Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The brink before Brandywine Falls plummets 63 feet.

Lying between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Lock 32 of the Ohio & Erie Canal

A major feature of the park is the Ohio & Erie Canal that was dug in the 1820s to connect the two cities, a distance of 37 miles.

The star marks the location of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

A few years later the canal was extended all the way to the Ohio River, establishing a transportation system that stimulated the movement of goods and the industrialization of Ohio.

Tim's goal to drive the Dawntreader, our RV, no more than four hours a day meant we needed to plan three days of travel to get from Connecticut to Chicago for a visit with his sisters.  

Luckily for us, the trip took us right by Cuyohoga Valley National Park, allowing us to add it as number 11 to the list of national parks we've visited since our journey began in January 2016.

The Cuyahoga River

The American Indians called the river that runs through the valley "Ka-ih-ogh-ha" which means crooked.  And crooked the Cuyahoga River is as it twists and turns from its source to empty into Lake Erie near Cleveland.  What the Indians might have thought about the river's pollution after decades of industrial use is open for conjecture, but when the river burst into flames in June 1969, a fire sparked by an oil slick upon the river, it also ignited the environmental movement and the passage of the Clean Water Act.  Today the river has been restored to its beauty.

Interstate bridge crossing over the park

The park is an urban oasis, most evident by the suburban residences within the park's boundaries, homes that existed there before the park was set aside as the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974 and later officially established as a national park in the year 2000.  Still, unless one knew it was there, travelers along Interstate 80 (above) would never notice the park.

Breckville Depot

There's also a scenic railroad operating between the two cities, an amphitheater where summer productions play and even a ski resort. 

Brandywine Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Blue Hen Falls

Yet it was the beautiful waterfalls we enjoyed.  That, plus the trails we hiked during the three days of our visit.

Chief of those trails is the Canal Towpath that runs along the now overgrown Ohio & Erie Canal.  Tim and I rode our bikes along this towpath where boys--a young James A. Garfield (20th President of the United States) among them--once prodded mules to pull the canalboats. 

When a puncture deflated Tim's rear tire, he skillfully changed its inner tube.  Later we rode through Peninsula, a quaint village within the park where a bicycle repair shop undoubtedly receives a lot of business, including ours.  We bought a spare tube there just in case one of us experienced another flat tire.

A misty rain moved into the area on our final day at the park, but we didn't mind.  That just made it seem more like a fairyland. 

The 308-mile Ohio & Erie Canal was the brainchild of George Washington who owned land in the Western Reserve territory (now the state of Ohio) and envisioned the building of a system of canals that would transport goods from the wilderness to the Potomac River.

When funding was finally obtained from Congress in 1822, local workers and Irish immigrants hand-dug the canal.  (The Irish had already trenched their way across New York State to build the Erie Canal.)  Every mile of the Ohio & Erie cost $15,000 to add.  All risked their health, and many their lives, for hard-won cash.  But within one year of its opening, the amount of wheat (among other goods) shipped through Cleveland increased from 1,000 to 250,000 bushels.

By the 1850s, railroads began to supplant the canal.  The 1913 flood was the final blow to its operation.   Nowadays, it has another purpose--to restore the spirits of those who visit here.

Everett Covered Bridge is also within the park.

John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., sons of the eminent landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmsted, received a commission to landscape the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System, much of which lies along the borders of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  I like this quote.

"It is in the valley that one can realize most effectively a sense of isolation and freedom from the sights and sounds...which go to make the modern city..."~ Olmsted Brothers, 1925

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and beautiful photos! Keep posting! Love you guys😘❤️🙏🏽