[graphic] Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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Valley Railway
Historic District
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Historic View of the Valley Railway
Photo courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The Valley Railway was constructed in 1880 to link Cleveland’s growing steel industry and the rich coal fields of the Tuscarawas River Valley, extending south to Zoarville. Although the first railroad came to Cleveland in 1854, the majority of the rail lines ran east-west and did not connect the metropolitan and industrial centers of Cleveland, Akron and Canton. The Valley Railway was built next to, and sometimes on top of, the Ohio and Erie Canal . The Valley Railway provided a faster transport for the coal needed to fuel the new industrial economy.

[photo] Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway Train
Photo courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, photo by Jeff Winstel

Although the railway primarily functioned as an industrial and freight carrier, the railway published “The Travelers and Tourists Guide to the Valley Railway!” to promote its passenger service. This guidebook describes the origins and character of many towns and notable natural features along the route. The Valley Railway brought an increase in noise and pollution to the quiet rural valley. The guidebook was a common promotional piece used to make the railway seem more recreational than industrial. Many believed that the presence of the railroad in pastoral landscapes all around the country, referred to as the “machine in the garden,” represented a significant shift away from an agrarian society towards an industrial one.

In 1895 the Valley Railway became the Cleveland, Terminal and Valley Railway. In 1915 the line was absorbed into the Baltimore and Ohio system. Although many small independent lines from this era were absorbed into larger lines and acquired parallel tracks, the Valley Railway retains single track alignment and has been well-preserved. A great deal of the track runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which has preserved the cultural landscape of the valley and prevented modern intrusions into it. Today the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway runs excursion service extending from Cuyahoga County to Canton.

The Valley Railway Historic District, partially located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, extends more than 24 miles from Rockside Rd. in Independence to Howard St. in Akron. For more information on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad visit www.cvsr.com.

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