Today we rode on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

This train goes through the Cuyahoga National Park which runs between Cleveland and Akron. On the north bound journey you can listen to a history of the conservation efforts in the park. The park was founded in 1972 in response to the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. The river was so polluted that a spark from a train caught the river on fire. Since then 33,000 acres have been set aside as a park and the river has been cleaned up.

cuyahoga river

It is a very shallow, twisty river. The water is now clear enough that we watched two water snakes swim downstream when we were parked on a bridge above the river at one of the stations.

water snake

That’s one of them on the side of the river. We were about 20 feet above him. The water is crystal clear now.


This is the heronry. Great Blue Herons nest here. On the other side of the tracks there was a stretch of river that had 5 herons fishing in it as the train went by. There is also a bald eagle nest here.

On the south bound journey you hear more about the human history of the park. You find out about the Ohio and Erie Canal. The towpath is next to the train through the park. The canal brought people to the area and the first towns sprung up around the locks. There were also stories about a counterfitter who was so trusted by the locals that after he got out of jail he was elected justice of the peace.

My only complaint about the trip is that I wish the audio tour was continuous. There were long periods of silence. I’m sure there was more history that could be discussed.