We have driven through northern Ohio many times on our way to destinations in the west. We never knew that we were a stone’s throw away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My brief survey of people around me confirmed that few people know about Cuyahoga National Park even though it gets more visits annually than Bryce Canyon National Park!
Many people my age (old) do recall the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River catching on fire numerous times, most famously on June 22, 1969, helping to spur the American environmental movement (Wikipedia). Since then, the river has been extensively cleaned up through the efforts of Cleveland’s city government and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). In 2019, the American Rivers conservation association named the Cuyahoga “River of the Year” in honor of “50 years of environmental resurgence”.
It was a glorious day for a bike ride. We rode 14 miles on the Tow Path Bike Trail along the historic Ohio & Erie Canalway. Fall foliage was at its peak and just gorgeous.
We came to little towns along the way, now part of the National Park, that were once thriving towns. Boston. Ohio was one of those towns. In 1974, in order to create the Cayahoga Valley National Park, President Ford ordered the town to be evacuated. There were rumors of a mutation-causing chemical spill and extreme paranormal activity. The Travel Channel made a movie of the town called Helltown (2017), which according to Snopes is mostly fiction. You can learn more about the movie here, which now I do think I want to see.
I would encourage anyone looking to hike, bike or canoe to consider a stop at the Cayahoga Valley National Park.
John and I stayed in Akron and biked the areas in the lower section of the park this spring and also went to that sweet shop in Boston, Ohio!! We plan to do the northern part of the park and stay in Cleveland next time we go. It’s only two hours from Pittsburgh (lucy-Rose and family) so it’s a fun trip. So glad you enjoyed the park!! and here’s Randy Newman singing about the river going on fire all the time 🙂!! so glad it’s being more protected as a national park xo Randi
Randy Newman Burn On, 1972 mp4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDVIFVy1MXQ
Randy Newman singing Burn On live on The Old Grey Whistle Test BBC London 1972. The Cuyahoga river is on fire.