• Image of bluebells in the spring

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Valley Bridle Trail Partial Closure

    A section of the Valley Bridle Trail is closed across from the Brandywine Golf Course. There is no estimate of when this section will be open. Please observe all trail closures. More »

  • Plateau Trail Partial Closure

    The outer loop of the Plateau Trail is closed at the Valley Picnic Area junction for bridge repair. The bridge is now unsafe for pedestrian traffice due to accelerated erosion around the base. More »

  • Bald Eagle Closure in Effect Until July 31, 2014

    Returning bald eagles are actively tending to last year's nest within the Pinery Narrows area in CVNP. To protect the eagles from human disturbance, the area surrounding the nest tree will be closed until July 31, 2014. More »

  • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Bridge Construction Closures

    Rockside and Canal Visitor Center boarding sites will be closed through Apr 27. From Jan 18 - Mar 16, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Brecksville stations. From Mar 22 - Apr, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Peninsula. More »

  • Do Not Feed the Waterfowl and Birds!

    Many people enjoy feeding waterfowl and birds, but the effects of this seemingly generous act can be harmful. Regular feeding can cause: unatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, and poor nutrition and disease.

  • Closure on Fishing Will Remain in Effect for Virginia Kendall Lake

    Due to the government shutdown, we were unable to survey the fish community in VK Lake as scheduled. Our survey partners (ODNR) will not be able to get into the lake until early spring of 2014. Therefore, the closure on fishing will remain in effect. More »

Changes in Transportation

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) sits in the middle of a well-worn traveling route. The geography of the Cuyahoga Valley creates a naturally level corridor that runs north and south through a hilly landscape. For centuries travelers have taken advantage of the valley’s pathway on foot, canoe, horse, canal boat, train, and interstate highway.

Today four kinds of transport can still be seen side-by-side in the park: river, canal, railroad, and road. Each step in transportation brought great change to the valley’s communities and people’s daily lives—just as it did across a young growing nation.


 
casale cuyahoga river transportation

Cuyahoga River

©Ralph Casale

Cuyahoga River

American Indians canoed through the valley on the Cuyahoga River. The river was used as part of a trade route and a way to reach hunting grounds. If American Indian travelers wanted to continue on south, they had to take their canoes out of the river where it passes through Akron’s Merriman Valley, carry them eight miles on the Portage Path, and put them back in on the Tuscarawas River.

European explorers also traveled by boat on the Cuyahoga River—or at least tried to. When New Englander David Hudson came to survey Western Reserve land in the valley in 1799, his party of men had to drag their boats up the shallow parts of the river. He knew then that the Cuyahoga River couldn’t bring supply-laden pioneers into the valley. They instead traveled by covered wagon. Nor could the river easily deliver goods loaded down on boats to the valley, or carry farmer’s cash crops to other markets. Lack of fast, dependable transportation isolated the frontier villages of the Cuyahoga Valley. With no way to easily sell what they’d grown, many pioneers struggled to get by.


 
VIDEOICON


Kids Asked, We Answered!

Click the questions to play video of real kids getting answers from park experts.

How did American Indians use the river?


 
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Last state boat launched around 1907. Photo taken at Lock 2 in Akron.

nps collection

Canal Era

The Ohio & Erie Canal transformed the Cuyahoga Valley when it opened in 1827 between Akron and Cleveland. Valley residents could finally send their products cheaply to the big cities back East on canal boats. Goods also arrived in the valley from other parts of the country, as well as dependable mail service, travelers, and new settlers. The canal turned isolated pioneers into citizens of a country that was expanding westward and becoming more industrialized. The canal changed the Cuyahoga Valley from clusters of frontier settlements to boomtowns of mills, factories, stone quarries, and profitable farms.

 

The Ohio & Erie Canal was the first inland waterway to connect the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico. By 1832 a crate of saws coming to Cleveland via Lake Erie could be shipped by canal boat all the way to the Ohio River, then via the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal helped build a national economy that no longer depended on imported goods from Europe. The East Coast could get the raw materials it needed from the frontier and find markets for its
products. And the state of Ohio was set on its path to grow into an industrial giant.


 
VIDEOICON


Kids Asked, We Answered!

Click the questions to play video of real kids getting answers from park experts.

How long did it take to travel on the canal?

When and why did people stop using the canal?


 
Cuyahoga Railroad

Postcard postmarked 1909 showing the railroad, canal, and Cuyahoga River between the villages of Boston and Peninsula.

nps collection

Railroad Era

By the time the Valley Railway became the Cuyahoga Valley’s first railroad in 1880, trains had been steaming their way across much of America for thirty years. The Valley Railway ran between Cleveland and Canton. The railway was built to haul coal from central Ohio to cities like Akron and Cleveland. Passengers, mail, and other goods also traveled the Valley Railroad’s route north and south.

The railroad changed the Cuyahoga Valley and the lives of its residents—and strangled the canal business. Railroads were much faster than canals. The Canton to Cleveland trip took only two hours, so farmers could send fresh milk and butter to the cities without it spoiling. While floods or frozen water shut down the canal, these problems didn’t stop trains. Stone from Peninsula’s quarries was soon riding the rails, not the canal. The valley’s train depots in Independence, Brecksville, Boston, Peninsula, Everett, Ira, and Botzum quickly became centers of business in those towns. The Valley Railway also helped start the tourist business, enticing city dwellers to ride the train through the scenic Cuyahoga Valley.


 
VIDEOICON

Kids Asked, We Answered!
Click the questions to play video of real kids getting answers from park experts.


Where did the first trains travel?

How many people rode the first trains?

Who rode the first trains?

How fast were the first trains?

How do trains climb hills?


 
I-80 Bridge

Historic photo of the old I-80 bridge over CVNP

NPS/COLLECTION

Roads and Highways

In the 1920s the Cuyahoga Valley’s roads started improving as automobiles became more common. Soon it was trucks and cars that carried freight and people through the valley instead of trains or canals. In the 1950s the original Ohio Turnpike
(I-80) was built, including a bridge that carried traffic 175-feet above the Cuyahoga River.

The Turnpike and later highways gave citizens from Cleveland and Akron easy access to the valley’s sites and scenic landscapes. Growing highways also fueled the urban sprawl that by the 1960s threatened to destroy the valley. It also motivated citizens to save it. Those preservation efforts eventually created Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

 
Oral history audio.

In Their Own Words!
Click the topics below to hear real stories about living in the Cuyahoga Valley!

WPA Road Improvements I (38 seconds)
George Dittoe describes how the Works Progress Administration(WPA) improved Kendall Park/Truxell Road in the 1930s.

WPA Road Improvements II (27 seconds)
Model-T Fords (46 seconds)
Willis Meyers and his son Ronnie describe Works Progress Administration projects between Cleveland and Akron in the 1930s. Willis also talks about his experiences using old Model-T Fords to drive around Ohio.




Did You Know?

Image of Civilian Conservation Corps statue outside Happy Days Visitor Center.

During the Great Depression, the "boys of Company 567" of the Civilian Conservation Corps helped shape the landscape that would later become Cuyahoga Valley National Park by constructing buildings, playfields, and a lake, as well as planting over 100 acres of trees.