About the Site
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (4)  


Park History

Ohio & Erie Canal

Towpath Trail

Cuyahoga River


Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Creek

Inn at Brandywine Falls


Hale Farm

Boston Area

Horseshoe Pond

Kendall Lake

Ledges Area

Brecksville Reservation


Plants and Vegetation

Park Views


Cuyahoga River

The centerpiece of the park, and the feature for which the valley and the park is named, is the Cuyahoga River, which runs for approximately 22 miles within the park. It runs through Cuyahoga Valley, which includes rugged gorges and which was sculpted by glaciers. The river empties into Lake Erie a few miles north of the northern border of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Although the river itself is 95 miles long, it actually enters Lake Erie only about 300 miles from its source because of its meandering route.

The river is very lovely and provides a number of beautiful views within the park. This includes a view of the Route 82 bridge over the river, located in the narrowest section of Cuyahoga Valley. This bridge, which spans the gorge of the Cuyahoga Valley, was designed by Alfred M. Felgate and constructed of steel and reinforced concrete in 1930-1931. It provided much needed jobs for a number of construction workers during the Great Depression.The bridge is 1,132 feet long and 145 feet high, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Through parts of its route The Cuyahoga River has flowed through a heavily industrialized and highly populated area. As a result, many years ago, it fell into a very neglected and polluted state. This was most famously represented by the 1939 incident in which the river caught fire when floating debris was ignited by the spark from a blowtorch. Although the river has been cleaned up considerably, it is still not recommended that people boat or swim in the river at this time.

This view of the river looks in a northwesterly direction from its banks in the village of Peninsula.The river was named for the Indian word--ka-ih-ogh-ha--for "crooked", a very appropriate name as it meanders through northern Ohio.


Another of the interesting features of the park is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which runs from Akron to Independence. The history of railways in the Cuyahoga Valley area is extremely important. In 1869, Akron businessman David King sought and received authorization from the state legislature to build the Akron and Canton Railway. Incorporated as the Valley Railway Company, the railroad was completed in 1880. This line connected Cleveland, Akron, and Canton with the coal fields of Tuscarawas. The primary cargo of the railroad was raw materials and passenger travel.

The picture below shows one of the northern stops on the railway, Rocksville Station.

In a decade, the railroad became part of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. Over time, the superior ability of the railroad to transport cargo overcame the value of the canal. Both operated side by side for a time, with the railroad carrying coal while the canal was more responsible of agricultural products. Over time, however, most freight came to be carried by the railroad.

In the mid 1970's, the Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway Association began offering train excursions along the tracks running along the Cuyahoga River in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

The picture below shows the lovely Brecksville Station. This small depot was an original stop on the Valley Railway in 1880.

In 1994, the railway was reorganized as the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway. The railway presently carries 100,000 passengers a year in its 1940's-era coaches. The railroad promotes educational programming, providing information about the cultural and natural heritage of the valley.

A picture of the tracks running north from Brecksville Station shows the Route 82 Bridge.

Below is the railroad depot which is located in the village of Peninsula. This town was originally settled in 1818, and surveyed in 1837. It was named after the loop in the Cuyahoga River in this area which creates a "peninsula" of land. Located near Lock 29 on the Ohio and Erie Canal, there was a boat building industry in the town, and also quarrying activity in the area. However, it was the railroad which was responsible for the town thriving in the late 1800's.

This view of the rails looks north from the Peninsula Station. The railroad linked the coal fields with Akron and Cleveland. Cargo and passenger canal boats stopped at Peninsula, which is located about halfway between Cleveland and Akron.

Below is a view of the village of Peninsula from the bridge across the Cuyahoga River. The town is not officially part of the national park, but it is completely surrounded by it. The town features historic buildings, antique shops, art galleries, and provides a number of tourist amenities, including restaurants, bicycle rental facilities, and the Peninsula Depot Visitor Center. The town also has preserved an historic district with a number of buildings and houses.The Cuyahoga Valley in general supports a healthy artistic community.

In the heyday of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the canal itself actually crossed the river via an aqueduct at the Moody and Thomas Mill in Peninsula.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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