2019 Cuyahoga River Celebration

Celebrating a River Fire

On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in Cleveland a few miles north of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was not the first Cuyahoga River fire. At least ten fires had occurred over the previous century. It was also not the biggest fire. It lasted for less than a half hour and caused modest damage. Despite its small size, it holds a big place in our memory as a reflection of poor treatment of the environment.

Fifty years have passed since the fire, and anniversary activities will occur throughout the year. Activities will not only commemorate the fire, but also feature the response to the fire and changes that followed. Much of this story is positive and inspirational. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is part of the story. Established five years after the fire in 1974, the park now protects 22 miles of the river and 33,000 acres of its watershed.

1952 Cuyahoga River Fire scenic cuayhoga river with kayakers 2018
1952 Cuyahoga River Fire in Cleveland, OH Cuyahoga River Fire Nov. 3, 1952. Courtesy of Cleveland Press Collection at Cleveland State University Library.
The Cuyahoga River today NPS/ D.J. REISER
Compare an image of the Cuyahoga River on fire in Cleveland to an image of the river in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The fire image is often used to depict the 1969 fire. However, it was taken during a different fire in 1952. The 1969 fire did not last long enough to be photographed.

Anniversary Events and Activities

Anniversary Events and Activities

Find a listing of programs, events, and activities offered by the National Park Service and many other partners to celebrate!

Story of the Fire

Story of the Fire

Stories of the fire often combine fact and myth. Learn the stories and how they related to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Visit the Cuyahoga

Visit the Cuyahoga

The Cuyahoga River is the central feature of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Discover how to enjoy the river on and off the water.

How a National Park Helps a River Recover

How a Park Helps a River Recover

In 2007, something remarkable happened in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


Last updated: May 2, 2019

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Mailing Address:

15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville, OH 44141


(330) 657-2752

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