a good history lesson for an urban geek like me, but the difficulty of the out and back ensures I will be doing such runs only sparingly.


Blogger Tom said...

Good to see you on Sun - I almost didn't recognize you.

Talk about a small world - my wife is on the state museum commission that reviews and approves requests for the historical markers. That was one of the ones that she pushed for.

10:07 AM  
Blogger kevin f forde said...

Wow I must be getting back into the full fledged swing of my running to earn a quote in Seebo's Run!!!

10:39 AM  

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