I have lived in the Wheeling, WV area for about five years. It is an old city that has continued to see its population decline. In the 1930s, Wheeling had a population of more than 60,000 people. Today, its population stand below 28,000. They have been efforts to revitalize the city but things have been moving very slow.
This past week, a greyhound bus hit the Wheeling suspension bridge, causing damages that led to the bridge being temporarily closed for repairs. I saw the news story and just moved on. As I looked up Wheeling in Clio for my class activity, I realized how important the Wheeling suspension bridge is. The bridge came up as the eighteenth listing in my search. When I opened it up, I discovered that the bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world from 1849 until 1851 when the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge was opened. I had no idea that the bridge was that old. I see the bridge always and I have driven through it not more than twice.
Looking at all the historic sites in the Wheeling area that Clio presented, I am ashamed of how ignorant I am of the local history. What I have asked myself is this, how could I be a historian and lived in a place for five years without bothering to know the local history? They were 51 locations within a 25 miles radius of the downtown wheeling zip code I used for my search. Of these sites, I have visited only five and couldn’t tell you anything beyond a sentence about these places.
I found myself educating myself about these places by reading the entries for them. I like the entries because they are precise. I became curious and wanted to take a quick drive through them. I downloaded the Clio app on android and discovered that I needed login information. I could not register for an account through the app (something I thought immediately was dumb.) I had to go back on my computer to create an account. After creating an account, I tried to login and the app rejected my username and password. It was then I realized that there is another company called Clio and it was their app I downloaded. I also found out that the clio project does not have a mobile app.
What they do have is a mobile friendly website that I will say is good. The website opened quickly, was able to find my location and generate locations for me. I could also easily connect from the website to google maps for turn by turn navigation. I had no problems finding the places. A little bit of information about what to expect will have been helpful. Some of the locations have since been repurposed for other uses and the landmarks are difficult to find.
I was not sure how they ranked the places they gave me. Is it by importance? Proximity to the zip code? Popularity? Etc. It was easy to decipher that this was not done by years. Some information on how the places are ranked will be useful. A mobile app will be useful to this site. An important feature could be a trip planner where you can add the places you want to see and the app links them together for you with one driving directions. I also noticed that most of the entries did not have any comments. This made me a little bit worried about the factuality of the information that was posted. A system where people can vote up or down the entries or the moderators approving accuracy of information is also going to be helpful.
On the whole, I think it is a great project and it has helped me understand better my local area. I find it very useful and will probably use it when I travel to new places.